Ever since SRK stormed into the film industry more than 20 years ago, there have been stories of awe, humour, philosophy, fun and kinship from those who love him. Soumita Sengupta spoke to some the people whose lives he has touched, each of whom offers a rare glimpse into the remarkable man behind the star. Here’s what the film fraternity had to say about their favourite person – Shah Rukh Khan
Is this the only star I know who has never had a lean patch in two decades? That’s unique. But I always believe and also tell him that there is so much more to him than The Badshah, The King or all the other sobriquets he has been showered with. Shah Rukh redefines how much should one invest in a dream. He goes way out of any comfort zone to personally paint the whole landscape the way he dreamt it. He has the most unique connection with his fans. He’s a Pied Piper who does not play music because he likes them to follow the tune. He plays the music because he loves it himself. He plays it because he knows it gives them happiness. He plays it because their happiness makes him happy. It is a strange oneness that he has with his fans and they feel it.
I’ve known Shah Rukh since the days he was Shahrukh, not SHAH RUKH KHAN. Professionally, my relationship with Shah Rukh began as co-actors, before I directed him. We were both actors at that time and ended up working in the TV Series Circus, together. I still vividly remember the first time I met him. I was in Mr. Aziz Mirza’s office for a reading and he was this thin, lanky guy sleeping on a mattress in a corner, with his back turned to me. There was nothing special about that moment and yet, it was a striking image. When he finally woke up, I recognised him as the boy in Fauji and he remembered me from an article that had appeared about my film that I had acted in, produced in Hollywood called West is West. That’s when our friendship started. We went on to work in movies like Chamatkar and Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa after Circus.
When I was toying with the idea of turning director, I’d made this 10-minute short film to try my hand at direction. When I showed it to people, some loved it and others hated it. But there were three who made me believe I could be a good director. They were Deepak (Tijori), Aamir and Shah Rukh; all of whom I’d worked with as an actor.
The day we decided to work together on Swades, I started introducing nuances and shades of his own personality into Mohan’s character and started imbibing the shades of Mohan Bhargava in him – the simple half-sleeved shirts, the formal attire – they were never a part of Shah Rukh’s cinematic persona, but I needed to change the focus of his star image.
Mohan has an intimate charm to his character. It’s different from the blinding charisma that Shah Rukh the superstar exudes, but it’s there. Tapping into that uncharted part of Shah Rukh’s personality and funneling it into a character was what made Mohan special to me.
I always thought there was a Mohan Bhargava in him. Shah Rukh’s father was a freedom fighter; he comes from a world that understood, believed and lived by Mohan Bhargav’s ideologies. I wanted to bring out the influences of that part of his history in Swades.
As an actor, what I saw and admired greatly in Shah Rukh was his own spin to the ‘method’ of acting. Shah Rukh has this ability to learn and rehearse his lines at record speed. After he learns his lines, all his focus is on using his entire body to emote. He uses his eyes, lips, shoulders, hands – his entire body to give meaning to the dialogues he is delivering. It is fascinating to watch this very different approach. And that’s what makes him magnetic!
And as a director, what I love about Shah Rukh is his no-nonsense attitude and obedience. While shooting Swades, at no point did I feel like he was taking me for granted as a director because of our past as co-actors. The actor-director relationship between us wasn’t clouded by our friendship. When two people with a strong vision come together, there is always going to be a difference in perception over how a scene could and should be approached. It happened with me and Shah Rukh too. Whenever that happened, we would both give our versions of how something should play out, till we hit a common note that worked best. Mohan Bhargava is an outcome of that synergy. The second thing that makes Shah Rukh unique is his obedience. Even if he isn’t convinced about the need for a second, third or fourth take, he will do it simply because his director is asking him for it. And do it with equal enthusiasm each time, making him a pleasure to watch and direct.
Personally, I think that if you look at the man’s journey – from Darr to Maya Memsaab to Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa to Swades, to Chennai Express – he’s got so many shades to him! And I know there are still some elusive parts of his personality that filmmakers will tap into. When that happens, each time Shah Rukh would have lit – yet another light bulb!
Shah Rukh Khan is one of the finest actor, producer and a very humble human being. T-Series with SRK and his team has worked on many successful films together and he is a man with a creative vision to reach out to his audience in a unique yet massy way. He has helped Hindi film cinema reach the global film industry with his work which is very commendable.
