The King Speaks | In Conversation with Shah Rukh Khan | Uncut - Part I

After a year long wait (or perhaps, more), he is back with an all new release. After generating maximum curiosity with teasers, posters and BTS shots all year round, Shah Rukh Khan is ready with the much anticipated Christmas release of 2018 - Zero. What clearly looks like India's very own VFX marvel to watch out for, Zero will have Khan collaborating with film maker Aanand L Rai (known for his romantic-dramas set in the heartland of India), for the very first time. While the actor is known to experiment with his avatar in every film, be it Ra. One, Chak De India or Fan, it would be for the first time that he will seen as a dwarf on the big screen. And no, this ain't your regular fare, where a body double or fake tricks are used. Zero is said to be a state of the art VFX film, and Khan's team at Red Chillies VFX promises to leave no stone unturned to turn it into a memorable experience for the cine goers.

On a breezy December evening, while trying to catch up with the peak hour Mumbai traffic, we were invited for a conversation with Khan at a suburban studio. It was a tough week for the actor, what with back to back events, a big fat Indian wedding, and promotions for the film in Dubai. Dressed looking his dapper best, complete with a grey jacket to beat the breeze, Khan walked out of his swanky vanity van and rushed in to greet us. Despite the tough schedule, he looked happy (and handsome as ever) and welcomed us with a smile. What followed was an uninterrupted, long conversation on all things cinema, life, VFX, and of course - being Bauua Singh for Zero. As he continued to sip on hot coffee from his tumbler, we got ready to shoot our questions! And of course, the actor was all ears, as he sat down for a chat, while flashing those legendary dimples. Here's our much awaited interview, an uncut conversation series, presented in two parts. Presenting Part I of our conversation with Shah Rukh Khan:

What went into the conceptualisation of your character - Bauua Singh? What were the key personality traits kept in mind, before the character was actually given shape? 
It's not really experimental, but just a physical difference in a character. As much as growing a moustache, but the technology to create this and the process took very long. Also, the film's basis being that all of us spend most of our time wishing that we could be happier. I wish I had this, or could do that. And, we have so many people around us telling us how we should be. But, we don't realise that each one of us are unique. Nobody is perfect, except I joke - Katrina Kaif (laughs). Jokes apart, we can agree that no individual is perfect, either mentally, emotionally or physically. I think we should accept that fact, so that we don't waste time trying to be someone else, while time passes away. Because I believe that life is too short. You just need to believe in yourself - this is who I am, and this is the best I can be. Look at things, that you otherwise consider as flaws, like your uniqueness. Agar main height main chota hoon, toh woh ek advantage hai. If you are someone who cribs - main lamba nahi hoon, gora nahi hoon, patla nahi hoon, ya mere maa baap vapas nahi aa sakte hain; Just tell yourself - let me enjoy this one life that God has given us. To be able to create that vibe in Zero, we needed some incompleteness in our film. So, we added three - there is a physically challenged person, there is a neurologically challenged person, and then, you have the most beautiful woman, who is emotionally challenged. If we accept our flaws and limitations, we can grow as a human being.

Bauua Singh is clearly portrayed in a natural manner, without the unnecessary dose of emotions or sympathy. Was that intentional and integral as well for the film?
That's precisely why we chose to have Bauua's physicality a certain way. It could have been any of the three characters, but this was integral to the story. In fact, we were worried that this should not become the main stay of the film. Thankfully, from whatever I have seen so far, I feel that you overcome that right after 10-15 minutes. We definitely didn't want his height to be a gimmick. Aanand [director] hasn't shot any sequence where people go 'Arey dekho, chota height wala ghoda chala raha hain.' Even if he is doing that, then it's normal. The idea was to ensure that his character is acceptable. Secondly, when you have characters with special ability, a lot of emotions shift towards sympathy. Hence, we have ensured that the characters don't appear like they are in need of sympathy. It shouldn't be like 'Arey Bechara' or 'Bechari'. Whether it's from their friends, family, those around them or even the audience. We wanted to bring about an equality, and not bank on sympathy. And, I don't think any human being looks for it either. Yes, we look for love, friendship and happiness. But, definitely not sympathy.

