You sound very stressed?
These last few days have been very hard on me, thanks to all the hassles connected to the Indian Premiere League (IPL).
Was it a shock to you when the IPL was relocated to South Africa?
The situation is such, what to do? The option was to either have it outside India or not at all. No one is happy to shift from home ground. That thrill of playing across our own country at domestic tournaments is gone. Going to various cities with the matches is a high. However, people can still watch it on TV. That's still there.
But an Indian event shifted to South Africa?
I know. But we've to be optimistic. Last year when the IPL started everyone thought it would flop. It became the biggest hit ever. Likewise the shift to SA could make the IPL bigger. What else can I do except be hopeful?
But it's being trans-located to a new culture and environment?
Of course it is! But what can we do? I've always believed whatever happens in life happens for the best. The timing of the IPL crisis was unfortunate. My most challenging film Heaven On Earth is on release. I'd have liked more time nurturing it. You know I did Heaven On Earth for myself. Lots of times I've done things for this reason and that. But this time it was entirely for me. And I don't mean that in any selfish way. I just needed to connect more with my inner self. This film made me do that.
Tell me about your preparation for the role.
I've worked quite a lot with battered women. I've studied so many kinds of mental disorders. Domestic violence comes much after other forms of disorder. Every scene in Heaven On Earth rings true. I had a hundred notions on how to play the role. But when I met abused women I decided it has to be very real. I'm very proud of it. Let's see how the audiences in India react.
So the timing of IPL was unfortunate then!
Yes, it was a little unfortunate. No matter how positive we try to be about the situation there's undoubtedly a feeling of dismay about the IPL moving out of India. It's amazing how such a thing could happen.
It's like uprooting a national event?
Exactly. It's like asking an actor to perform in a theatre where nobody knows him. But we'll make sure that the quality and profile of the game doesn't change. Only two percent of the audience watches the game in a stadium. Most of them watch the game on television. But there's that vibe when the game happens on home ground. That spirit can't be captured anywhere. Having said that, I don't want to sound whiny and petty, I want to thank South Africa for agreeing to host the IPL games. They've gone out of their way to accommodate us, flung their fields open to us. I think South Africa will make a beautiful home for the games.
Wasn't the choice between South Africa and England?
Yes there were several options. But it finally came down to choosing between those two countries. We didn't want to go into a place where there was too much rain. I think SA will be fun. Who knows, they might even allow me to play. That's my secret fantasy. Miracles do happen, you know.
So is South Africa going to be the permanent venue for the IPL?
If India decides to have elections every year, who knows? Ironically, South Africa is also holding elections.
Is it just elections that ousted IPL from India? Or was there a security scare after what happened to the Sri Lankan cricket team in Pakistan?
I refused to believe India is scared about the security. Does the country shut down because we can't get enough security? I think we need to vote even more carefully. We must put the proper people in places of power. I don't think we should vote for anyone -ANYONE - who has got criminal records. See their track records and then vote.
How will you be ready for the IPL in SA in time?
We Indians don't only exist in chaos. We thrive in it. Even last year when IPL happened for the first time we grappled with all odds. I know I'm going to have sleepless nights. But that's a different story. I can't pretend I'm not disappointed by the relocation. But South Africa is a terrific country. I'll have lots to do besides cricket. In Punjab it was difficult for me to move out. Preity Zinta will have a blast shopping in SA. Preity Zinta the team owner is worried. We've no players from SA. Neither does Shahrukh.
Are the boys demoralized by the relocation?
Their choice was between no IPL and IPL in South Africa.