I don’t like attending press conferences by Shah Rukh Khan. You are likely to find yourself packed in a room with some 500 photographers, reporters and guests all clamouring for a dekko at the King Khan.
Now the Ballroom at Delhi’s Oberoi hotel is pretty big but I still felt a bit claustrophobic when Khan dropped in earlier this week to promote a liquor brand’s ‘Don’t Drink and Drive campaign’.
And the pretty reporter behind me wasn’t helping matters by squealing “He’s so sexy, I so want to take him home” whenever Khan smiled.
Clad all in black, the star had arrived on time (surprisingly) and was bombarded with questions on everything except the brand he had come there to promote.
One enthusiastic reporter was upset that actress Deepika Padukone had been denied the chance to be the first to touch Shah Rukh’s six-pack abs for “Om Shanti Om”.
Well, “feel your body” was how he put it, perhaps incorrectly quoting what Deepika had told BBC Radio in an interview.
Khan was nonplussed – at first.
“She should have told me. She never told me. If she tells BBC, she can touch BBC’s body. If she tells me, she can touch my body.”
Perhaps the inquirer still looked upset, for Khan looked him in the eye and asked, “You want to touch my body?”
When the laughter had died down and the reporter had stopped blushing, the barrage of questions continued. But Khan parried them with practised ease.
Why did you spend so much money on cricket’s Indian Premier League?
“Maine jaha se kamaya mera tha, maine jaha lagaya meri marzi” (I earned it and it was mine to spend wherever I pleased)
There’s already so much money in cricket..
“Aap ne gina hai?” (Have you counted it?)
Why you bought Kolkata team instead of Delhi where you grew up?
“I couldn’t afford Delhi. That’s why I left and went to Bombay. Delhi’s very expensive.”
Will you make a film based on the ‘Don’t Drink and Drive campaign’?
“Making a film on this topic? How will I make a three hour film in which I keep saying ‘Don’t drink! Don’t drink! Don’t drink!’ – it will be weird…’Devdas’ was based on drinking.”
Is this campaign some kind of disaster management for your “no smoking” tiff with Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss?
“It’ll be really stupid of me if someone doesn’t like me smoking to give him the message ‘Don’t drink’. I should be saying ‘Don’t smoke’.”
Will your reel image prove a burden on your real life?
“It’s not that when I walk on the streets, people think of me as drunk, smoker, vulgar, idiotic. In fact, when I come to Delhi, people say I am smart, handsome, educated, articulate and well-bred.”
In “Chak de” and “Om Shanti Om”, you had new girls working opposite you. Even in Aditya Chopra’s project, he’s searching for a new face – why don’t our heroines want to work with you?
“Girls can’t tolerate me for long. They get tired.”
It’s not that Khan wasn’t serious at all – he also spoke at length about his “smoking” controversy, his injury years ago that forced him to give up sports for acting, his plans for building sports infrastructure in the country. But all that has been splashed across national newspapers.
But it’s the little things that fans don’t get to read or hear. Like how he scolded a reporter he spotted discussing something with a friend.
“Are you listening? You are chatting away there. Pay attention to me. Then you won’t get confused.”
Believe me, that poor girl was the only one not paying attention – the rest of the audience was hanging on to each of Khan’s words. And for those of you who aren’t convinced about the Bollywood star being the best ambassador for a ‘Don’t Drink and Drive campaign’, here’s what Khan has to say.
“I myself am not a hard liquor drinker. The hardest I drink is Pepsi on the rocks.”