Q. Do think this is a very experimentative film?
SHAH RUKH KHAN: I don’t think it’s an experimentative film, it’s how you try to create a character which is physically different, its similar to growing a moustache. But the technology to do this is very long. Also the film’s base includes the idea of people thinking that I wish I was like this or that and now there are so many people telling us also how we should be. We don’t realize that nobody is perfect except Katrina Kaif. But nobody is perfect either emotionally, mentally or physically. I think we should accept ourselves the way we are while life passes us by. Instead of thinking anything as incompleteness, you should think of it as a uniqueness. You should just enjoy this one life that God has given us. To be able to create that we needed three kind of incompleteness. One is physical, vertically challenged person, other is mentally challenged who is actually a genius but has cerebral palsy and other who is the most beautiful woman on the earth is emotionally challenge. We did not wanted people to focus on only the physical challenge factor, but after 10-15 minutes you overcome that. Me and Aanand didn’t want that to be a gimmick. We have also tried to keep in mind that in the whole movie, all the three characters don’t do anything which might invite sympathy towards their condition. Nobody wants sympathy or empathy, everyone wants love, friendship and happiness.
Q. Would you call this as the most challenging role of yours till date?
SHAH RUKH KHAN: No, I think the VFX made it very easy. It took us much longer to make the film than we realized, that is, 200 days. This film is very cosy, emotional and small film. We didn’t wanted to loose out the smallness, the relationships and every angle in the film to the fact that we are making a VFX film. We were told by the VFX people to behave the way you are, we will manage everything around you. Some small things were however were to be taken acre of while shooting like walking or climbing or dancing.
Q. Any dwarf person you have met in real life before shooting the film?
SHAH RUKH KHAN: We have a person BTS, his name is Ashish and he is an actor from Delhi. The idea was not to use body double so we didn’t want to duplicate. But he worked really hard as well. He was really helpful and sweet.
Q. How nervous or excited are you for Zero’s release?
SHAH RUKH KHAN: Normally we are working so much before the release, you get so tired, that you have no feeling left. You just hope that what you made is liked by people. I have worked for so many years but I can’t analyse how the film should be, the audience who spent money on it are the only ones who should analyze.
Q. Have you ever felt that your acting life is complete or personal life is complete? How do you strive for it?
SHAH RUKH KHAN: Zero is a perspective. I have never felt complete. As an artist, I am very incomplete. If I am not then I would not like to work. Why would I wake up in the morning and work hard for something so as as artist, I am still very restless. I am always thinking of bringing something new, as an actor or a producer. If you think you are complete, then you are boring. I don’t think of things as completing. I believe that the journey is important. If I cross something then I don’t think of it as an end line, I think of it as a milestone. But I never plan for it. If you work in films as long as I have then specifics become less important. All the business part of the movie completely depends on the story you are telling. I find becoming myself less and less expert about a film, that is why I am loving the films that I am doing. I am not looking for an end in that film. After 25 years of working, the only reason you should work is for happiness of your art.
Q. Do you think this film would be a game changer for you?
SHAH RUKH KHAN: I think technologically it already is. VFX has to be made very prominent in Hindi films. We assume that we are the best film makers in the world, but the new influx of audience that will come, say kids around 7-8 years old, they are not going to be very forgiving about cinematic visual and sound experience. Its a matter of time before all of the films would be dubbed. Most of the children would grown up watching those films, even in small town. They might be very unforgiving about this excuse we have in Hindi cinema. We must be the last generation to see a tacky film. Youngsters are going to be used to that quality of VFX. People think that I am thinking of VFX as only Bahubali, but that’s not true, VFX has to be used even for the smallest of films. We cannot tell sometimes when the VFX is used for smallest things like lighting, speed or camera movements. So, big and small directors should come forward to use the technology.
Q. So many of your films are ahead of its time like Ra-one and Zero with great technology. How do you feel about that?
SHAH RUKH KHAN: When the film flops, it is best is to say that they were ahead of their time. Its a great excuse but I feel, its good to feel that the film was ‘ahead of its time’. Like, Swades flopped but now its been talked about. So its the relevance of the film that we are realizing now and appreciate it. Zero is not based on technology but because of the characters, we needed to use VFX. We couldn’t shoot in lot of desired places so we had to use VFX. This one is not going to ‘ahead of it times’ but hopefully the story is familiar.
