Shah Rukh Khan and Aditya Chopra came together after Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge and Mohabbatein in this year’s Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi.
The movie stars Khan opposite new face Anushka Sharma. In this interview, Khan talks about his experience on working with Adi, Yash Raj Films and Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi.
What was it that helped you decide to do this film?
When I am working with Yash Raj Films there are no decisions that I can take, as a matter of fact there are no decisions they can also take, we don’t work on decisions – we just do it. We don’t even work together, we just love each other – we just go ahead and say "OK Yashji, what film are you making" or Yashji will call me "Tu kya kar raha hai" and I will say "Kuch nahin" and he will say "Chal aaja picture kar le".
Adi also called me in January and said, "I have written a film". I said, "Good for you". I thought he is producing another film and he said I have written it for you and I will make you hear it and you tell me, I said OK and I heard it and said it’s very nice and he said we are doing it after three months. So there is never any decisions to be made when you are working with Yash Raj Films – atleast my relationship is like this.
There are some few people in the film industry that I don’t take any decisions, I think neither do they. It’s just that sometimes both of us, whether it’s Adi and me, or Yashji and me, or even for Karan and Farah, we say OK let’s do a film and we just go and tell a story. So I can’t say there is one thing that makes me decide to do this film except for the fact that I love Adi very much and I have only one thing as an elder to tell him that before he finishes making films, he should have directed 30 films. He’s about 10 years too late and this is his third film – I think by now he should have been doing his seventh film. Then he would have had six Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (DDLJ’s) – right now he’s just going to have three of them.
What sets Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi apart from the other YRF films that you have been a part of?
I truly believe that Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi is a film that when Adi narrated it to me, I just felt that he’s being very courageous and brave. I never thought, with all due respect to Adi, who I believe can think of some really different kind of films he’s produced, different kinds of films he’s made, he’s never even thought of being part of films like Dhoom, Kabul Express and Chak De India. He really wants to experiment with commercial cinema, hoping that it does well – but still tries to think different within that parameter.
I never thought that for his own directorial venture, after eight years, he will think of a film like Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi. I didn’t believe him, I thought it’s a lie, but I think it’s truly brave of him to take three characters – make a whole film revolve round them, not be bothered that the baggage of Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge or Mohabbatein weighs heavy on him, or the films we have done together whether it is Darr, Veer-Zaara, Dil To Pagal Hai, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, Mohabbatien, Chak De India – we have done really some fine commercially viable and wonderfully different films also together, but not once did he think, and he said ‘No, we will make Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi’. So I think the unique part of Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi from Yash Raj Films is that after many years Yash Raj Films is making another film which it really feels for.
I think it is a film which they don’t want to make as a film; I think they just want to do as something they wish to experience. I think Adi has reached a stage in his life where he just wants to make a film not for what commerce it will do – ‘inshaallah it will do well’, whatever critics will say, it’s just a story he wanted to tell. I think it’s an evolution of a director and a producer and that’s what sets Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi very very different from all the others. I think they have made some wonderful films – this will also be considered as one of the wonderful films that Yash Raj Films has made, but I think it will be considered an immensely different film for me and for Adi.
Can you tell us something about the character you play?
Surinder Sahni is someone that I have played before – it’s an ordinary person. I have always said this and I will repeat it that Adi and I think that we are quite responsible for creating this young urban yuppy hero type called Raj when we did Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge. I wouldn’t like to take the whole credit but give it to Adi, for that kind of cinema and that kind of character we brought were good at heart, golden hearted… but really cool on top. Perhaps could be misunderstood and I think over the years as we have grown, we realized that we don’t even need to dress him up well, I think we decided that we have normally tried to sell you the model of a car with the beauty of its lines and say – Oh, it’s got a fantastic bonnet, it’s got fused lighting and it’s got this rooftop, it’s a convertible but basically what counts in a car is the engine. This time I think Adi and me decided that we are going to bare the engine and put it in front of the people and say if it doesn’t look very attractive it doesn’t have smooth lines, it’s not a convertible but this is what runs the car.
