Shah Rukh Khan's check list 25 years ago was a simple one: he wanted to have a house with a garden and make ends meet. Today, his priorities have changed; he is a superstar who does films only to make people love him more than what they already do.
In a two-part interview with the Huffington Post, SRK opened up like never before. The actor spoke at length about his family, films and more.
SRK has achieved great success, but that doesn't make him lazy. He works hard for the people who stand outside his palatial bungalow, Mannat, in Mumbai and beyond.
Shah Rukh appreciates how his wife Gauri Khan has successfully created her own space and made peace with the fact that his live doesn't belong to her.
"To be able to take that for so many years and be able to carve an identity and space for yourself is extremely difficult. And Gauri has been great in making a space for herself in which she is not identified as Shah Rukh Khan's wife. By not doubting, talking, or doing anything, she's made her own identity and that takes a very large heart," he elaborated.
What has helped their marriage survive in an industry where long-term relationships break overnight are the kids. The little ones have kept the entire family together. He has the best conversations with his sons and daughters and is protective of them, like a regular parent.
A few weeks ago, a picture of his 16-year-old daughter Suhana Khan went viral. She was at a beach in a bikini posing next his little brother AbRam Khan. SRK went to media houses asking them to take it off their sites as he thought it was a little "cheap" to run the picture with inappropriate headlines.
"But when my daughter's pictures were splashed everywhere online and when I jumped to get it contained, I wasn't protecting her from the media — I was protecting her from me. It's my stardom that was the reason that picture made it to the news — it wouldn't have if she wasn't SRK's daughter. There could be someone running naked and that wouldn't be news," he pointed out.
SRK has made some good and bad choices, but he doesn't regret them as he is a film lover. He's done a "Dilwale" and then a "Fan." Although the Rohit Shetty directorial was trashed by critics and audience alike, he believes he acted better in it than what he did in his last film, "Fan."
"As an actor, choosing the film that I want to do is the freedom that I should have. When you sit with a story, sometimes you just want to do it. Like I mentioned, sometimes I realise it's not my world, but I get molded in that space only to see if I can pull it off. Sometimes I fail; other times I succeed. The success doesn't make me want to do the same thing again. Or the failure doesn't want me to not do it ever again. Instead, it makes me want to do it all over again. Because that part has to be done. I can't get it wrong," he pointed out.
On making money
SRK is one of the few who make money dancing at weddings and is not ashamed of doing so. He said one should do every job with dignity. He has the most respect for his chauffeur, security guard and house help, who make his job easier and are always there for him.
Growing up, he has seen poverty. His parents didn't have enough money to buy him a pair of shoes and would often joke about eating watered-down daal for dinner. Shah Rukh's father died because they couldn't afford the injections that were needed to cure him of his illness.
"Now I say this to everyone: don't be a philosopher or a teacher without being rich. Money is extremely important — earn it when you can," he said.
On pay disparity in the industry
The superstar believes that the leading ladies work 3 times harder, but are paid 10 times lesser. However, that isn't the case when they are working with him in films his banner, Red Chillies Entertainment, is producing. Also, names of actresses (in his films) appear before his own name.
"I don't talk about the change. I am the change. In my films, the girl's name always comes before mine. On my film's set, the girl is always in a higher position than men – nobody can call them 'tu;' it's always 'aap,'" he added.