Don se yaad aaya… You are doing an action film after almost five years, even though it is earthy action. I am sure you enjoyed it because action is one of your favourite genres.
(Smiles) I really love action, yaar. But I had a little problem because I did two action sequences after my knee problem. But Ravi Verma, the action director, understood. And what I really like about Rahul in this case is that he was very clear that the action should not become over-the-top. It should be real and gritty, it should be stylish because we are selling it in the popular zone, but it should not be like dum lagaya toh udd gaya. When you watch the scenes, when he fights, you can feel he is tired, he is also getting beaten up and he is also trying to get back in the fight. So there is a quality to action which is kind of new, not only for me but for the audience to also enjoy.
You like all that blood on your face in an action sequence!
Yeah, yeah, and in this a lot of people beat me up with a purpose!
Your walk is a little different in this film.
I normally create a walk for my characters. Even in Dear Zindagi, there is a walk which is a very elite, rich man’s walk. I was very clear, especially because I wear a Pathani in the film, that there has to be a specific walk which is not gunda but has dignity and power, like a lion walks in his territory. You know, moohalle ke gundoon ka ek ownership ka walk hota hai like yeh sab mera hai. And they only drop that in their personal life but when they are in public, even if they are dancing, they have that dadagiri. This is something I work on as an actor on every character that demands it.
It’s been a long time since you communicated through your eyes, which sometimes says a lot more than words can.
Rahul was very clear that the character is so powerful that he should not be very animated. Like how the Godfather was… Thoda sa karo aur log sunnteh hai tumhari because you are such a big man. There are some scenes where he doesn’t even say anything. Rahul used to tell me in some scenes that let’s not say any lines but convey what the character is feeling though expressions. And Nawaz Bhai (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) also has very expressive eyes. So we have shot a lot of our scenes very close, with only us in the frame.
Are the spectacles part of this thought process?
No, Rahul feels that only geeks are made to wear specs, like in Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, he wanted to give specs to a guy who is very dangerous. Uski bhi toh aankein kharab ho sakti hai. So it is an irony! And he hates it. So if anyone teases him by calling him ‘Battery’, he gets very angry.
When you make a film in the real zone, it is important that the characters that surround the established star or hero look very real. That way, they make the star or the hero look very real. So it was a conscious effort not to take typical people for the different characters in this film. I have not worked with Nawaz bhai before, Zeeshan, Mahira or the actor who is playing my mother in the film. I have some friends as well in the film, they all look very real, yaar. Their way of acting is also different, it is not a set piece.
Just like Ashutosh (Gowarikar) was in Swades, here Rahul too was very clear that I would look way more real with these actors backing me. It helped me a lot in Swades and I think it will help me in Raees as well.
Whose idea was it to release the film on Wednesday January 25?
I discussed it with Rakesh ji (Rakesh Roshan) twice and he said that 26th was a superstitious date for him. So I called everyone and said that Rakesh ji was very clear that his film would release on 26th Jan and he would not shift it to any other date.
So I asked the team whether we should release our film on 25th Jan. This way, we would also get one free day and they would also get a holiday the next day. When we started talking to theatre owners to do this, they also decided to release it on 25th Jan. I think they also thought that it was a better day to release the film and I feel that’s all right. We are all friends, at the end of the day.
What is going to happen on 25th Jan?
We have been sitting on this film for a year-and-a-half, so I hope all the time and effort that has gone into Raees will be liked by the audience. It is a great effort, and I am not saying this because it is my film. In fact, every film is a great effort. I am sure a lot of effort has gone into making Kaabil and it is a great film. I just hope we are able to reach enough people… people of different ages, stages, multiplexes, single screens… because the Holy Grail of filmmaking is to be able to show the film to the masses and the classes. I feel this film has that good mix and I hope the audience feels the same way.
What else is left for Shah Rukh Khan to do?
Now… I guess to play a dwarf! (Chuckles)