Filmmaker Aanand L. Rai, who has collaborated with Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan for the upcoming film Zero, says the superstar has an energy and enthusiasm of a newcomer despite a career of over 25 years in filmdom. “I am fascinated to see how a man with 25 years of a career, with so much success, fame, so many blockbusters, can still can have childlike energy. He did not burn out.

“He is the most obedient actor I have seen ever in my life. His energy on set is like a young boy doing his first film. I want to say that he is the best newcomer a director will get on the set… In fact, that is something I am trying to learn from him,” Rai told IANS in an interview.

Zero is a multi-starrer, which also features Anushka Sharma and Katrina Kaif. Shah Rukh plays a dwarf in the movie.

Rai said the strenuous shoot of the film was made smooth by the talented cast.

“Physically the shoot was very exhausting but the whole team had a great time working towards it because of the fact that I worked with a bunch of enthusiastic actors, and Khan saab is one of them.

“He surprises me to an extent that at times it scares me to think whether as a director I am able to match up to his level of talent. He is an extraordinary man, not just as an actor but also as a human,” said the director.

Were there any creative difference on set?

“Well, Khan saab always has a way to say things, and he never says ‘I don’t do a scene like this’. His approach is always suggestive. He would say, ‘Shall we do it like this?’ His attitude towards people is so nice,” Rai said.

As a filmmaker, Rai’s focus has always been on good stories and experimental subjects. His production “Shubh Mangal Saavdhan” on erectile dysfunction is a case in point.

With Zero, Rai is experimenting with the image of a superstar who is known for his romantic roles.

What made him take such a risk?

He said: “With experience, I have realised that audience is growing every year to accept more experimental cinema. There is a synergy between audience and filmmakers.

“As a film director, I cannot say there is no audience for a certain genre of story because a different group of audience is receptive towards a variety of stories. Now we have an audience to support a film like ‘Baahubali’ and a content-heavy film like ‘Newton’ in the same year.

“We have a ‘Shubh Mangal Saavdhan’ and a ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’ and both are appreciated by the audience. So I think the audience gives us the confidence to take the risk.”

The film Zero is slated to release on December 21.