How do you feel on being the only one from the entertainment world being selected in the top 500 besides A R Rahman?
I don't think a list of this nature is of a competitive type to feel proud about. It's not about a list of awards that I have won. I am a Muslim by birth and because of the kind of cinema I do, I assume must be influencing lives of people across the world. I have been actively working in the film industry for 18 years and my work has gone across the world, my films and done well in many places including Germany, Poland, Dubai, USA, Morocco and South East Asia. People know me well because of my films but I never felt that I was different. I'm in the field of mass communication and am doing my work. That's it.
Why do you feel you were chosen?
I think it could be because of the kind of films I do. I try to do films that have variety and are about goodness and hope. They give a direction to a life. I have done films on romances to patriotic dramas like Chak De! and funny entertainers like Om Shanti Om — films that try to give a kind of positive message to people. I hope in this I am able to influence the lives of many, especially youngsters and children. It's about giving some kind of direction to their lives. Like I might tell my children to study hard or teach them how to lead a good life.
What do you feel is your contribution as an educated liberal Muslim in the world today?
These are categories I am not comfortable with as I don't think I have done much to justify the tags. Though I am very proud to be a Muslim and an educated and liberal one at that, I am immensely proud to be Indian. I have very strong views on religion and how people should behave but that's about it. I just do my work. I truly believe your work defines you. I am not a social activist. I spend time with my family. At the most, I teach my kids to do namaaz and pray to Allah. Maybe I have given neat and clean hits which has given me money and fame but for me it's been like a good regular job. I have chosen to do cinema which has a very positive impact and that's what influences people and gets me the tags.
Your next film is My Name Is Khan. Do you feel it's a more international film which should be seen by all and will have a far-reaching influence?
I have never been a strong advocate for global cinema because I don't think our films turn the tide around though my directors and distributors feel otherwise. Having said that, I will add that MNIK is a very special topic about humanity in the garb of a Muslim character. The basic tenet of any religion — be it of Allah, God or Bhagwan — is that you have to be a good human being and Khan in MNIK is one. The way Karan has handled his love story in a dramatised form is amazing. It's a love story where the character has to overcome obstacles in the path of love and that obstacle is the world view. How he overcomes that to win his love is what MNIK is about. The film is made on a large canvas and made larger with Fox coming on board. The subject material is adapted in terms of humanity in a very entertaining way. And with Karan, the best filmmaker in India today directing the film and Fox distributing it — the message of love, the way it has been shot internationally and the way of releasing it, might have all the possibilities of an international release. It's going to be released in a way no Hindi film has been released internationally before with mega prints and the trailer releasing with Avatar in a first of its kind.
To you, who's the most influential person in the world?
Like every movie star's influence changes with every B-O release, I think even across the globe people's influence changes. Today, there is not just one global influence but a collective of influences. I don't believe the world can be run by one influential person right now. The world has become too intelligent to be demarcated by one person. It's the good thoughts of many. Like Bill Gates, Mukesh Ambani, Obama are very influential and wonderful in their field of work but collectively, they are fantastic.
To you, what is true power or influence?
For me, in means to be able to affect people in a positive manner and bring a smile on their faces. It should be able to affect young minds in a good sense.
The first look of Karan Johar's My Name is Khan will be unveiled on Wednesday night at 10 pm across all Star network channels. The three-minute promo will then be given to news channels and other media outlets to broadcast. The theatrical promo is attached with James Cameron's Avatar which releases this Friday.