By: Mid-Day, IndiaFM
Friday, October 26, 2007
All actors do interviews to promote their films. The date and time is fixed, and then an hour before the appointment, the PR girl calls to say, “No personal questions please." There is more torture ahead. As you turn the Dictaphone on, the actor will switch off. You have no option but to use third degree to get him to say anything.
After that tiring endeavor, you return to your laptop and work hard to make him 'look good' to his eager fans out there. Shahrukh is probably the only actor in the country who makes you look good when you interview him. For weeks, people will call you to gush about what a great interview it was. However, you cannot take credit. It is all SRK. Here, King Khan talks about his upcoming film, about being pitted against Saawariya, about being apolitical and more… read on.
Even before the release of Om Shanti Om (OSO), you have made a huge profit.
We have made good money with OSO. Going by the reports, I have already made 85 crores for the film. If I had made 85 crores from my film, I would not be sitting here and promoting it. Every film that I have produced except for Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani has been a plus before the release of the film. In PBDHH, we had 45 lakhs surplus but we spent that on publicity. Most of the films that I have produced, we've had a little more funds on the day of the release but they are not qualified to be defined as profit, because if the same film doesn't do well, then I return the money.
Is that a norm? To return the money if a film loses money?
No. I have this feeling that I am the biggest actor in the film industry, and so everyone dealing with me, needs to earn from me. So far, I have not dealt with corporates. I think, with them, I will deal a little differently because money-wise, they are bigger. When Paheli didn't do well, even to distributors like Ashtavinayak, I returned money. I called them and asked them how much money they'd lost and then I sent it across. Some of them have been kind enough to say, no it's okay. Some say okay, we don't want the full amount, just reimburse 50 per cent.
Are you planning to only work in your home productions from now on? Not counting one film a year for Karan Johar and Yash Chopra?
It's not like that. I would do any film. Unfortunately, the other one I was supposed to do with Vinod (Chopra) has not worked out because I wanted a little more time for Robot, and now Robot has also not worked out. So I am free now to do things. I am unemployed for the next eight months. What's happening is that as an actor, one gets offers of money, which are huge amounts. I've never taken this kind of money in my career. I've never taken even half the kind of money, which is being touted as my price.
This is happening after Chak De! India?
No, this has been happening for the last one year, ever since the corporate companies came into the business. The money being offered has changed for all actors. But I wonder - is it okay for me to burden a film with the kind of price people are ready to pay me? So I think of it this way - I will take my regular price as an actor, and then maybe I'll produce the film, so if we actually do make money, it becomes the cost of the production. And that goes as a profit for the production, and not as my price. If the film flops, then you are sitting with an actor who is nearly 50 per cent of the cost of the film. That is just bad economics for me. You make three films a year and if those films cost 150 crores, you end up with 75 crores - that's just not right. And if those films don't do well, you've really become a flop star. So it's not that I would not work for others. I need to work with people who would keep the pricing of the film low, and not burden it.
Sajid Nadiadwala recently said that it's not wise for OSO and Saawariya to release on the same day and one is bound to suffer. Comment.
(Laughs) Sajid is speaking from experience (last year, Sajid's Jaan-E-Mann and SRK's Don released together, and Sajid's film suffered). But I haven't had that kind of an experience. I don't know… I don't think it's wise, smart or intelligent. We are both selling films. Two products launched on the same day; obviously it's not good business.
Didn't you ask Bhansali to postpone the release?
I'd asked Bhansali to tell me his release date, so we would not clash but that didn't happen. Not because he didn't want to tell me, or he was hiding. He was not sure and then we had to take a call. I am a little sticky about my release date. That's been a thing with me as an actor also. I like to fix the date in advance. It's one of the organized bits of my filmmaking. I remember we didn't go ahead with Miramax for Main Hoon Na because they wanted to change the date. And we would've been the first company to tie up with an international company but I said no, I am not doing it. And they were really shocked. They said, it's just a date change. But I stuck to my date.
This doesn't have anything to do with numerology, right?
No, it's a normal business practice. If your paper comes at 8 am, you won't change it if some rival paper comes at the same time. You stick to what you believe in. Because that also fixes how you make the film. You start the film a year-and-a-half in advance and finish it.
What about the six-pack. Still there?
Just about… I have lost some weight; I have been down with viral fever for the last two weeks, so I have been eating khichdi but there is still definition and I will be back to working out soon and get back there.
You lost out on AR Rahman for OSO because he wanted to share the music rights. Regret losing him?
I don't. Rahman would've been fantastic but I think Vishal-Shekhar have done the best job of their career so far. I am thrilled with their music. I am very clear that one should work for the happiness of the film. If I have a problem working with you, I will not. Nothing personal. Everyone follows a few organizational rules and Rahman had some contractual issues. He was very clear. He said if I make an exception for you, I won't be able to set a precedent for others. And I believed for his business, it was better that he didn't work on our terms, so we didn't.