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Shahrukh plays hockey in reel life

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By: Devansh Patel, IndiaFM
Friday, July 27, 2007
You won't see him cry, you won't see him clean shaved, you won't see him romancing his co-stars and you won't see him bash up bad guys. King Khan, as he is fondly called is back in his third off beat role after Swades and Paheli where he plays the coach of a women's hockey team in what's considered to be one of his most challenging characters he has ever portrayed onscreen. Now, he talks about his next big release Chak De India.

Chak De India appears like a very non-SRK film with you having no romantic liaisons or tear-jerking concerns.
I have known the director (Shimit Amin) for years. He is a very simple, hardworking and talented guy. He has worked with me in the film Asoka. He's a very sweet, unassuming kind of a guy and to choose a film which is on sports and which is normally neglected is daring. Apart from Lagaan, Hip Hip Hurray and Iqbal we haven't really made sports film now. It's something that I wanted to do when I was younger but I didn't get a chance. So when I am old and grey and over the hill I am glad someone like Shimit thought that I could sort of fill in to a sports film. Field hockey has been a personal favourite sport of mine and I have been wanting my kids to learn it. I do feel I am no one to really comment from the outside that the state of Indian Hockey is not good but I have always felt that if there is anything I can do via the medium I love, that is acting, I will go to any extent to do it. Plus the fact that Yash Raj was producing it made it even special because they are all friends and family to me.

Also this time your character doesn't have a lover-boy image.
Yes. I play Kabir Khan. He is a coach and an ex-Indian hockey player. He is having some problems in his life and wants to overcome them without being cynical and disturbed. He decides in his mind and heart that he is going to do something positive about it. It's a film about achievement in the face of failure and it's a film that looks at failure in a positive way. The idea is to take on some kind of a challenge and try to overcome that obstacle which had stopped you earlier so I would say the character is quite aggressive when he wants to be. It's a mix of Jaideep's writing, Shimit's outlook, Adi's belief and my mannerisms and style - all rolled into one.

You don't look the regular Shahrukh in Chak De India
I have reached a stage where directors do not want me to look the same old ShahRukh Khan. Shimit wanted Kabir Khan and that's how I look. A tough coach and a determined coach. I think the producer, director and the writer all thought that may be with a beard and shorter hair I would look different and I was fine with it. Only it's very scratchy when you wake up in the morning. Even after a bath, you don't feel clean. I hope I don't have to grow a beard for another role for the next couple of years.

The entire hockey team in the film comprises of new actors.
Earlier I thought that working with newcomers would be a bit of a hassle because they would not know their lines. You know you become a little patronizing and a little kind at times, a little agitated and irritated too because things are not going the way you think they should go. But I think the whole production team had worked very hard with them and I do not want to take any credit away from these girls. I think they are very hardworking and wonderful. They have put their heart and soul into the film. They have practiced and learnt hockey, they have learnt the lines, they know the scenes they knew everything and at the end of it all after having worked for 18 years as an actor I thought I got a lot to learn.

Among the girls in the team, many of them must have been your fans.
We had a lot of readings before we started the film and couple of meetings so that we got easy with each other apart from some of them liking me. It's a little embarrassing because some of them were five to six years old when they saw my films. Then you suddenly realize, god! you are old and you've been in this industry for long. It was also important for me to be comfortable with them and not treat them like kids because the whole purpose of the character of Kabir is that he doesn't treat them like kids or girls he treats them like grown up, tough people. I think that little bit of being fans and stalwart compared to the others got over very fast in the reading and meeting stage and then we were all co-actors and co-actresses, just working together and having a great time.

You are known to be a sporty person. Did you play hockey in school?
Yes. I used to play a lot of field hockey in my school days. I was good at it but when I went and played for the film I was horrible. I was really awful. I had no stamina left. I think the technique of hockey has changed, Astroturf itself is very tiring. As shameful as it is to say but I thought I would be able to beat the girls but they kicked my butt as they were really good. I am no good at playing field hockey I realized. I realized while playing with them that it would be better if I use my status as a super star and not practice at all and tell them that I can pull it off by acting so I did that because I knew that no matter how much I practice, I would never be good at it but I have given it my best shot and hopefully it looks good enough.

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Read more about: asoka, shimit amin, shahrukh khan
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