Earlier, this movie was tilted RING, and then it was decided to name it Jab Harry Met Sejal. How did you decide on the title?
Shah Rukh: The working title was RING with which Imtiaaz started the film and completed the script. After that somewhere along this Ranbir Kapoor suggested the title as When Harry Met Sejal because obviously it is a classic. So we considered it. Then Karan suggested making it Jab Harry Met Sejal instead of When Harry Met Sejal. So somewhere we thought about it and also we did look at alternates to wing along but whatever happens at the beginning happens. And now when we look at it, I think the movie really fits Jab Harry Met Sejal. And that’s how the film actually came to life and we are also very happy with it.
Q. Anushka, the movie starts with the part where you have lost your ring and you discover a lot on the way of finding it. What are the emotions that are to be evoked in people’s head?
Anushka: There is a transformation that I believe does happen when you meet somebody who is very different from you. And how this transformation creates a kind of conflict in the character. This is what forms the narrative of the film. It’s a fun film and at the same time frivolous. It has humour. It has a beautiful journey with good locations, with very interesting chemistry.
Shah Rukh: It is a very simple film which requests all to bring their heart along. Every relationship is very unique; it may happen like this; it may not happen like this. Every love story is not a sweeping flow of goodness and kindness and sacrifice. In reality a lot of things don’t happen, but of course there has to be an aspirational quality to it. So all that is there but in a very real way. But I still find it as a fairytale too, it could happen to you; it might not. As we went on this journey of making this film, we also discovered a lot of new things about the story itself, and I think that’s what makes the crust of Jab Harry Met Sejal.
Q. Anushka and Shah Rukh, you both have already worked together. How was it when the three of you teamed up? Imtiaaz, do you remember when you first met Shah Rukh and Anushka?
Imtiaaz: Yeah, I do remember. The one with Shah Rukh was very dramatic and funny and romantic. It was a narrow lane in a five-star hotel in London and the whole film industry was there. I was there trying to make my escape through the narrow lane. It was an aisle in the hotel. From other side Shah Rukh was coming along with his wife Gauri, but with him was a fan girl. The girl was making sounds of love and fondness she had for Shah Rukh. She was saying only one thing—“Shah Rukh!” She was completely over him and of course not in her senses. Everyone knew it was an embarrassing moment but he did not at any point gesture or made her look bad. He walked with her and then we crossed and he looked at me and we had a regular conversation, except that the girl was onto his right shoulder and then to his left shoulder. He was dealing with her with the effortlessness of a dancer, with her as a prop while having a very nice conversation with me. And that was the first of many conversations that I have had with the man.
Q. Shah Rukh, you have done romantic movies in the past. What according to you has changed in this genre over the years?
Shah Rukh: I think what happens is essentially when you are trying to create the same product, the love itself does not change, the feeling of love from the time of Laila-Majnu, Romeo-Juliet. You read them and find them as relevant today. I keep saying this because earlier, you stood on the balcony and sang a song, and now you can send a voice note. Only the platform has changed, but the romance remains the same. You still feel the same feeling. You still feel that giddiness, intoxication, the missing, the anger, the jealousy, and the ownership, all that happens. But now on social media or Snapchat etc. But I think the essential quality of love does not change. I don’t have a brand of romance I always try to piggy ride. It’s a very big responsibility when a director casts you in his film with his own will. What the director actually is giving you is the right to use his emotions, make them your own and say it out to crores of people and I don’t know those experiences and emotions. So when Imtiaaz tells me what to do, I have to respect it and go along with it. I have been very fortunate that a lot of directors have allowed me to use their emotions, to become a romantic hero that I have. But each person has a different experience including me. So there is no fix notion. Now Imtiaaz’s notion of man comes out in Harry and Sejal. I have just ridden along. The essential quality of what you feel in love, I think everybody will feel so. I think we can make you fall in love with the film.
Q. In the film Sejal is engaged. What are your views in real life about marriage, and what is your idea of a relationship?
Anushka: I keep things to myself like my idea of love and relationships, and I don’t find it interesting to talk about it publicly.
Q. You are playing a tour guide in the film. Have you ever been inspired by a tour guide?
Shah Rukh: No. But I think the essence of a tour guide that Imtiaaz has given is quite cool. It’s about the person who shows you the way, perhaps takes you to the destination where you want to go, but who is guiding him? I like this essence. He himself perhaps doesn’t know where he wants to go.
Q. Another thing that we are talking about is your great gesture of preponing the date of the film’s release. Do you think the days of box-office clashes should be numbered?
Shah Rukh: No, it’s not going to be avoidable every time. We are fortunate that there were two aspects to the film that I would like to say, and which made it possible. One, we asked when there was an available date, so we shifted. Ours is the longest running film or to be believed. It can take on a couple or three-weeks kind of run. So we are not missing the holiday that we were hoping to get it on. But fortunately we had the time to move it on a week and it’s not a great grand gesture. It can’t be possible every time.