After the debacle of his two films back to back, Shah Rukh Khan is looking forward to Raees, in which he plays a don. A lot is riding on it. Guzzling black coffee, he exudes energy at the stroke of midnight. “I never get tired. I enjoy working. I try to sleep less so I get more hours to work,” he says.
He plans to start leading a healthier life each year. “I decide I’ll sleep at 10, wake up at 7 am, exercise and stop drinking and smoking. I’m trying to quit smoking now.”
He destresses with his children. “I love spending time with Abraham. He is going to playschool. Next year he’ll go to regular school, so I’ll miss him. I watch films or clean my cupboards. Sometimes I clean half a cupboard and leave it halfway if I have work. I don’t allow anyone to touch my cupboards,” he says.
About Raees, he says the word means “benevolent in Urdu. It is about one who walks with people. Even a fakir can be raees. It doesn’t mean he is wealthy. He is good-hearted or a giving person. When you see the film, you’ll realise he is not wealthy, he has problems, but he helps people. He is a decision-maker and a giving person”.
How does he relate to the title? “I have a giving nature. Life has given me a lot, so I don’t mind giving back. I don’t want things for me. If a man becomes a big star, what more can he ask for? He should be giving.”
About Raees glorifying crime, Shah Rukh says, “It’s a movie and not to be taken seriously. We are not glorifying crime, it’s a point of view. There are meaningful cinema such as Dangal, Swades, Chak De! India. In Baazigar, I was a bad man, but you don’t become that just by watching a film. I’m always clear that such characters should not be glorified.”
“Many people told me to do only good movies so that people will love me. But I believe people love me because I play different roles. I have done movies like Darr, Baazigar, Don and Fan, which had realism and people loved them. It’s all about storytelling. I am not like those characters in real life.”
Director Rahul Dholakia has said that no one but Shah Rukh could play Raees. “They said we have never seen you with kohl, so we tried that. The costumes with bell bottoms and big-collared shirts was the 80s look. My look changes three times in the film, so my glasses also change. When I was dubbing, we decided to make the voice more gruff so it seems more earthy and better.”
Salman Khan recently said that Shah Rukh can easily be moulded into his roles. “I like to believe that, but I’m doing commercial films. This is not a hero type of role. But when I get a chance for sophisticated roles such as Fan or Dear Zindagi, I take them up. For my character of Dr Jehangir Khan in Dear Zindagi, Gauri Shinde and Alia were clear that he should be gentle but not feel old as Alia is younger to me, but it should be like a love story.”
Raees also stars Nawazuddin Siddiqui in a pivotal role. “Nawazuddin is a classical theater actor. Actors have a different language. Emotions are the same, but how we emote is different.”