Naomi: Shahrukh, I am going to ask you my first question from the perspective of a producer. Is there a certain kind of cinema that your banner, Red Chillies Entertainment inherently believes in?
Shahrukh: Yes. The idea when we started Dreamz Unlimited, (which is now Red Chillies), was to try and make films which nobody else would want to. Then we decided if we keep on making that then nobody will want us to make any more films. So then we decided that whenever a film appeals to you and if you are able to create a whole bank of people who would be similar thinking we say ok let’s give this a shot. The idea was to make films happily. Now it’s been 5-6 years, we have survived. ‘Om Shanti Om’ is one of the bigger films which I am hoping will be able to give a bank of directors that we have developed. Their mindset of how the film should be made is similar to mine and the company’s, so they go ahead and make and tell the story that they want to tell as long as they make the film happily. Everybody should love each other, everybody should shout at each other, everybody should be happy with each other and there is no boss except me, everybody else is a slave and everybody has to remember that. So as long as they can do that with happiness, that’s the cinema, we would want to make.
Naomi: Commercially OSO has already done well for you because the trade says that as a producer you have already made a profit of it. There are huge figures doing the rounds.
Shahrukh: See there are two people who know how much profit I have made. One is me and the other is the person who has paid me. The person who has taken the payment is me and the person who’s paid me is my three distributors.
Naomi: So what are you saying?
Shahrukh: What I am saying is that of all the interviews and newspaper headlines that I have read including Economic Times, which is a fantastically well informed economic paper; neither have spoken to these two entities. So nobody has asked me how much money I have got.
Naomi: How much money have you got?
Shahrukh: I don’t tell and nobody has asked the person who has paid. I don’t know why, may be he also doesn’t tell and somebody has made up this figure. I have read different figures that I have made. Let me be honestly saying that I don’t have such small intentions, I want to make many many many more crores, but I have thought of that for ‘Paheli’ also and I didn’t make it. But sometime I’ll get it right!
Naomi: Ok, is it reassuring or scary that there is no such thing right now as a commercially safe film? Because if you see Chak De India- it’s the biggest hit of the year. You were playing a Muslim protagonist, it was about hockey and it went on to become the biggest hit of the year – is it scary that there is no box office formula?
Shahrukh: No, I always choose a film as an actor. I choose a film, I hear a story, and then I start believing the director who’s making this film who believes in the story more than I do so he or she will not leave a stone (unturned) to make the film work. I thought ‘Chak De India’ was a very interesting story to tell. It may be have been difficult to narrate but a very nice story to tell. So my state of mind is completely convinced the day I decide to do the film. Sometimes some bad stories also work. You know this business is art. I can’t tell how well a film will do; I don’t have any control over it, that’s why I am never nervous about it. The ‘Chak De’ story is good which is why it has done well. I think Om Shanti Om will do very well also.
Naomi: At a recent newspaper summit, you said that you didn’t have the marketing budget of ‘Saawariya’. Now a Shahrukh Khan film is never regarded as an underdog, you can never call it an underdog even if it is ‘Saawariya’ produced by Sony pictures.
Shahrukh: No I didn’t mean it like this. I’ll explain how I meant it. What I meant is everybody is always bothered and nervous about their own thing. Not in comparison to something else, so if I worry for my film, I cannot be an underdog. I am a big movie star; I have had the goodness of the media with me. I have had all the goodness of the audience with me for years now. I think I have no comparison with ‘Saawariya’. On 9th of November only one film is releasing for me i.e. ‘Om Shanti Om’ and with full love and respect to ‘Saawariya’, as a producer I have to be very competitive. I am very clear on that whether I am the underdog or the over dog or the middle dog, I am a dog so anybody comes and messes around with this dog in terms of marketing. I am going to try and bite them, bite their head off! So if Sony Columbia tries to come in, I’ll try to bite their head off. I am going to eat them up. This is my intention with positiveness, I’ll bite with goodness. My film has to do well because my audience expects that of me and I can’t let them down.
Naomi: Ok Shahrukh, since the first part of ‘Om Shanti Om’ is about the 70s, suppose you were in the 70′s and what would your positioning be? Have you thought of it?
Shahrukh: No, I don’t know. I would have done the ‘Don’ as the original Don. I think I would have been very good at anti-establishment hero. I would do some good fighting scenes and I don’t know if I would be able to say ‘kutte kamine’ with that kind of power. I find it odd to say bad words and I don’t know if I am flamboyant enough. See Amitji, Dharamji, Shatrusahab, Shashi Kapoor, Rishi Kapoor, have a lot of pizzazz and a lot of good heartedness in their performance. I am not as easy going. I think more than I feel. When I see actors of the 70′s, I find them a lot more heartfelt. So my positioning would have perhaps been a thinking man’s hero. I don’t know where I would be. Maybe I would be blamed for still playing a romantic hero with Yash Chopra.
Naomi: And giving competition to Rajesh Khanna at that time …..
Shahrukh: That’s ok, people still tell me that I am competing with a lot of senior actors so it’s not that being born in the 90′s has taken that away from me. I am still competing with the great stars that have been and are still in our hearts and great stars who are to be. So I am ok. I don’t know if that would have changed, though I think 70′s period the actors were amazingly talented, they were much better looking, taller than I wasI think I would never have been able to last in the era of 70′s. In my movie in ‘Om Shanti Om’ I end up being a junior artist. I think I would have ended up being just an extra artist in the 70′s.
Naomi: Thanks so much Shahrukh.
Shahrukh: Thank you.
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