SRK gives a full blown interview to Rajdeep Sardesai after the brouhaha over the issue of him being detained by US immigration authorities.
Rajdeep Sardesai:Critics say that the entire detention in America has been hyped by Shah Rukh himself as some kind of publicity for your film My Name is Khan. It’s part of SRK’s attempt to remain in the news. How do you react?
Shah Rukh Khan: As a matter of fact, I am averse to being in front of news when I am not really doing it for my film. My film is coming much later. It’s eight-nine months away. Normally you don’t start publicity of a film that early. Second, it’s not very positive to be questioned, to have someone asking someone to be vouching for you in someone’s wonderful country. I think it’s a little disrespectful. I wouldn’t use that as a part of publicising myself, neither I am that kind of a person. So may be those who say this believe in designed things like that.
Rajdeep Sardesai: But you know, people are detained and questioned at American airports, post 9/11 it’s a regular practice. Why suddenly should Shah Rukh Khan take it as a personal affront? Was it ‘how can you detain me, Shah Rukh Khan’?
Shah Rukh Khan: No, no. I don’t think so. I am very humble about who I am. I speak in third person when I am talking about my acting. That’s how I am.
Rajdeep Sardesai: What was it that made SRK – who has also been subjected to checks and questioning – suddenly this time believe that this was way too much. What went out of line, where did you snap?
Shah Rukh Khan: No I did not snap at all. I didn’t even know it had taken this kind of a momentum. I called a friend who’s perhaps related to the media. And obviously when you call family, they go, ‘what happened?’. I went for my work, came back at 2 am, had calls from all channels – yours being the first one – and I remember I felt funny about the interview. I hadn’t taken it as a personal affront.
Rajdeep Sardesai: You did not take it as a major issue?
Shah Rukh Khan: No I did not.
Rajdeep Sardesai: Come on, Shah Rukh be honest. You were angry, you were upset.
Shah Rukh Khan: No I wasn’t angry. I was disturbed with the kind of questions they were asking.
Rajdeep Sardesai: What were the questions they were asking you?
Shah Rukh Khan: They were asking me for someone to vouch for my entry into America, if I knew Americans, I had to give their telephone numbers and also of my business associates. I was hoping they don’t call because it was a little embarrassing. The things they were supposed to check they did not. There were 20 people including an immigration officer who said very loudly that ‘Hey, I vouch for you, Shah Rukh Khan’, pointing a finger at me. I was like, ‘it’s a little embarassing’.
Rajdeep Sardesai: So there were people who knew who you were and yet kept questioning. You weren’t somewhere where you felt you were being questioned because of your surname. That had you been, for example, a Hindu name, you wouldn’t have been questioned. Was it that factor? Somewhere was there a feeling that ‘I am being looked at suspiciously because I am a Muslim’.
Shah Rukh Khan: I am and I have accepted that for the past few years. And that’s okay. I am absolutely allright by that. I have no issues because I am very pragmatic.
Rajdeep Sardesai: It’s a strange situation where for a couple of days this was the biggest story. Now you’re saying it’s anon-issue. You’re almost saying, ‘it’s not troubled me at all’.
Shah Rukh Khan: I feel disrespected because I never made this story. I just called a few people for things that should be taken care of by the Indian consulate.
Rajdeep Sardesai: At no stage did you want this to become a story?
Shah Rukh Khan: I have no issue about it. I did not want to talk about it. Suddenly I got a call from who I know…who said we got very nervous. I said no it wasn’t that big a deal.
Rajdeep Sardesai: You say it’s not a big issue but you are still making a big deal out of it somewhere. Wherever you went to America, you did mention.
Shah Rukh Khan: I spoke to you guys first because I did not want any misunderstanding that I had gotten arrested or whatever. Even in the first interview I insisted they were polite.
Rajdeep Sardesai: What have you told your children about it?
Shah Rukh Khan: My son was excited that I was caught and was disappointed to learn I wasn’t. My daughter was very happy that I also get detention. I explained to them that we have a name which will ensure we are checked extra and it’s okay since it’s a rule.