‘At NDTV Profit’s Business Leadership Awards, Shah Rukh Khan won the Creative Entrepreneur of the Year award. Here, he talks about which businessman is handsome enough to win a double-role as a movie star.
Sreenivasan Jain: I actually know a lot of things, which I don’t think a lot of people know that you are a first rate Economic Honours student from Delhi University’s Hansraj College. I used to live just across the road. Is that where you picked up your marketing skills?
Shah Rukh Khan: I started off being a science student, not exactly first rate but I did very well. I went on to Economics and did do very well. Then I did Mass Communications, aur ab dekhiye mera kya ho gaya, hindi film hero ban gaya. Main sab chod chad ke, no I actually believe, but first of all I just wanted to say that I am extremely extremely humbled by the presence of all these wonderful people who have made our country what it is, and I have taken all the cues from all the business aspects, so whatever little I can draw on experiences. I read and you know I kind of understand what Airtel is doing, what Bajaj is doing, what Reliance is doing, what Jet Airways, all wonderful companies here, and I try to bring it into films in my own small way. Believe you it costs a lot and it’s very expensive, and our product is not something that lasts long and goes on and on. Not like the Bajaj ka scooter jo zindagi bhar chalta rahega. It’s a bit of an issue trying to amalgamate the two, but I think the time has come where the accessibility to this kind of marketing for films is opening up, mainly because of all the business houses who are here. You know you can call up Rajan and say ‘Rajan I want to do something with my film with telephony and stuff’ and he will most certainly be good enough to allow you to. So I think the platforms have increased and that’s how I tried to market my newer films.
Sreenivasan Jain: Shah Rukh you’re being as modest as always. You said in your own small way, I was going through the things you did for Ra One. You had 25 toys; you did ads for each of those toys; you launched 50 products; you had a Ra One video game; you had your own special youtube page; I mean I could go on.
Shah Rukh Khan: I think it’s very, very important in entertainment to get into merchandising, to get into gaming and be on the net. I think its very, very important, we cannot negate that any more, whatever the level of film you are making. It’s very important because a film like Ra One lends itself a little more, it’s for children, its a super hero and stuff. I wish I had made it a little better, because people started jumping on my back, itna market kiya aur aisa picture banaya tumne , so I got a little waylaid on that. I think you really need to take films and think of it as a product and put it across, and inform everyone what this product is, because it is very expensive now to go and buy the ticket. You know it’s 500 to 700 rupees and you need to tell the customer this is what it is going to be. The more the channels you can inform on, I think more you are right about your product.’
‘Sreenivasan Jain: What everyone wants to know is how much money do film stars make? There is no one listening, just two of us
Shah Rukh Khan: Sure no body is listening, nobody will know after this, and I will never be beamed at. I make lot of money, but I would leave being an actor just for the salary part and be employed by any of the companies, and I am sure I will get more monthly salary than what I make now.
Sreenivasan Jain: Any offers from anyone on the floor?
Shah Rukh Khan: Ya please take me as one of the employees for marketing in your companies. But I don’t take money for my films. To be really honest, even to the other producers and myself, I tell them put it into the film, because I truly believe the technology and you know the way Indian films look. And I am very proud to say that even though it’s my film, Don 2, it’s very important to go to the next level in terms of technology, otherwise we will lose. As a matter of fact being ahead of myself here, but I would like to say, crossover films, the danger is not that we are going to cross over or not, the danger is whether we are going to lose the Indian audience for the Indian films. We are the only country in the world which still has regional audiences, so to say. Otherwise Hollywood has taken over everywhere, and the only way we can make sure that we continue to have youngsters like our films, is increasing our technology. Otherwise ten years from now there will be no Hindi films and I say that with utmost sadness. I really feel that if we don’t push it a little more in terms of marketing technology we will not have Hindi films
Sreenivasan Jain: I think Prannoy wants to get in
Prannoy Roy: I know you are a complete tech maniac because in every film you push the envelope, get yourself involved with technology and you share it with us and say, look at that bit, look at that bit, in every gory detail. I think for the Finance Minister and me, what makes you our favourite is Kolkata Knight Riders, well done, well done.
Shah Rukh Khan: And I know you are not biased at all.
Prannoy Roy: But I want to know, do you do business, not acting, from your head or your heart?
Shah Rukh Khan: Completely from my heart, though in the last five days I have had so many losses in my company, that I have decided now that I am going do it from my head. Yes, just yesterday I hired and fired people; I am using words like restructuring and 360 degrees management and power lunches, I really did. Yesterday I sat down; I had all that and also tied it up with the socio-economic development of the country and where it is headed. Just because Pranab da is here so I should mention that, but now I am using the head but the heart is bleeding too much. I need to do some number crunching, I need to see some targets and the targets meet what I am doing. But cricket was from the heart. But it is making money and that’s the only project of mine that is making money, and we are not winning, so I need to win and make money.
Sreenivasan Jain: Shah Rukh any tip for corporate India
Shah Rukh Khan: No nothing. Just keep giving us all the advertising platforms, then we will tell you that it’s great to be tied up with films, specially Shah Rukh Khan films. And I am here and I will, I always say this, whatever category of endorsements is left, please do call upon me. I live next door and I am giving a discount because it’s New Year and Valentines coming up. But genuinely, with all honesty, I know lots of people here; lots of them are my friends. I get this opportunity to sit with them in a very informal way about business and work, but genuinely, with all the issues we are having or coming or will come, I think all of you here are most wonderful, who made our country immensely proud. I get to learn so much. There is so much intelligence in this one gathering here. Thank you very much for thinking so far ahead for the country.
Prannoy Roy: Aren’t they some of them good looking also? Would you offer a role to any of these Industrialists in your next film?
Shah Rukh Khan: See I have been humble enough, don’t push it. See I talked about their business acumen, I said they made the country proud. Now the buck stops here, as you would say on your show. Man, I mean you can have the money, the corporate acumen or the looks. So here is the heart, there is the head, here are the looks, there is the money. But honestly, some of you are extremely beautiful and handsome people.
Sreenivasan Jain: They are all looking a little disappointed with your answer.
Shah Rukh Khan: No absolutely, I am just joking. Your suits are well cut, your hair nicely combed, you look very manicured, pedicured and very handsome, absolutely.
Sreenivasan Jain: Does any one want to ask a question? Mr Bajaj, would you like to ask Shah Rukh a question, Rahul Bajaj?
Rahul Bajaj : No question, just a comment, that if most of us could be as successful in our head and heart as Shah Rukh is, then I think the answers to many questions would be there and we would be doing much better.
Sreenivasan Jain: On that note thanks very much Shah Rukh, congratulations again, thanks so much that you could be here for us.
Shah Rukh Khan: I am throwing the dance free, guys, please sign me.’Interviews Ra.One Shah Rukh Khan