The best thing about Shah Rukh Khan is whenever I meet him, I feel as if I am standing in Delhi, on a road in Hauz Khas, or somewhere similar. He is undoubtedly someone from Delhi who talks and behaves in a particular way; whose sense of ethics and humour is all extremely Delhi. It is delightful for me. The first time he met me, he said, ‘Tu toh Delhi ka hai na?’ I said, ‘I am from Jamshedpur but padhaayi Delhi se ki hai.’ I have met him on many occasions and we have had random chats. Neither he nor I have any agenda, and I am always very surprised that our meetings last several hours despite how extremely busy he is. Yet, while talking, he is always there, completely haazir. There is so much to learn from this man. There is a reason he is who he is. He is very positive, very direct, very honest but extremely positive. I wish him a very Happy Birthday and a long life. May he always enjoy the enchanted experience he is having on this planet.
Shah Rukh Khan has not changed one bit over the years. I want my son Tiger to follow Shah Rukh’s career graph. We shot together for Happy New Year and had lots of fun. Happiness always to golden, bhidu.
I have not met someone more charming than Shah Rukh sir. He makes you feel like a friend in the first 5 seconds. There’s so much I’ve learnt from him during Dilwale. He is inspiring, not only as an actor but also as a human being. He made us all feel so comfortable that we never felt we were shooting with a superstar. His passion for films and the hard work he puts in every single day is just amazing. Even watching him perform or listening to him talk is a learning experience. I had quite a few scenes with him, but my dream moment was the scene in which he and I were ballroom dancing.
Shah Rukh is one of those rare talents who are stars not in the way that we define movie stars. They are truly star-like because they have a luminous presence both on screen and off… and they bring warmth and light to all those they interact with. He is truly ageless…. and one for the ages! You know how it is, as stars grow older, they burn brighter. Shah Rukh is a supernova. My true admiration is for Shah Rukh, the human being. He is one of a kind. It has been an honour, a pleasure and a privilege to work with Shah Rukh and I hope our collaboration continues over the next 50 years!
I’ve been a serious fan of SRK since I first saw him in Deewana. He’s the only actor who has consistently made me believe in almost every role he’s played, regardless of how farfetched it may be! After working with him in Jab Tak Hai Jaan and Fan, I realise this is because he plays every role like it’s his first and last!
I wish him another 50 years of well-being and happiness and hope he always remains the warm, wise, knowledgeable and caring person that he is.
I have known Shah Rukh Khan for a very long time. We were looking for an A-list actor for our film Baazigar and no one was prepared to do the film because of the script. At that time, Deewana was it and I remembered Shah Rukh Khan, who had made his debut in that film. So I approached him with the script. What I remember from the very first meeting was his confidence. I was narrating the script to him when he told me, ‘I know the script and I don’t want to get into the nitty-gritty. Let’s start shooting.’ He has always exuded a confidence like that. It’s in his nature.
Shah Rukh has been that one personality outside my family who has inﬂuenced me most. From the moment I ﬁrst worked with him in Darr (I was an assistant director then), I knew I would be a fan forever. But more than just being a fan of his acting talent, I was inﬂuenced by him as a person in a far greater way. Shah Rukh has a quality that makes him stand out from everyone else I’ve ever encountered. He brings love to everything he does. I think he loves everything he interacts with, whether a director, a spot boy or even the chair he is sitting on! It’s that quality that attracts people to him.
If you ever watched him in a social situation, you will sense people gravitating towards him. It’s like he has this force of gravity that makes you want to remain in his presence and that presence is almost therapeutic. When you are talking to him, you feel that everything will be all right, that life is great and that you are the centre of the universe.
I feel awkward to say things like this about him because I also know him as a friend and one doesn’t usually talk like this about friends, lest people make fun of you for appearing too soppy (It’s a guy thing, I guess). However, on his 50th birthday, I decided to make an exception. So despite the fear of being laughed at by him, I will end this with a quote from his favorite poet… To Shah Rukh…“You are not a drop in the ocean, you are the entire ocean in a drop” – Rumi
There was a scene (in Dilwale) where I was supposed to bleed and Shah Rukh sir gave me the ‘blood’ he uses. In fact, he even applied it on me and also taught me a technique whereby it drips naturally. I will never part with that bottle because it is very special to me.
I owe my acting career to Shah sir as he was the reason I decided to become an actor. After watching his film, Baazigar, I decided to take up acting as a career. He has inspired many actors like me because he came from nowhere, really, and still made it so big in this industry. I remember the first time I shot with him, it was a Dish TV ad. I was totally awestruck by him but he made me feel so comfortable, which helped me give my best shot. The biggest lesson I have learnt from him is that if you have passion, you can achieve whatever you want. I also learnt to play FIFA from him on the sets of Dilwale.