If there's one Bollywood actor who can sell salt from the ocean, then it has to be Shah Rukh Khan. Consider this: last year around the same time, SRK swooped down to Dubai with his slick ponytail, six-pack abs and in less than an hour, peddled the release of the hit Om Shanti Om, which also made a sculpted body seem like the most natural progression for a 40-something actor.

Cut to 2008, the smooth-talking romantic hero has a different strategy up his sleeve. Khan's long hair has been chopped. The retro ruffled white shirt, unbuttoned at the chest had been replaced by a conservative black suit housing a suave lean, but not mean, businessman.

At the InterContinental Hotel in Dubai on Sunday, the Bollywood icon was hawking the idea of his Dh8 billion beachfront property on Dana Island in Ras Al Khaimah as a perfect petri dish for familial heaven.

He alternated between hard-sell marketing tactics to promising: "I come free with it [the apartment]. Every Saturday morning you will find me buck naked." No one was in doubt that Khan was at his articulate best.

Architectural marvel

"Shah Rukh Khan Boulevard promises to be as colourful, vibrant, romantic yet realistic as my hit movies," encapsulated his thoughts on his impending architectural marvel.

The actor, who is the brand ambassador for more than 30 products, has joined hands with property developers TSA Group to launch a project built over three million square feet.

In this case, he is not merely endorsing the brand but also owns the project that will be completed by 2012 and is creatively involved in the building process.

But if you thought he would step down from the ultimate family-man pedestal at the close of the press conference, think again. When tabloid! managed to snatch a few minutes alone with the actor-turned-real estate developer, Khan said he was in a phase in his life where family came first.

"I have been trying all sorts of new things this year. But spending time with my children so that they turn into good citizens is what I would call one of the important creative involvements of the year.

Right now, I have reached a phase where I enjoy being a father the most and if I had a day off, I would rather spend it with my kids than work," says Khan, who has not seen a single movie release since November 2007.

Hardly cutting the picture of a ruthless businessman, Bollywood's most bankable star is also in the process of creating a superhero film to appease his son Aryan's appetite.


"It was long coming. I will be playing the role of a superhero, a modern one, for the first time, in a film laden with state-of-the-art special effects. It's tentatively titled Ra.One and we are now working on the script and my look," says Khan.

Taking drags of his cigarette, he says he was willing to go to any lengths to accommodate his two children's whims. It's no secret that his son idolises superheroes and considers Bollywood's first Superman-styled superhero Hrithik Roshan as his favourite.

"I have also begun watching sci-fi movies with my kids and their friends to gauge their reaction on what works and what doesn't. I want everything to go right. It's also the first time that I will ever be involved in the scripting process. Usually, my role begins once the script is complete," explains the actor.

Hailing his life as too good to be true, Khan says that at this moment the going was good and that nothing could dampen his enthusiasm, including the prospect of turning 43 next month.

"Gauri [his wife] thinks I look better with age and at the risk of sounding self-obsessed, I share her feeling. So, turning a year older does not mean that I will be gripped by mid-life crisis or anything. I don't feel old either," says Shah Rukh.

True to his word, he will soon be romancing a nubile debutante Anushka Sharma, 19, in his December release Rab Ne Bana De Jodi, with effortless ease. Last year, he had ignited the screens by wooing another debutante Deepika Padukone in the reincarnation drama Om Shanti Om.

"It's not that I have a fetish for romancing young, nubile debutantes. I don't mind romancing old yet nubile, sexy ones too. But, jokes apart, I feel sometimes a newcomer often fits a role better than an established star and make the story more believable.

For instance, Kareena Kapoor, although a great actress, would not have necessarily worked as the character Shanti [Deepika Padukone's role in Om Shanti Om]," says Khan.

He is also on his way to demystify the concept of yuppie larger-than-life Bollywood heroes. In his next release Rab Ne Bana De Jodi, he will be seen playing the role of an ordinary man instead of straddling a Harley Davidson and chasing girls in Swiss locales.

"The character is a lot like me and the movie is a celebration of the ordinary. Right now, I am at a stage where I feel there's something extraordinary about being ordinary."

Reflection of SRK's charisma

Developer Tony Ashai, who is on board to recreate the high-quality beachfront lifestyle destination, is on a roll. After a series of late-night calls and brainstorming sessions with the actor, Ashai feels that Shah Rukh Boulevard would be a true reflection of Khan's charismatic personality and his high-on-life attitude.

Underground glass tunnels leading up to underground glass discotheques, sit-in theatres by the beach, a public square and high-end stores dotting the lifestyle space is just the beginning.

The TSA-Khan venture off Ras Al Khaimah coast, whose cost is yet to be finalised, would also house world-class hotels and commercial complexes.

‘Aamir deserves an oscar'

"I am very happy for Aamir and personally, I don't think there is any person more deserving," says Khan, when asked if his frenemy Aamir Khan's Taare Zameen Par was a good choice for India's official entry to Oscars.

Surprisingly, Khan is yet to watch the movie since they had decided that they would watch it together and critique it from the point of view of an actor-turned-director.

"He was particular that we watch it together. You see, we both are different in terms of the way we work. If I am more impulsive, he is a person who gives attention to detail and we both are curious about how we go about it. But hopefully, we will now see the movie after it wins the Oscars. Inshallah," says Khan.

A year in SRK's life.

Out of the 360 plus days, 200 days go for film shooting. "I have made a conscious decision to act in only two movies a year. I would ideally devote 100 days to each film," says Khan.
70 days are dedicated to the planning, marketing the movies and business ventures. The rest of the year it's family time.