No individual is perfect, either mentally, emotionally or physically. I think we should accept that fact, so that we don't waste time trying to be someone else

Considering this was the first time you are essaying the role of a dwarf, did the character come with its own set of challenges for you as an actor?
No, I think VFX made things very easy for me. So, during the first 7-8 days, the process took us much longer than we thought, and then we realised. We took 200 days to make the film, and that was followed by a lot of work on post production. Beyond that, I don't think so. Zero is a very cosy and emotional film. By solely highlighting that this is a VFX film, we didn't want to lose out on the small joys, relationships and elements that make it different. So, the VFX team told us - "Behave the way you are. We will manage the rest." So, I had to be careful of minute things. Like, I can't walk with a longer slide. If I climb stairs, it has to be a ramp, so that my steps looks smaller. Some touch ups during dance. Otherwise, I was more or else asked to behave normally. While shooting, I used to actually stand in a pit most of the times. So, rest of the cast could see me from a certain angle.

Was there any real person who inspired or helped you understand the nuances required to essay Bauua Singh, especially the movements as a dwarf?
Yes! Ashish, who is an actor from Delhi, helped with everything behind the scenes. The idea was not to use a body double, so we didn't want to duplicate. But, Ashish has worked really hard. He would enact every scene before we did the final shot, so that the character has the right perspective. That was a technical requirement. He was extremely helpful and sweet.

For me, the journey is important. I don't focus on the finish line, but look at it from the perspective of a milestone

Zero is considered to a complete number, yet incomplete. What's your perspective towards the number like, and how do you co-relate it to the film? Also, do you perceive yourself as a complete artist?
Zero is a perspective. It is nothing, and yet complete. That's the whole film. Sab nazariye ki baat hain. I'll tell you what, I have never felt complete. As an artist, I still feel incomplete, and if I am not, then I would not like to work. Why else would I wake up in the morning and strive to work harder than I did a day before? I am always thinking whether I can bring in something new within the commercial cinema set up that I work in - be it as an actor, producer or whichever capacity it maybe. So, I am extremely restless. I believe that if you think you are complete, then you are boring. I don't look at things in order to complete them. For me, the journey is important. I don't focus on the finish line, but look at it from the perspective of a milestone. I never plan things, nor do I have set ideas - this is how much I should earn, the number of awards I should win, or how many hit films I should have make. It's all very organic, because once you work in the industry as long as I have, specifics become less important. You can't pinpoint and say, "Picture aisi banao, toh aisi chalegi. Friday ko collection hoga," No matter how big an expert you are, eventually, the business is complete dependent upon the story that you are telling. So, I find myself becoming lesser expert about a film, and I think that's one reason why I am enjoying the process of working on the films that I am doing. I am just very happy, and after working in the industry for 25 years, the only reason you should continue working should be for pure happiness of your art.

You have spoken about the amount of efforts that have gone into the making of this film. Is there any amount of nervousness, especially since you are trying something unique yet again?
I think for this film, I am a little more nervous than the usual. We've been working really hard on all the aspects related to the film since so many months now. Through the process, you get so tired, that you really have no feeling left. You just hope that what you have made is liked and accepted by the audience. And, you never know. Sometimes, people end up liking films that you don't think are that great, and then, some don't like what you think is good. I have worked for so many years, but I can't analyse how a film should be. I guess those who spend money on it are the ones who can analyse it best - the audience. So, I just let things be. Ab jaisi hai, vaisi hai. Uska kuch kar nahi sakte (smiles).

Stay tuned for Part II of our candid conversation with Shah Rukh Khan!

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1 comment:

  1. Awesome!!! It was too good and very unique concept for the movie..It was very much exciting to read the thought process and Journey of the movie. Excited to watch!!! ����


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Priya Adivarekar

Priya Adivarekar - Founder and Creative Director at Diary of a Dancebee. She is also a renowned Voice Actress and award winning artiste, with serious passion for dance. When not working round the clock, she can be seen reading, enjoying a movie-binge or listening to music.
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