Shah Rukh Khan talks about playing a differently-abled man in Aanand L Rai’s next

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Shah Rukh Khan, Aanand L Rai

The actor says that what the director and Sharma have written is a very difficult, but very interesting story

The big announcement has been made. And After Hrs was the first to tell you about Aanand Rai’s next. Katrina Kaif and Anushka Sharma have been signed opposite Shah Rukh Khan in the funny, sweet and challenging human drama that Rai is directing. SRK had spoken to us at length about the ambitious project. The actor explained that although everyone’s calling it just a ‘dwarf film’, the core of the film is much bigger than that…
‘It’s not disturbing that people think it’s not going to work’

Many might have apprehensions about the film since Shah Rukh is playing a midget. But all this doesn’t bother the actor at all. He explains, “Aanand has that touch to his films. He’s set a portion of the film in Meerut. His films are set in areas he knows best — that’s the area he comes from and is well-acquainted with. But to me, that’s not the consideration. The consideration is what he and Himaanshu has written is very difficult, but a very interesting story. So, some people are saying, ‘Oh, you are playing a dwarf, it’s not going to work.’ They say that about every film without knowing anything. It’s not disturbing that people think so, but the idea is that since we know what people think, we will pull off a lovely story.”
‘They look outstanding’

The film will have heavy VFX since SRK will be about three-feet-one-inch tall in the film. “I have a bad knee injury, so no, I cannot walk on my knees. We have to do it completely on VFX. Aanand also feels that works the best for the film. Otherwise, in today’s day and age, it will look extremely unreal. My VFX team has been working on it and I am sure we will be cracking it. You would like to have more feel to an actor and shoot it like a regular film and still be able to do it. So, we are trying to figure out and we are doing R&D already. Aanand has collected a lot of information about what we have to do. If need be, we will figure out how to do it abroad and then bring it here,” says the actor. He’s already started filming for the movie and the tests have turned out to be amazing. He says, “For me, the interesting part is to play this character. Of course, the visual effects and all come as an added bonus. Honestly, I think we will pull it off because we have done some tests and I think, they look outstanding.”
Heartland ho ya overseas!

Aanand’s films are always set in the heartland and that helps them have a wider reach. Does that work in the film’s favour, we ask. Pat comes the response from SRK, “It’s never been about wanting to do a heartland film or an overseas film. When I work with Karan Johar, people say that, ‘Oh he does these films because overseas it’s great’. No, I just do these films because Karan’s a good director and so is Aanand. Strangely enough, both of their films work in the heartland as well as overseas. It’s not like one is there and the other isn’t. So I’m sure Tanu Weds Manu Returns has done amazing business overseas and in India. Similarly, Karan’s films have done amazing business everywhere. To me, that’s not the interesting part ki yeh heartland ho jayega.”
Much more than just a dwarf film

Ever since the news of SRK and Aanand’s collaboration became public, there has been a lot of talk about it being a dwarf film. But SRK tells us there’s much more to the movie than just that. “I don’t know if I’m being politically correct, but sometimes a physical impairment or when you are differently-abled, there are a lot of personal issues that you face. This film will definitely be funny in places, it will have a love story and eventually it is a really sweet film because Aanand himself is very funny. But somewhere the film is more to do with the incompleteness that sometimes a person feels because of being physically-challenged. To me, that’s the core of the film.”
‘We should celebrate them, not sympathise or empathise with them’

SRK’s never had a physical impairment, but he understands what it can make you feel. He tells us, “I have never been there. I have always been a complete person. But I have injured myself so many times. I know how incapable it makes you feel then and you got to fight it. The struggle of differently-abled people is that they are fighting it all the time. But within that, do they also have love which will be more cherished than even what we feel? Can they have fun which is more cherishable than what normally gifted people feel? I think that’s the essence of the film — the incompleteness or so we think about physically challenged people and how it’s perhaps not so incomplete. It’s as good as it can get. That’s the main theme of the film.”

Shah Rukh says the main idea behind doing the film is to be ‘able to celebrate differently-abled people after this’. “We should know there is happiness abound in their lives. We don’t have to empathise or sympathise with them, we just need to celebrate them like completely abled people. We should never distinguish between them,” he affirms.
The timeline for the film

Although the film was slated to begin last year, SRK’s knee injury pushed this one ahead. Now, he’s started shooting for it. He reasons, “The film got pushed a bit because I wanted to finish Imtiaz’s film first, nicely. Aanand was okay with that. The shoot for Aanand’s film will go on for six-eight months. I think, after that, they will go for post-production for which they will need some time as they will work on the VFX.” The film releases next year on Christmas.
Not Bandhua

There were strong reports that the film has been titled Bandhua. But SRK rubbishes the news, “No, it’s not titled Bandhua. I had also read somewhere that this is the title. But no, it’s false. In fact, Bandhua is the title for another film that was narrated to me. (Smiles) Aanand’s film will have a different title.”

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