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

Masala! - - INSIDE... - By Farah Khan

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.

DADDY DU­TIES

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

FRIENDS FOR­EVER!

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

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