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Catching the cat by the whiskers

RANA SIDDIQUI

Shah Rukh Khan shares his views about "Paheli" and a lot more about his life.


I keep on thanking Allah that He has granted me so much before reaching the age of 40 Shah Rukh khan



FOR A MEANINGFUL PUZZLE: Shah Rukh Khan turns a ghost in "Paheli".

`No please! It is not a period film. It's a folk tale,' Shah Rukh Khan interrupts as one categorises "Paheli", his much-talked-about film releasing this Friday, as set in a moment in time.

An all-allegorical tale of love and mysticism, "Paheli" "is a serious film," King Khan adds, for it is coming from a thinking man called Amol Palekar.

Amol has penned the script of the film with his wife Sandhya Gokhle, though the original story has long rolled out from the pen of a powerful Rajasthani writer Vijay Dan Detha. Amol is also the director of "Paheli".

"Main to maskhara aadmi hoon. I really like comedy. If I had my way, I would have incorporated a lot of comic elements in the film and presented it as a surprise element in it. I would have done so because the story is very serious and the comic element would have provided some lighter moments and also because I haven't done much of comedy of late, especially in these kind of films. But when I discussed it with Amol, he said he wanted to retain the seriousness of the subject and comic elements would take that away," Khan speaks his heart out, as always.

The film is a love story of a beautiful Rajasthani girl, Lachchi portrayed by Rani Mukerji, who marries Shah Rukh. The story takes a twist when she finds out that he is actually a ghost! "We have changed the film's ending. The film is actually a serious adaptation of Vijay Da's story. Let me tell you that there is no melodrama in the end because it is meant for a niche, thinking audience. Jisse chicken pasand hai aap use noodles nahin khila sakte (you can't sell noodles to a chicken lover).

But at the same time, you have to look at its economics. We have underplayed the comic element in the film, but it is not totally absent."

He has sported a thick moustache in the film for the first time, something that he himself got quite wary of.

"Badi garmi lagti thi vo moti moti munche laga kar (it used to feel very hot sporting those thick moustaches) more so because of the high mercury level in Rajasthan. Vaise bhi mujhe moonch pasand nahi (I don't like moustaches at all) but in Rajasthan, all sport moustaches. My character would have looked unreal without that. But thank God, shooting was over in 45 days, so I didn't have to endure it more than I could take it," he relates.

His children found him "very funny" with moustaches in the film's promos as they did when they saw him in "Asoka" with long hair. "They find me funny anyway," Khan laughs like a child.

A novel trend

In the past, period films based on novels like "Devdas", "Pinjar" and now "Parineeta" have won accolades from the audience. But Khan doesn't see it as an emerging trend in Bollywood.

"We always draw from our history. In almost all our films, we draw one or the other thing from the Ramayana, the Mahabharata or any such period literature, which people fail to notice. It is just that when a film is completely based on a novel or mythology, it gets noticed," Khan argues.

Recently, when he went to Amsterdam to attend the IIFA Awards, people mobbed him. His iconic status has cut across the world. "I keep on thanking Allah that He has granted me so much before reaching the age of 40. Yet every Friday when my film releases, it is an exam time for me. My fate changes very Friday. I try to justify the status that my fans have bestowed on me.I keep asking myself, `Do I deserve all this?' I am alone in the race, there is no one I try to beat or get threatened by," he says.

"Besides big cities like Amsterdam, where there is much fan following for me, I also try to gauge the pulse of people in small towns across the world by doing stage shows there. Take for instance, in South America, I was the first Indian to do a stage show before 13,000 people. That Germans and Japanese watch lots of Hindi films was an eye opener for me. In Amsterdam, there are two-three cinema halls in which only Indian films are released. I believe, it is a good news for Indian film industry," chuckles Khan.

Besides films, he says, what gives him pleasure is sitting alone for some time, away from the din and dust of shoots, hustle bustle of ever-pacing time. Peace to himself is something that he had to barter to reach such an iconic status.

Admits Khan, "Recently, I was sitting alone in a corner in a TV studio after a long time. My interview was about to begin. The show anchor asked me, `Shall I begin?' I said, No! Today, I have met myself after a long, long time. I want to enjoy the meet," and Khan was obviously "very happy" that day. "Log mujhe bahut commercial samajhte hain (people think of me as a commercial man). But I say to myself, let them say anything till I am a star," - a dash of arrogance, a tinge of pride brimming up. But Khan can afford to do it!

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