So, Sahni to me is the engine of most of the characters that perhaps Adi and I have done together. He is what he would look like from inside – maybe not very attractive, maybe little simple, but Sahni runs this character. So I wouldn’t call Sahni a character, actually, I would call him the soul of lot of characters that Adi has written for me and other actors also.
This is your third film with Aditya Chopra – what was the experience working with him on Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi?
Adi is a very very old friend – we have known each other for I think around 14 to 15 years maybe. We share a very close rapport. We started working in Darr when he was the chief AD and somehow we started feeling that we think the same. Adi and I have a lot of things in common as people. I think we are both a little reclusive. My job being of an actor, I think I have to come out and be in the open – but I would be a lot like Adi you know a little shy, reclusive, quiet – wanting to create new things. But strangely, because both of us are alike, we do realize the decency in letting each have his space, so it’s really wonderful – professionally we respect each other. I call him ‘Sir’ on the sets. I respect what he does. I think he’s a little more intense than me and I am a little funnier than him. So that helps in making a film – because, he brings the intensity like in Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge and I think I bring the comedy in a film like in Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge.
In this film, we have gone over the top. He has allowed me to be funny; I have allowed him to be intense. I think it’s a great mix when we come together and I respect him for his beliefs, he’s very earthy. ‘Thank you Adi’ for allowing me to be a part of your third dream and I hope I can continue to work very hard and hopefully try and be a part of your last dream too, whenever that may be, fifty-sixty years down the line. But I am like really blessed to have someone like Adi making films with me… and all three… so it’s a hundred percent record for me, and I am really very thankful.
What was it like working with Anushka Sharma who is making her debut?
To be really honest, when I met Anushka I felt that she’s got an amazing amount of confidence. I think she has modeled before this on the ramp; she’s a very pretty girl, very conscientious which I notice is a common trait in the youth of today. I really find very interesting in this phase of my career that I am working with youngster who come with an idea which is I would say – they speak the language of this generation, they have expressions of this generation.
A lot of people asked me, did you direct Anushka because she’s a new comer? I think, without knowing, Anushka has directed me in the film because she gives a different expression and I am like listen I cannot be going on to the set pattern of how I act. I need to react to this girl who’s so fresh and different.
The film becomes believable for Suri and everybody else in the film because of Anushka. She holds the film together. She is in the certain sense the main protagonist. Actually, at the end of one scene, I went up to her and told her, ‘Thank you for making my film so beautiful’. I think these are the two things I can say about Anushka and wish her all the best. I feel responsible for her career because she is starting off with me. I hope she does a fantastic job. Thank you for teaching me how to act in a different way and keeping me on my toes, not just by virtue of being fresh and new, by being taller than me also. I truly from the bottom of my heart pray for her. I hope we have got this film right – Adi and myself – and it does really good for her and she does some amazing amount of work, so we can feel proud that we started her career on celluloid.
Your look in the film is very different and most talked about – can you tell us a bit about it?
The idea in the film, to give the two characters a different look, was obviously because they are two different characters and we wanted them to be extremely opposite. The first character is Surinder Sahni – we wanted him to be a very real kind of a person – middle class, or maybe lower middle class kind of a guy, having a fixed routine – perhaps to the extent of being boring, fixed in what he does, doesn’t deviate and life is normal for him and he thinks this is how life should be and also wanted to give him a little bit of amusing quality without making him a caricature, or a comic and to get all that, I think a physical appearance was very very important. Especially also for the movement of the story, the look was very important, which you will get to know when you see the film.
One fine day, I just put some moustache and got some hair piece done and showed it to Adi and he said, this is the guy he should look like. It’s not just how weird or funny or geeky or simple I look, but the simplicity of the character will permeate through the screen and you will say ‘Oh wow! In real life I am like this’.
All of us become little weak when we are in love, all men hide this from their friends and other men, but in front of women they are like chickens or hens and we just don’t ever say it. I think Surinder Sahni says it and it’s an internal voice of every man who’s actually quite baby like when it comes to the women he loves and Surinder Sahni is that persona, and within this whole look is the simplicity and the middle class-ness in the soul – it’s just honesty when it comes to a woman.