Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan has always shown uncanny business acumen — owning an Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket franchise, setting up a production and visual effects company and owning 26 per cent stake in children’s edutainment theme park KidZania India. In an interview with Gaurav Laghate, Khan talks about what makes him invest in a business. Edited excerpts:
Many consider you a very shrewd businessman. How do you categorise your business interests?
I do not consider myself a businessman. I am an entertainer, and that’s about it. On business, my belief is if you are able to create a product that can touch the hearts of users, you are successful. Not that I don’t understand business… I have been an economics student and I know numbers. But I am not interested in those. I want to create products.
How does acquiring 26 per cent stake in KidZania India fit into your scheme of things?
It fits perfectly. First, you can touch and feel the product — an edutainment theme park, one of the fastest growing brands in this field. Second, it is for kids, who I love. I want to do something for them. Third, it is entertainment. To me, any business for kids would be the biggest business. I first saw KidZania in Dubai and my kids loved it. I thought why not have something like that in India?
The first KidZania India park in Mumbai would cost Rs 100 crore. There are plans to launch two more in the National Capital Region and Bangalore. How do you see the returns on the investment?
I don’t talk about numbers. I believe in the product and there is a whole team to take care of business. To me, KidZania is much more than just another business. If I want to make money, I can invest in other businesses with higher returns.
Brand SRK would help draw crowds.
Again, I do not think of myself as a big brand. I will definitely promote KidZania, but not because anyone has asked me to endorse it; I will promote it because I believe in it.
There is no brand ambassador deal. For KidZania, kids would be the pullers.
But don’t you look for returns on investment?
I invest in what I believe in. I invested in a superhero film (Ra.One) for my kids. I could have made any other film and earned more. I invested in the IPL. We struggled for four years. But this year, we won. So, it’s not just about making money.
How does the IPL fit into your business interests?
IPL is another mix of sports and entertainment. And, it touches consumers. Moreover, I like sports; I like to play. With Kolkata Knight Riders, we are also able to provide a stage to youngsters.
Any other business you would like to invest in?
As I said, it has to have a connect with users. As and when anything would come, I would be interested.