Playing to the crowds in his quintessential Bollywood style, Shah Rukh Khan proved once again why he continues to be the biggest actor in India as he charmed and cheered his way at the World Government Summit in Dubai.

Reflecting on his illustrious career that has spanned 33 years, on television and the big screen, Khan shared that he was still raring to go for another 35 years, despite a spate of flops that dogged his career in the last decade, which forced him to go on a four-year sabbatical in 2018 to introspect.

“In the work that I do, making films that is, the results come suddenly. And you think you’ve made the best of films and the world is going to love it but you wake up on that Friday morning and realise you have given the biggest flop of you career,” Khan said.

Irrespective of what the box office collects on Friday, Khan said, you have to return to work the next week and continue making good films.

Khan, who has given some of the biggest Bollywood films to date with hits such as ‘Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge’, ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’, and ‘My Name is Khan’, said he never wanted to be bracketed as a “peddler of love”.

“I wanted to be an action guy, with eight-packs, beating up people, with a girl by my side and a Glock in my hand,” Khan laughed. “But suddenly, early on in my career, I was looked upon as someone promising hope and that image has carried through.”

Speaking about the time he decided to step back from the limelight in 2018, following the failure of his film ‘Zero’, where he played a vertically challenged man, Khan spoke about his unplanned hiatus from acting and why he needed to take that break.

“I went through a phase when I gave massive flops and my films did very badly. I was doing everything from licking my wounds to reflecting. After a while, I simply sat back and decided to learn how to make the best pizza in the world,” Khan said. “It was a difficult time, but my family supported me through this phase.”

Speaking about his failures, Khan continued: “All I wanted to do was tell stories, but I became too innovative. I needed to be unique, but I also needed to listen to my audience and what they wanted. I stopped hearing the crowds.”

Deciding to come back with the kind of films his fans demanded of him, Khan returned in 2023 with two of the biggest hits of his career, ‘Jawan’ and ‘Pathaan’, both films going on to break records in Bollywood.

With Khan returning to peak performance in Bollywood, one wondered why Hollywood didn’t reflect in his extensive filmography. His answer came as a surprise to many.

“Nobody has ever offered any work of substance for me to do a crossover,” said Khan. “I’ve had conversations with people from the West, but nobody has ever offered me any good work. And instead of spreading myself too thin, I would rather take a job where I am doing good work.”

(Reporting by Bindu Rai, editing by Daniel Luiz)