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    I may fall again: Shah Rukh

    [Interview by Subhash K. Jha]
    Thursday, June 03, 2004
    His formidable star power now seems to be stuff that legends are made of.

    "Main Hoon Na", which comes close on the heels of three other major successes - "Devdas", "Chalte Chalte" and "Kal Ho Na Ho" - proves that when it comes to box office clout Shah Rukh Khan is second to none.

    But the actor knows Bollywood too well to get carried away by such super-success.

    "I've seen enough of what I thought were wonderful films falling. I may fall again. And again there will be talk about how I'm slipping," Shah Rukh told IANS in an interview.

    So far it was believed that your films didn't do well in the smaller centers. But "Main Hoon Na" has clicked across the board!

    The mountain has finally come to Mohammed, ha, ha. I think the stunts and Sushmita Sen have gone down very well with the audiences in centers where I'm not supposed to be a hot favorite. Since I play an action hero in "Main Hoon Na", I'm quieter than in my other films.

    There's no point in holding the floor. The younger brother (Zayed Khan) and the bad guy (Suniel Shetty) do a lot of talking. Suniel is known for his economy of words. But here he gives speeches. If you look at it, "Main Hoon Na" is more a musical than a talkie.

    "Main Hoon Na" doesn't look like a film directed by a woman. The secret is out. Farah Khan is a man. She's just hiding it well. There's no question that "Main Hoon Na" is made by Farah! But people are now sure she's a man, thanks to the ruggedness of the film!

    "Main Hoon Na" is what I call a masala (mainstream) film. I hate it when people abroad refer to all commercial films as masala cinema. They even spoke of "Devdas" as a masala film. That's wrong.

    "Main Hoon Na" is a massy entertainer with class. The reviews abroad have been more than kind. They loved it. Actually in commercial Hindi cinema there's no stereotype. But yes there's a hero-type cinema. Like what Amitabh Bachchan used to do. I play a hero-type in "Main Hoon Na".

    Come to think of it, I played a hero-type in "Kal Ho Na Ha". "Main Hoon Na" is more masala. I wanted to be a hero without blowing my trumpet. My character is larger-than-life without making a noise about it.

    The brotherly bonding in "Main Hoon Na" reminds us of your other film "Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham" with Hrithik Roshan.

    Why only that one? Whether it's "Deewaar" or "Ram Lakhan" all films about two brothers are the same. Unless you've the same actor playing both brothers. Then you have a "Kishen Kanhaiya". My brother Zayed Khan in "Main Hoon Na" is not a bad brother. He's just a brat. The bad soul is played by Suniel Shetty. His character has a problem with the peace plans between India and Pakistan.

    Everyone wants peace between the two countries. And that, according to me, is the more important part of "Main Hoon Na". It isn't just trying to entertain. It addresses itself to a very important aspect of our political life. We should've spoken of peace between the two countries long before. Why should we make guys from across the border villains and terrorists in our films? Bad guys everywhere are the same. Why only Pakistan?

    You seem to have taken a stand against Pakistan-bashing in our films?

    I get very disturbed by it. Without going the other way to show our neighboring country as angelic we've put forward our thesis - that to the average man on both sides of the border violence is undesirable.

    According to me, the essence of the film is in the last 10 minutes when both us brothers become symbolic of the two countries coming together. We in the two countries are like two brothers with the same mother squabbling over certain issues.

    Would you like to release "Main Hoon Na" in Pakistan?

    I'd certainly like that. In fact the film should release in every part of the world. I suppose when trade links between the two countries improve our films would automatically get released there. I suppose the Pakistanis are a lot like us in their tastes. I'm sure they'd love to see our films.

    You have a huge following in Pakistan. Do you plan to visit the country?

    Not immediately. I'm too busy working here. But whenever I get a chance I'd love to go there. I've performed in many corners of India. Performing in Pakistan would be just like performing here. I have family in Pakistan. I'd love to catch up with them.

    "Main Hoon Na" once again proves you're the biggest star of India.

    Am I? I find the whole logic of stardom very strange. As an actor you do films. Sometimes you get it right. It's topping the US charts as well. I'm specially happy since this is my own production and Farah Khan's first film as director. Everyone worked really hard on the film. The bottom line of cinema is that it should entertain. And that's what "Main Hoon Na" does.

    My responsibility is to entertain the audience. I take my job very seriously. But I don't take myself too seriously. I've never considered people's expectations to be a responsibility. I enjoy every film I do, and given the parameters we work in, I try to make each film as different as possible. I normally leave behind a film and start looking at the next one as soon as my shooting is over.

    I've seen enough of what I thought were wonderful films falling. I may fall again. And again there will be talk about how I'm slipping.

    You just shot for Ashutosh Gowariker's "Swades" at NASA in the US. What's it about?

    I don't think I'm at liberty to reveal the plot. "Swades" is complete. It will be my next release. In terms of content and my look it's completely different from "Main Hoon Na".

    You haven't had a failure in three years!

    Well...there're people who'd say I'm just lucky. "Duplicate" didn't work. But I still love that film. I'm sure I got that right too. Sometimes my best isn't good enough. I know I am the best. But I don't say it any more. Because it was misinterpreted. I get up every morning and say it to myself, so I enjoy what I do. For the audience to believe in me, I've to believe in myself. People who have no knowledge of films are sitting in judgment over our cinema. It's okay. They're doing what they are because they don't know any better. They're doing their job. I'm doing mine. So far I've enjoyed it. And as long as I continue to enjoy it I'm sure my audience will enjoy watching me.

    What next?

    I shoot for Yash Chopra's film for a month. Then I stay three-four months at home to be with the children. That's how I planned it this year. But I think I should take a holiday to be with the kids every two-three months whenever the children have holidays. I'll also finish my book. It will be called "20 Years Of A Decade".

    Do you like what you've written?

    I always like what I do.


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