Heart-throb for life

In Chennai Express, Shah Rukh Khan plays the lover of Deepika Padukone, who is 27.

Reports that Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan, two of Bollywood's biggest names, will make a movie together are greatly exaggerated, says the former.

After the two were photographed hugging each other at a party last month following a five-year feud, all signs pointed to the pair finally moving on from the spat that caused their fall-out in 2008. Reportedly, Khan had made inappropriate comments about Salman's former flame, actress Aishwarya Rai Bachchan.

But in a telephone interview with Life! recently, Khan vehemently declined to comment on the issue, saying that these are "personal relationships" that he will never speak about.

"My personal relationships and friendships that I've formed - these are things that I've never ever spoken about publicly and talked about. Whether I have a relationship problem or happiness, I don't talk about it and I keep it like that," says Khan, 47.

"There are certain things that you give dignity by not talking about it, and relationships are one of them. The amazing thing with this is that the world has already jumped the gun and is saying that we're going to be doing movies together."

He was fielding media queries to promote his latest movie Chennai Express, an action-comedy that opens here today. He also produced the movie, under his production company Red Chillies Entertainment.

Khan, who is married to film producer and interior designer Gauri Khan, also made headlines recently for the controversy surrounding the birth of their third child, which they had through a surrogate.

There was talk that the couple knew they were going to have a son because they had a pre-natal gender test, which is illegal in India. Khan, whose elder son is 16 and daughter is 13, has since openly denied such reports.

"I let people analyse and figure it out, and let the tabloids have a field day on the connotations about what is to be and what is not," he says.

In Chennai Express, directed by Rohit Shetty, he plays a North Indian man who meets and falls in love with Meena (Deepika Padukone), the daughter of a crime boss in South India. It is a professional reunion for the two leads, who had starred in the hit 2007 romantic movie Om Shanti Om.

As soon as Padukone's name is mentioned, Khan lavishes praise on her: "Deepika is really beautiful and talented and all that a movie star should be. You know, there is a special quality to her and we're just very comfortable with each other. We had always talked about the chance to work on something else again since our last one, but we were always waiting for good characters to come along.

"When I came across this script, I called her up and said, hey, this is really sweet and something different. So it's just very nice that we got to work together again."

He was also happy to be doing a comedy again, after a string of serious roles over the past few years in the films Jab Tak Hai Jaan (As Long As I Live, 2012), Don 2: The Chase Continues (2012), Ra. One (2011) and My Name Is Khan (2010).

"With every role that you do, you take away some of that film with you. Some of my recent roles like in Ra. One were physically challenging and I was injured.

"So I was in the state of mind where I really wanted to do a family entertainment movie, something fun and over-the-top. And with a director like Rohit Shetty, you know that's what you'll get."

According to him, the 40-year-old director, who has made such hit films as Golmaal: Fun Unlimited (2006) and Bol Bachchan (2012), is "known for films that are very big-looking and all-out entertaining, and packed with a lot of action and comedy".

He adds: "He's also a good guy and I think this is the first film I've worked on where the girls on set find the director more attractive than me."

If that sounds like Khan is suffering a mid-life crisis of confidence, rest assured he is not. He thinks he still has the makings of a heart-throb, even at his age. That is why he says there is no problem making his onscreen romances with young actresses such as Padukone, who is 27, convincing.

"If you were to ask me how long I think I can be a heart-throb, I'd say for the rest of my life. I hope I can still go to my daughter's parties and be considered a heart-throb by her friends. I still feel young."

 

yipwy@sph.com.sg

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