The Khans. Decoded.

Shah Rukh media frenzy

A typical media gathering at Shah Rukh Khan’s bungalow for a press conference.

It’s not easy interviewing some actors – they are either defensive, or aggressive. And then, there some, who are hard to decipher.

Mind it, I am not saying that they are difficult but yes, they definitely hard to read.

Most Bollywood actors show a certain trait when they are being interviewed. Any Bollywood journalist will tell you that most stars have a set behaviour pattern in the face of difficult questions.

Seasoned journalists will tell you that there are ‘ways’ to interview a star. Picking up the right ‘method’ to get the best answers from a Bollywood star is perhaps the best homework that a Bollywood journalist can do.

In this new series, I will give you a peek into a few trade-secrets for rookies who aspire to interview the top Bollywood stars – the Khans.

In the first part, we will talk about how the top three Khans handle interviewers and in the second part, I will tell you about their soft-points.

Before telling you about the so-called chinks in their armour, here’s the battle strategy they employ while handling Bollywood journalists:

Shah Rukh Khan

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Shah Rukh Khan looks on as he visits the set of the Hindi reality show Indian Idol Junior in Mumbai on July 28, 2013. Photo by: STRDEL/AFP/Getty Images

More often than not Shah Rukh Khan will completely ‘read’ you inside out when you are sitting in front of him for an interview. He has done so many interviews in his life that most have become a cakewalk for him. Shah Rukh is the only actor in Bollywood who can regulate his spontaneous reactions. Sounds dichotomous? Well, here it is. If you ask Shah Rukh a very difficult question, he will answer immediately. Within half a second. That will be so quick that it will seem spontaneous. You will feel that he is answering your question very spontaneously. He is not. He knows exactly what he is speaking and is not doing so extempore. He will give his own answers no matter what your questions are. Shah Rukh Khan will deviate from the exact question and will go on his own trip without you realizing it. He has this rare ability to think very fast. Faster than all journalists I have seen so far, including myself. Also, like his screen presence, he will completely overshadow you during the interview, which means the interview has every possibility of it turning into a long-winded Shah Rukh soliloquy with you just interrupting in between with your questions. When you are transcribing the interview, you will realise that ‘Arrey, mera question ka jawaab kahan diya?’ This is Shah Rukh Khan’s gift – he can waylay an ongoing interview with his wit, humour and quick thinking. He will display the right amount of aggression in the face of a negative question and the right amount of charm in front of women journalists, who generally get bowled over by it. At the end of it, it’s Shah Rukh Khan who will conduct the interview his way. A journalist will always return with Shah Rukh Khan’s ‘answers’, not what he or she asked for. You get the drift right?

Salman Khan

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Salman Khan attends a promotional event for the Hindi film ‘Jai Ho’ in Mumbai on January 23, 2014. Photo: STRDEL/AFP/Getty Images.

Salman Khan is just the opposite of Shah Rukh Khan. He is spontaneous, if he wants to be. He will give the answers that you are looking for. A Salman in the right mood will also turn your interview into a dream interview because you can expect him to overstep the brief. He will volunteer a lot more information than what he is supposed to, if he is in the mood. When Salman utters something, you can be sure he’s done so aware of the consequence and will stand by it. He is not afraid of anybody. This kind of fearlessness and devil-may-care attitude makes him a dream subject. But a Salman in a bad mood is just the opposite. And then you can go bang your head to the wall, but Salman Khan will answer your questions with monosyllabic replies, and is quite capable getting up mid-way to signal the interview is over. In my opinion, it is Salman who is a spontaneous interviewee, and not Shah Rukh Khan. He will always answer your questions, and not answer the ones he doesn’t want to. But he’ll never change the topic midway or take the conversation on a different tangent. But as I have told you earlier, there are two Salman Khans — one in the mood and one, not in the mood. Either way, both are not inclined to thinking before they speak. What you see… rather hear, is what you get.

Aamir Khan

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Aamir Khan attends a news conference to announce the release of the first trailer of his new film ‘Dhoom 3’ in Mumbai on October 30, 2013. Photo: PUNIT PARANJPE/AFP/Getty Images

Aamir Khan is the most difficult subject to talk to. I have never seen any journalist make him say something that he doesn’t want to say. Aamir is deliberate with his responses, spontaneity is out of the question. He is an antithesis of his good friend, Salman Khan. He will listen to your question, pause for a second and then word his answer. Over time, Aamir has learnt to camouflage the technique and answer faster than what he used to, nevertheless they are all measured replies. In most cases, I have seen Aamir do a little bit of homework before facing a journalist or arriving at a press conference. I have never heard of Aamir coming to a press conference without any kind of preparation, something that cannot be expected from a Shah Rukh or a Salman, ever. Aamir is the most difficult among Khans to interview because he is always better prepared than you. The worst: Aamir is careful with his words and you can forget an off-the-cuff remark from him that actually makes a Salman interview such a delight for journalists.

…to be continued

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