Farah Khan pens a beautiful note on her best friend, Shah Rukh Khan.
The story of Shah Rukh Khan is an unbelievably magical and inspiring story of success, determination and win against all odds. We know the star but not the man behind the stardust. And perhaps, we may never know him fully. Yet, if there’s anyone who knows
Icall him Shah and always have. Shah Rukh is too long and SRK is for fans and others. He normally calls me Farah but of late, he has begun to get mixed up between his daughter Suhana and me. That’s okay because I sometimes get mixed up myself and call my son, Shah Rukh! There is also the similarity between Czar and Shah, that they are two close and important men in my life. I met Shah Rukh for the first time on the sets of Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa and I was already very scared of him because I had read one of his bombastic interviews in Stardust. And my first thought was, “Oh God, this guy is so arrogant. I’m going to have a tough time.” So I went with a lot of trepidation. But things turned out to be completely different.
I met him on a road near the set. He was practising the trumpet that he plays throughout the film. Strangely, I felt I was meeting a college friend or someone I’ve known for very long. We became instant friends. This was in 1990 in Goa. He had just got married and had brought Gauri along too. So during the entire shoot, we would go to the shacks at night. We were a young crowd who all got along very well. He was also a great help to me while shooting the songs because it was a ‘gareeb’ production and I had no assistant. I had to do everything so Shah Rukh used to literally come and be my assistant. We had no dancers. The locals, who had never shot a movie before and didn’t know how to sing, were recruited. He would lie down on the floor and pinch them when they had to get up and things like that! That was part of my first impression of him.
ZERO TO HERO
Another part of the first impression was that
I felt he was a fab dancer because he could do cartwheels, back flips and front flips. If you see the Deewana song, you will see him doing all this. Gauri was also a super dancer and I was very impressed with these two Delhites. Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa (KHKN) is my most favourite Shah Rukh film. I must have seen it at least 50 times. He is absolutely endearing in it! KHKN took two years to make and as the movie progressed, he became a big star with Deewana and Baazigar. He didn’t become a different person but he became insanely busy. He used to shoot all night in Bombay and catch a morning flight to Goa for another shoot. If we were shooting on the road, he would, on the way from the airport, stop and shave, his makeup man would put make-up, he would shoot all day and take the night flight back to Mumbai to shoot again. In fact, in the middle of the mafia song (Sacchi yeh kahaani hai), he got involved in a controversy, having beaten up a journalist and got arrested! It was amusing because we didn’t have the hero of the film on set that day.
Over the years, he has been a very good friend and has always been there for me.
During my recent crisis, he would call me in the morning (and I’m not used to Shah Rukh calling at 10.30 am) and enquire about my well-being.
I may not talk to him everyday but I know that if there is a crisis, he is there. I remember once he was shooting at Filmistan studios and I was at home in Juhu. I started crying on the phone, due to some personal relationship stress. He kept consoling me and then one hour later, my bell rang. He had come over at lunch break. He loves counselling and giving advice. The best advice he has given me was to get married and have kids. He was like, “Work will always be there but have babies, too”.
THE FRIENDSHIP & THE FRICTION
Between Shah Rukh and Gauri, I was always friendlier with Shah Rukh because we were spending a lot of time together. We have a similar sense of humour. We are both literate and well-read and we would discuss books and movies. We played games on the sets and then started going for holidays together. We were a group that included Karan (Johar) and Aditya (Chopra).there was a brief period when we were upset with each other and not on talking terms. There was always a bitter taste in my mouth as I’m sure there was in his, too. I’d feel something was not right but there was not a day when I didn’t miss him. It’s like when you fight with a family member and the whole day, there is a cloud over your head. If your love is strong, you let bygones be bygones because everything else is superficial. Now we can’t even remember what happened but there’s always a third party that revels in it.
THE STORY OF MAIN HOON NAA
When I decided to turn director, I couldn’t look beyond him. I wrote Main Hoon Naa with him in mind. I wanted to make a young movie but he said that he had recently played a college kid in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and felt he was too old to repeat it. I wrote it backward, so that it could be young yet, have him in it. Though he agreed at once, Shah Rukh being Shah Rukh, took three years to start. He is a procrastinator and can never say no to anybody. So he will say yes and then keep you waiting. So those three years I was very stressed, wondering if he was really going to do it! I have worked with nearly every producer as a choreographer and I can tell you that there is no producer like Shah Rukh. On his films, I would be the production controller trying to control budgets but he was always trying to get better foreign technicians or equipment. Luckily, I am such a tight and economical director that my films never went over budget. I must be the only director who spent his money wisely and everything is visible in the finished film. I hate shooting action and he loves action so I would meticulously plan my action scenes and then he would come and make it larger than life with foreign technicians. If I wanted a Jimmy Jib shot, he would call for a helicopter instead. So his shoots always became bigger, bigger, bigger.
