Commercial or critical acclaim – which do you prefer?
[After a long pause] I like the smiles of the people who watch my films. The commerce I don’t understand. Seriously, I don’t care about critical or commercial acclaim.
Films are an art form. Do you think a painter when he draws the first line on a canvas thinks how much it is going to sell for? If you were to write a book, would you spend time worrying about what critics are going to say? Would you worry how much each line is going to earn you? No, you write it because it is an outpouring of what you feel. Filmmaking is like that. I respect critics but their critical evaluations don’t matter to me. Similarly, I respect businessmen. They can keep discussing how much I make. Incidentally, I was recently declared to be one of the richest people in the world. But that doesn’t take away frommy creativity.
As for criticism, it doesn’t worry me when I am told that my performance is not so fantastic.
Recently some critics said, “Why is Shah Rukh acting like this in Chennai Express?” And I tell them, “Do you know why I am acting like this? Because I feel like acting like this. Go figure that out.” And if you can’t figure that out, well that’s your problem. I act because it is the way I feel. It is an outpouring of my emotions for that particular scene or at that time. If you have issues with it, well, you need to live with it. For me, the bottom line is how many people am I able to make smile? Can I measure that by the number of dollars I earn? Can I measure it by two people who have an intellectual take on my ability to make people smile?
To me, neither commercial nor critical acclaim is important. I have been working for 22 years, 18 hours a day. What I do very few people can do. I know my craft, I know my art. I know my place in the scheme of things and I know the job that I am made to do.
I always tell people that I’ve never worked for anybody but for the public who love me. And when during such a gathering a complete stranger stands up and says you know you have inspired me to scale greater heights, or that they love me, that is the greatest moment in my life. This is what I work for – for the kind words from the young girls, the mothers, the young men. And when you have the strength and backing of people like this, anybody can say negative things or criticise your work, it doesn’t affect you. Because the people who I work for – these young men and women – they have accepted me. They are like my family to me.
Decades ago when I came into the industry, I was an orphan as my parents had passed away. But in the past 22 years I have a family of more than two billion people. It’s the love of these people that drives me. That’s all that matters.