Bollywood Interview

Shah Rukh Khan: I used to copy Kumar Gaurav

By Shama Bhagat

Shah Rukh Khan didn’t arrive in Mumbai in a plane but a train. Back then, a little over 30 years back, express trains passing through Mumbai allowed people to sit inside the second class compartments.

Shah Rukh, an upstart, lanky Delhi boy, didn’t know this. And this was the reason why a lady rebuked Shah Rukh Khan in public. This was the welcome Shah Rukh Khan received as he set foot in Mumbai.

We spoke to Shah Rukh just a few days back. Following are the excerpts.

Can you recount your first experience after arriving in Mumbai?

I came to Mumbai on train and (back then) I didn’t know that after it enters Mumbai city it became a local (train).  I had booked a berth with friends and I didn’t allow the passengers to share the seats (with my friends). Then after a while, a lady walked into the compartment and I told her that she could share the seats with her but not with the male passengers. She stared hard at me and said that everybody could sit on the seats. I told myself, ‘welcome to Mumbai’.

But then everything changed for you in Mumbai rather quickly…. We heard that fans make some very strange requests to you these days…

One of my fans wanted to swim in my pool. After we spotted him inside my compound at Mannat, we called the police and he was apprehended. When asked, he told the police that he had come there for a swim. That’s it.

Some of my fans have scaled seven floors (the walls of Mannat annexe, the building behind Mannat) to meet me. There are several such incidents. But I don’t want to encourage them by narrating those.

Some fans write letters to in blood. I hate these letters. It is a  complete no-no for me. I request all my fans to send me emails instead.

What was your first experience of stardom?

Many years back, a mother and daughter duo screamed ‘Abhimanyu Rai’, (his screen character from Fauji) when they spotted me in the middle of a prominent Delhi road. It was  a real fan moment for me and I felt proud that they had recognised me and that made me feel like a star. I want to thank them even today.

Were you a fan too before you became an actor?

I was a fan of Kumar Gaurav and thought I looked like him when he was young. I even wore a red checked shirt (a trademark of Kumar Gaurav) and got my pictures clicked in that costume.  When I came to Mumbai people, many said I looked like Kumar Gaurav and I thought that it was a huge compliment for me. When I grew up a bit more, I thought I looked like Al Pacino and started behaving like him (this is typical SRK humour). Now at 50, I think I look like my father. Maybe when I grow older I will feel I look like myself. These thoughts keep changing.

When did Maneesh Sharma discuss the story of Fan with you?

I met Maneesh many years ago. He had told me about this film but then I thought that we didn’t have the technical requirements to do a film like this. Then we met again at Yashraj when I was shooting for Chennai Express. I told him again, ‘let’s do a film together’ and he said that he wanted to do the same film. Now, that we have the technique, I said ‘lets do the film’.  There are no songs in the film nor any item numbers.  It’s just pure story telling.”

Why did you agree to do a film like Fan?

I wanted to do something very different.  “Everybody keeps  saying  that I am acting the same way for a couple of years.  I have tried to be different in the film. But this one is unique in its storyline. It’s a film about a fan who shouldn’t be what he is. He is what a fan shouldn’t be. Fans can sometimes go beserk and turn dangerous and that’s what the film is about. History is replete with stories of dangerous, obsesses fans and this is one such story.

The VFX part was very taxing for you we hear…

Working on the film was taxing mentally and physically. I used to take six hours for make-up during the initial days of the shoot and later on three hours for the make-up alone because it had to be VFX compatible. It was physically and mentally challenging. I also got injured during the shoot.  Doing a double role is always challenging and at this age, playing a 24-year-old is even more challenging.  When my fans saw me shooting in Delhi women on the streets said, ‘This is not SRK’. That was the time I realized that my make-up team is doing really good work on my face.


PS: A few words about the photo that we have used as the cover.

Shah Rukh Khan by Peter Martis for Screen

This photograph of Shah Rukh Khan was clicked by veteran Bollywood photographer Peter Martis. This photo was clicked on 27 June 1992 (Sunday), two days after the release of his debut film, Deewana. The film went on to become the second-highest grossing film of 1992. Shah Rukh Khan won a Filmfare award for Best Debut (Male) which he received from Rekha. This photo is regarded as one of the most famous but rare photos of Shah Rukh Khan that got him noticed in the industry. The photo was used as the cover of Screen, one of the most widely read film magazine of those days.


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