Main Hoon Naa was a real pleasure to work on; it was a happy set. And then Om Shanti Om went one step further and became even better. Again on the sets of Happy New Year, Shah
Rukh was very relaxed. He’s always at ease when
shooting with me because he knows he just has to turn up and not worry about what the shot is or how it will go down. In fact, during Happy New Year, there were so many boys and they would all be in the van playing Playstation till I would scream at them commanding them to come for the shot. THE CLASSIC SRK POSE
On the dancing front, I did not need to reinvent it for him because I understood what he can do and what he looks good doing. But I can’t imagine anyone doing Chhaiyan Chhaiyan the way he did. He was literally on top of the engine with me screaming at him to get down. He is fearless. For a shot, he’ll do anything. I’ve often been asked if the classic dance pose of his with his arms spread out, is my invention. Honestly, I can’t really remember but I know there is a lot of it in Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa’s Deewana, song so I’m taking credit for it.
Considering that Shah Rukh has had some of the best songs, I have to say that he has no ear for music at all. Even for Karan’s movies he never interfered in the music. Even though he had no contribution in creating the music, I would give him 100 per cent credit for creating magic on screen. Any song, when it is picturised on him, becomes 100 times better. Talking of music, I would credit his goodwill most of all, like 80 per cent, for getting all the actors for the title song of Om Shanti Om. It’s really sad that that was the last time, the whole industry came together as a family and there was so much positivity and fun on the sets. When shooting songs for Shah Rukh, I make sure they are the best, especially romantic songs. The last one we did together was Gerua in Dilwale with Kajol and though there’s not much to do when he is doing a romantic song because he is so good at it, it is also important to keep it fresh and new. Another thing about Shah Rukh is that whatever might happen in the middle of a shot, he will never leave it. Like in Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani, Juhi Chawla had to throw paint on him which she did and it was only when the shot got over, did we realise that the paint had got into his nose and mouth. On cut, he threw up and when I asked him why he hadn’t stopped the shot, he just said that he wanted to complete it. I know actors who call for cut if their hair is a little out of place. SECRET TO HIS DIMPLED CHARM
He is so good on stage as a host or interacting with non-film people because, for one, he is an excellent people’s person and he also has a ready wit and an excellent command over English. Also, being a theatre person, he is sharp and witty on stage. He is very gracious and knows how to be funny without running you down. He will always make the other person feel nice. It’s all part of his charm. I know he always says he is very shy but I’ve never seen him shy, so I don’t know why he keeps saying so. Yes, he does get embarrassed when girls throw themselves at him. But shy? No! I am constantly besieged by people who want to meet him but the most embarrassing moment was when some of my school mothers came
for the Ed Sheeran party, and forgetting Ed Sheeran, attacked Shah Rukh and tore his shirt! I think somewhere he also enjoys it, so I also don’t stop them. When I travel abroad, it’s the same. He is more friendly with girls and loves chatting with them. He’s not your Alpha male or your aggressive macho man, he is more of a gentleman. Maybe that’s why we get along so well because he’s in touch with his feminine side and I’m in touch with my masculine side.
He is very kind and I think, has also forgotten the kind acts he has done over the years. He has given money for several junior artistes’ mothers’ operations and set up a children’s wing for kids suffering from cancer. In another instance, there was this foreigner driver during the Kal Ho Na Ho schedule in New York who had lost his laptop. Shah Rukh went to the Apple store and bought him a new one. He is very generous but never talks about the good deeds.
He is a fabulous father. I used to see him with Aryan when he was small. Shah Rukh used to be obsessed with him. He gives a lot of time to his kids. He can sit for hours with them. I see him now spending hours with Abram, teaching him things like how to do gymnastics but Aryan was his obsession. Now I see him much more with Suhana. When she was growing up, he used to say, “She’s a daughter. I don’t know how to behave with her. With Aryan, I can backslap him or tap him on his head but she’s a girl and I have to respect her privacy.” Fatherhood is the happiest thing for him. We have spoken a lot about his parents and he always tells me that I remind him a lot about his mother because she was also fearless and bold. I’ve been with him to his mom and dad’s graves when we were once in Delhi. I would always wish him happiness and I know what gives him maximum happiness is his kids and his work. So, here’s wishing him success in both forever because that is truly what gives him happiness.
- AS TOLD TO INDU MIRANI
GANG OF FRIENDS AND CO-STARS: KARAN JOHAR, FARAH, KAJAL ANAND, GAURI, SRK, ALIA BHATT, KATRINA KAIF AND SIDHARTH MALHOTRA
A STILL FROM KABHI HAAN KABHI NAA, THE MOVIE THAT INTRODUCED FARAH TO SRK
A STILL FROM MAIN HOON NAA
HAPPY NEW YEAR PROMOTIONS
A STILL FROM BAAZIGAR
THE FAMOUS HANDS OUTSTRETCHED POSE! SALMAN IMITATES SRK!
OM SHANTI OM
THE SPECIAL SONG IN OM SHANTI OM
SRK IS GREAT ON STAGE A BEAUTIFUL FAMILY PORTRAIT
A STILL FROM HAPPY NEW YEAR
WITH DAUGHTER SUHANA