In the 20 years of my career, I’ve seen so many changes in every aspect of show-business and two decades on, I no longer have any sort of criterion for signing on a film. For me, it’s all about the people I work with. That’s it.
I don’t think of the scripts. I know the story. I’ve the experience to understand where it’s heading. And those who approach me trust me enough. They know I will not mess around with the film I am doing as an actor, as a creative person.
Similarly, I don’t look into the business aspects. That is left to my production office. I just ask my office, “Have we done well?” Which often means, “Have we lost money?” Believe me, when they say, “We have done well,” it means we have not lost money. Whatever we gain goes back to the office. I’ve never taken a dividend from my office since I started it. And I don’t intend doing that now. Since it is not my money, I don’t count it.
Yet, talking of the money a particular film has made or is making has become a matter of intense discussion today. Talking of a film’s opening, the kind of opening and its gross collections are fine. But sorry, comparisons are not acceptable.
The gross collections of a particular actor’s film on its first weekend cannot be compared to the collections of another actor’s film during the same period. The two films would not have been made on the same scale or canvas or even at around the same time.
With every passing day, box office grosses are more than likely to rise, including the first weekend and total gross collections. Today’s volume of business was unimaginable yesterday.
Last year, immediately after the release of Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, most people said the film had drawn a mixed response. For me, audiences saw it and audiences liked it. We had made this film from the heart, and everyone appreciated it. See, the content was very different. Adi (Aditya Chopra) took a big risk by opting for this kind of project. For me, Sahni was the film’s hero, and he did not have a six pack.
Coming back to money, I don’t follow it. Everyone from the trade called me and said, “Sir, ab toh sab maanne lag gaye.’ For me, I’ve found real joy in an incident during one of my visits to Nanavati Hospital where I was addressed as Suri saab. Earlier, too, I’ve been addressed by the names of characters I have played, like from Baazigar, Darr and others.
Frequently, there is discussion on which actor is getting how much money for his film projects. I can’t speak on behalf of anyone because I’ve no idea what others are demanding and taking. And I won’t give you an idea of what I take. I take what I decide, and what I need to, whether for movies or endorsements.
I’ve been doing ads much before anyone did them in a structured commercial way. Some of my associations are so long that I can’t even think of disassociating with certain products in my mind or heart. They just come and tell me, “Shah Rukh, next year renewal.”
Of late, whether it is the film industry or the real estate sector, everyone has been facing the crunch that came with the recession. Obviously, because the recession is worldwide, it will have an impact one way or another.
Interestingly, two of the businesses that have been least affected by the recession are the cosmetics and entertainment industries. Thankfully, I have not heard of any film getting shelved. But yes, the kind of prices that were being demanded did reflect the slowdown. The people that form the product – the actor, the director, the writer, the musicians and producers – their fees were affected. One will have to market a product cheaper now. If a moviegoer can’t afford a ticket of 250 Rupees, you need to bring the price down.