Whenever a new film starring any of the Khans — Shah Rukh, Salman or Aamir — releases, trade world as well as the media turn their focus to their respective film’s businesses, and comparisons are made between the box office figures of the films. As Shah Rukh Khan’s latest film, Jab Harry Met Sejal hits the theatres, HT chats with the superstar about his equations with the other two Khans and if they ever discuss work.
What is your relationship with your contemporaries — especially the Khans?
I wish everyone well, and I am sure they wish me well too. We (the Khans) have been doing this [acting] for too long. Initially, for the first 5-6 years, when there are new actors, such things (competition etc.) might happen, especially when people around you talk on those lines but when you have been there [in the industry] for so long, two things become very clear — firstly, if people say that you are done with when a newcomer is making his/her debut, it’s not true. I have seen enough of that, and secondly, if someone says, ‘you are competing with your contemporaries,’ then that’s not true either since the ‘contemporaries’ have known each other for very long.
Over the past few years, your equation with Aamir and Salman has been talked about a lot?
If anyone saw us [contemporaries] – the most of us — sitting together, they would be surprised. I am not extremely friendly with some [actors] as we don’t know each other personally. But if Aamir, Salman and I specifically sat down and chatted, you would see a very different relationship. So, for instance, Aamir can say, ‘yaar, tune abhi tak Dangal (2016) dekhi nahi (you haven’t watched Dangal till now).’ And I will tell him, ‘I will watch it when I am free.’ So, he will say, ‘You call me up; I will come over.’ In fact, I had called him the other day but he was leaving for a foreign country.
So, the three of you never talk about films?
We don’t talk work at all. In fact, we have never done it. So, our equations are on a very different level. We never sit together, gauge and judge that, ‘accha, meri film nahi chali (oh, my film didn’t do well).’ It’s not like Salman will ever sit with me and say, ‘oh, your film didn’t do very well. What have you done?’
Do you see any common factor between you, Salman and Aamir?
I think all of us know that we share something common but that commonality is not films or stardom. That commonality is something else, which we also don’t know. So it’s very difficult [for us] to assume that [other] people will know about it and so, we will compete about that commonality. I don’t think so.
Do you feel that your friendship with the two of them is special because it has developed over the years?
If I think hard, it’s like there are three people from different places but they manage to get a similar thing. But all three achieve that through different processes and they also think very differently about it but the beauty is that the ‘thing’ is the same. So I think we have a strange sense of camaraderie, and a kind of non-blood brotherhood (smiles).
Till date, a number of stories have done the rounds vis-à-vis the ‘rivalry’ between Aamir, Salman and you…
To be absolutely honest, there is no such feeling (of competing with one another). The easiest thing would be to say either yes or no, but there is nothing like that between us. When we talk to each other, I think work is the last thing on our minds.
So, can it be safely said that you three share a special relationship that people can’t see from the outside?
I think the three of us know that we have something in us that makes us think on similar lines. So, if I say something, Aamir will understand and if Salman has to say something, Aamir and I will understand, and that’s how it goes. There might not be any fourth person in the world who has been doing it for so long and will understand the same things. Even we don’t understand or try to understand that camaraderie. We know about each other’s feelings.
Since the film industry is such a competitive place, do things such as box office and film’s business never come to your mind vis-à-vis Aamir and Salman?
I think out of 50 years of my age, I’ve worked for nearly 26 to 27 years. And in those ‘working’ years, I have been on the sets at least half a day on an almost daily basis. So, it means that I have spent about 13 years of my life on the sets. Actually, it would be 15 years if I also include my television stint etc. In those 15 years — whatever time I am left with after spending 50 per cent of it on the sets — I’ve run a cricket team, managed two big theme parks for kids and spearheaded a VFX company, besides the fact that I also produce films and help my kids with their studies too.
That does sound like a lot of work.
Now, I’ve also started cooking at home whenever there’s time. So, after doing all these things, the last thing that comes to my mind is what others are doing or what’s happening to them or their movies. Within a day, if I can manage to finish what I intend to do; it will be a huge thing in itself. When I am doing a scene, I don’t think how the other person is doing it, then why should I think how a particular film is doing (at the box office).