New Delhi: With a cigarette perched precariously between his index and middle finger, a younger, much younger Shah Rukh Khan says with a proud tilt of his head "I am proud to be a television actor."
A video interview he gave possibly in the mid 90s offers a rare glimpse into the restless man hungry for good work who has perhaps been overshadowed by the superstar over the years.
In excerpts from the interview that we transcribed, a fidgeting Khan said he is proud that he works very hard and isn't apologetic of the fact that he entered Hindi cinema from television.
"It makes no difference to me whether I am acting in front of a camera, on television or on the streets. I love acting. Like right now I am facing a video camera, I'm not going to change my style of speaking. I don't think 'Video camera hai toh acting alag hogi," he said.
"I am very proud I work very hard. There are many who work with me in TV, they don't even have free dates. If stardom is measured in value of payment and the value of stars - television stars are much bigger than cinema stars. Today I don't think anybody derogates a serial. Television is as respectable as films and I am proud to be a television actor," Khan said.
In the 90s he thought "TV makes you more popular". "I'm not a lesser actor because I'm from TV," said the star who made his debut with the hugely popular TV show Fauji.
He is seen fidgeting in the interview, his hair unkempt. But the earnestness of his eyes betrayed his hunger for better roles, for more work and his dreams the size of a planet.
"I haven't reached my pinnacle. To me, my standard of success is quite big. Abhi koi makam nahi hai. Abhi toh reputation pe chal raha hu", he said during an interview which was taken sometime before the release of his film Ram Jaane. He speaks of preparing for Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, a role that catapulted him to stardom and established him as the romantic icon of cinema.
As he turned 47 on November 2, 2012, this is the Khan his fans remember well. This is the Khan they want to see.