Indian screen icon Shah Rukh Khan has starred in dozens of Bollywood blockbusters and is adored by millions, but there’s a movie he still dreams of making — one that’s a truly global hit.
“I would like to be a part of that one Indian film, as an actor, as a producer, as a gaffer, as a sound recordist, as a production manager, whatever, which becomes famous all over the world,” Khan told AFP in an interview.
“That’s my ‘Make in India’ dream. I’ve had this since 25 years,” he added, borrowing Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s much-trumpeted slogan for boosting manufacturing in the country.
The Asian giant’s Hindi film industry churns out hundreds of movies every year, raking in billions of US dollars in ticket receipts, but is yet to release a blockbuster that really takes Western box offices by storm.
“I hope to achieve that but I don’t sit down with people (and focus on) ‘What is the crossover film that we can make?’ No, I think it will happen because I believe in it,” said Khan.
The actor known in India as “King Khan” or simply “SRK” to his legions of fans is arguably Hindi cinema’s biggest and most-recognisable star of the modern age.
He shot to stardom in the mid-90s as the hero of romantic dramas such as Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (The Bravehearted Will Take Away the Bride) and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (Something Happens).
Khan is also known for lead roles in high-octane thrillers like Don and this year’s Fan while other major hits include the 2013 comedy Chennai Express and 2010’s My Name is Khan, in which he played a man with Asperger’s syndrome.
The 51-year-old boasts 22.2 million Twitter followers and regularly sees hordes of admirers gather outside his mansion by the sea in India’s commercial capital of Mumbai, the home of Bollywood.
His next film, called Dear Zindagi (Dear Life), hits cinema screens on Friday.
But Khan admits he initially had misgivings about playing the role of Jehangir Khan in the comedy-drama directed by Gauri Shinde.
“I’d be honest, I didn’t think I’d like the film. Not because it’s not a good film… But it’s not my genre of film. I like bad boys. I like James Bond,” he said.
Khan says his character plays the role of a “mentor, friend, philosopher, guide” to the much younger Kaira, played by upcoming Bollywood actress Alia Bhatt, 23, in the film which he says is “sweet” and “funny”.
He described Dear Zindagi as a feel-good movie about life and how to cope with it “not only as a youngster but as a parent, as a middle-aged person.
“It deals with all of them without being preachy,” he explained.
Khan, whose career as one of Bollywood’s most bankable actors spans three decades, says he doesn’t see himself as a real-life mentor to young actors, but will give advice if asked.
Khan has appeared in around 80 Bollywood movies and collected numerous accolades since travelling to Mumbai on a train from his hometown of Delhi in the early 90s with the clear intention of becoming a superstar.
“I always wanted to be famous, I wanted to be recognised, I want thousands of people outside my house, I don’t want to go on the beach and relax. If I want a McDonald’s I’ll open it in my house,” he said.
“When I was 25 I wanted to be like Madonna said: rich, famous, well-known, hard-working, recognised and get all the awards possible. I really enjoy being a star, I would not exchange it for anything.”
In Fan, released in April, he played the double role of a movie megastar and a crazed young admirer whose obsession with his idol turns increasingly violent after he fails to meet him.
SRK describes his own fame as being like an “out of body experience”.
“I’m extremely grateful and I don’t even understand how I’ve become what I’ve become.
“Does it even belong to me? I say this again and again, I’m just an employee of the superstar called Shah Rukh Khan. I have no idea how he does it.”