A good interview is essentially a battle of two minds — you lose the battle if the subject dictates you, but you win it when it’s you who calls the shots during an interview. Arnab Goswami, often referred to as the most watched television journalist in the country, is a master interviewer. He decides the course of the interview, and not the person, he is interviewing. But if you look around, you will see that 90 per cent journalists will only ask their subject those questions that the subject is too willing to be asked. There are only a few Bollywood journalists who actually ‘interview’ their subjects.
And here’s how you should interview the Khans.
Shah Rukh Khan
The biggest advantage of interviewing Shah Rukh Khan is that there is a fat chance of him underestimating you; he will take off on his own philosophical tangent after a while. That is your biggest advantage.
Shah Rukh likes to take charge of the interview, right from the first question. Don’t resist that. Make ‘a lost puppy face’ in front of Shah Rukh Khan, and guide him through the interview without showing an ounce of aggression. If you do that well, then chances are that Shah Rukh will play in your hands even before he realises it. He talks a lot during one-on-one interactions and usually doesn’t allow too much of space for the interviewer to butt in. So, it is very important that you start the interview with a very ‘general’ question, but it’s also crucial that you start asking the most important questions soon after. And that should preferably be the third question put to him.
Don’t always wait for him to come out of the ‘philosophical’ mode he is in, or else you might run out of the time allotted to you. Butt in with your specific questions very meekly. In most cases, it works — you get answers to the questions you are looking for.
Salman Khan is the most difficult and yet the easiest subject as well. The trick is to catch him in the right mood. Now, there is a 60 per cent chance that he will not be in the right mood to answer the difficult questions on your list. So, what do you do then? My tip: You should change the questions and re-arrange them according to his mood. If Salman is in a very bright mood, then slip in the difficult right at number two or even start with one. But if he appears fidgety and snappy, then start with very regular, run-of-the-mill questions that doesn’t require any amount of brainwave. Chances are that Salman will get into a comfortable zone while answering those questions, and then slip in those difficult questions.
However, there is another mood of the actor that one has to tackle — his tendency to get sarcastic and crack jokes at every questions posed to him. It’s a big challenge when he gets in that mood. At that juncture, slip in a serious question like women empowerment, RTI and he will instantly snap out of it. However, while interviewing Salman Khan, there’s not much a journalist can do to get the right answers. It depends on Salman himself.
Aamir Khan is the most interesting Bollywood actor to interview. During one-on-one interviews, he will never evade a question and will always answer you. But dealing with him is like dealing with a computer programme — if you don’t ask the right questions, you will never get the right answers. So, homework is very important. Your questions should be well-researched and to-the-point. You don’t have to try and put him in a comfortable zone and expect him to open up to you. He will remain alert throughout the interview, acutely conscious of the camera or the voice-recorder.
If you ask him specific questions which are well researched, then Aamir will always give an honest answer. Aamir won’t frequently go into lofty philosophies like Shah Rukh or snappy, sarcastic answers like Salman. He takes all his questions with utmost seriousness.
Aamir has done his homework, so you will be able score better if your homework is better than him. Interviewing Aamir Khan is a true interview, according to me, because he is the only Bollywood star who takes every journalist seriously.