While in Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi you changed yourself entirely for the film, in Jab Tak Hai Jaan too you stepped into the serious zone. After experimenting with your films, was doing Chennai Express your way of telling audience that 'Ok, let me give you the SRK you want'?
On the contrary, I do keep hearing all the time that I do the same films over and over again. I actually don't listen to that. People may say that Shahrukh has done this or that but for me it is something new. When I started off, most of the actors started their career with a love story but then I did Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman, Deewana, Baazigar and Darr.
By the time I did DDLJ, people said that 'Oh, he is going to do a typical love story now'. But then I did it because I had never done a love story before. For me it was new because I hadn't done a story like this in first four years of my career. Agar main kuch kar raha hoon toh woh isliye kyunki mere liye woh naya hai.
After playing Raj in DDLJ, you are being Rahul in Chennai Express. Is that an intentional naming?
Absolutely. We have kept the name Rahul but then played it differently. Also, the joke is not in-house; hopefully that would work. It is a love story between Rahul and Meena. It is a comedy in Rohit's (Shetty) style. Everyone has a style – Karan has a style, Yashji had a style, Rajkumar Santoshi and Sanjay Leela Bhansali have a style.
For me, as an actor to be playing such a commercial character in his style is very different for me. Yes, it is a hero type of character but then he is also scared, hyper-tensed all the time and over reactive in the film. It has been a very satisfying experience. I can't go and work 200 days on a film without thinking that I am achieving some level of satisfaction.
You must also be satisfied with Deepika Padukone your co-star. For someone who started her career with you (in Om Shanti Om), is it a feeling of pride as a mentor?
Professionally if I was to say that I am her mentor then it would be taking away credit for the excellence and talent that she carries. It would be patronising as well. We are equal actors, it is just that our stardom changes. For Om Shanti Om, the fact that she was new makes her a bigger star. I was experienced but she made her presence felt and convinced everyone as a 70s superstar.
Yes, she is a big star in the country, both men and women included, and that without having an image. You can see that from Cocktail to Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani. She is very attractive in Chennai Express. As a person, she is an epitome of beauty. She is tall, her face has dimples, she has big eyes, she is a model, she speaks well, she is educated, she has everything going for her.
However most importantly, she is mouldable; that's her USP. She can be moulded even beyond her stardom. People don't expect that Deepika hogi toh gaana hona chahiye, kuch heavy duty drama hona chahiye ya phir koyi sexy scene hona chahiye. Aisa nahi hai hai uske saath.
Meanwhile you appear to have mellowed down and seem to be much more calm and at peace with yourself.
I am the same person as I was 10-15 years back. The thoughts are exactly the same. I remember someone comparing me to Amitabh Bachchan and that I was a bigger star but then I never said that. Some even said that 'Oh, he is a fluke! He will be out after just two hits.' See, what happens is that since you are a public figure, people do question or challenge you all the time. If I try and change that individually then I would be doing just that.