SHAHRUKH KHAN’s speech at Yale: Most of the films I signed earlier were discards of better known actors


Whether I like it or not, my life has also been in constant play with what the world calls ‘success’.It is a wonderful thing, but it tends not to be the sort of experience that we learn from. We enjoy success; perhaps we even deserve it. But we don’t acquire wisdom from it. And maybe that’s why it cannot be passed on either. Me being successful does not mean my children will also be so, how much ever I teach them what I did in my life and even if they follow it to the letter.

So I feel that talking about how to become successful is a waste of time. Instead, let me tell you very honestly, whatever happened to me happened because I have always been terrified of failure. I don’t want as much to succeed as much as I don’t want to fail. I come from a very normal lower middle class family. I saw a lot of failure. My father was a beautiful man and the most successful failure in the world. My mother also failed to stay with me long enough for her to see me become a movie star. We were quite poor actually and, let me tell you, poverty is not an ennobling experience at all. Poverty entails fear and stress and sometimes depression. I watched my parents go through this several times.

At an early age, after my parents died, I equated poverty with failure. I just didn’t want to be poor. So when I got a chance to act in films, it wasn’t out of any creative desire that I did so; it was purely out of the fear of failure and poverty. Most of the films I signed were discards of better known actors and the producers could not find anyone else to do them. I did them all to make sure that I was working to avoid unemployment. The timing or something was right, and that made them happen. I became a big star, which means sometimes our success is not the direct result of our actions. Success just happens. Really! It is accidental and we take credit for it. I know I have done this even out of embarrassment sometimes.

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