Q. Have you or the research team met anyone like Anushka’s character working for NASA in real life?
SHAH RUKH KHAN: We haven’t used NASA’s name, we have taken a few cinematic liberties. In life, Stephen Hawking was similar. The concept was to get the most intelligent person, having an issue with motor control, the most rash person having a physical challenge and the most beautiful woman having an emotional issue. It just amalgamates all three incompleteness that humans face.
Q. How did you switch from your character in the film to your normal life, as far as the psyche is concerned?
SHAH RUKH KHAN: I shot in pits which were one and a half foot deep. So personally I didn’t short. When Anushka is sitting on the wheelchair and I am standing, we actually become of the same height. Its like two steps below with others, it is quite difficult. We didn’t reshoot anything, couldn’t afford it time wise. I was asked to add style while doing few scenes but when I added my style, it looked a little wrong on a shorter person. So few things like hand and leg movements had to be adjusted. Few props were bigger for me.
Q. Your character shows a wicked sense of honour, is it from your own end?
SHAH RUKH KHAN: It could be, me, Himanshu and Aanand, have wicked sense of humour. But there is a reason for this. We didn’t make him angry or wicked badly, we made him funnily wicked. But sometimes he does says rude things but as the film progresses you find these rude things, very honest. So his honesty becomes better than his wickedness. His character has no change in him, he is like that till the end. He is who is is. Nobody changes to make others happy, they just become happy in their life, being who they’re, is the beauty of this story.
Q. Do you wake up and think ‘what’s next for me’?
SHAH RUKH KHAN: Initially, most journalists thought I was very rude and arrogant. But I wasn’t arrogant, I had lack of knowledge of art and craft of acting. Over the years, I realized how little acting I knew, when I knew very less, I said lot of things. Now that I know more, I realize there’s so much more to do. There’s a lot to do for me as an actor that keeps me going. We sometimes, unfortunately, reduce commercial acting to singing, dancing and fighting, which I don’t look down upon. But as I am growing, I wish I had known that there was so much more to this earlier. Sometimes you don’t know that the reaction of the audience is also important. the most important thing is, to tell a story that touches hearts. If something touches your heart then you won’t abuse it even if you don’t like it. Because of social media, you hear things a lot more now. Information need not be considered as true reaction. Now we are informed about 100 people talking. So information needs to be assumed properly and not assumed that it is negative.
Q. Were there any drawbacks of using VFX?
SHAH RUKH KHAN: Initially when we shot the song with Salman Khan and five small scenes in Meerut, we couldn’t take lots of moving shots so the film became very static. So then we had to buy a machine called technodolly, which is used a lot in Game of Thrones, for layering of background, actors and crowd. Buying the machine was not enough so we had to all the person who runs it. So the director had to learn how to run that machine. So its a lot of hit and try. There are lot of hitches that come through and you make few mistakes so some shots we had to give up as they looked unreal. Some look real, some look unreal.
Q. Is there a filmmaker you wish to work with?
SHAH RUKH KHAN: I really enjoyed working with Mani Ratnam, it was too much fun. Aanand sir is someone I would like to work again with. But I want to make an action film with him, it would be really good. Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s fun, its been a long time I have done something like this. There are many interesting filmmakers. Amongst the new ones, I think Raju Hirani would be fun to work with.
Q. How was working with the team of Zero?
SHAH RUKH KHAN: Working with them was fun. I felt a little odd initially to wear what my character is wearing. So Aanand sir encouraged me to wear it by making it designer and telling me that he is going to patent it. He thinks this will become a fashion statement and wants to market it. Even me and Zeeshan has an interesting give and take.
Q. Has your daughter shown some interest to become a part of industry?
SHAH RUKH KHAN: No, she wants to act but she needs to train for 3-4 years. She is doing few plays and theatre in London now and hopefully will shift to America. She came here to learn as a part of acting, to spend time on productions. And I wanted her to see Katrina and Anushka because both of them are such different kind of actors. Katrina has her own charm and Anushka has her own way of enacting things. I think, ground experience is good for actors or any job but you also have to finish your education. So, I want her to study for 3-4 years even if she wants to become an actor. In India, we don’t learn acting, we just assume that we are talented.