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Shah Rukh Nama: The Story Of How A ‘Fauji’ Became A ‘Baadshah’

‘Chand tare tod laaun. Saari duniya par mein chhaun. Bas itna sa khawab hai’, were the words, as the onscreen aspirational ‘Rahul’ declared his dreams to the world. Who knew, the universe was conspiring to make it true in real!

The Delhi boy, Shah Rukh Khan, was all set to make Bollywood his kingdom and the world his stage, as he became the biggest movie star – a global icon courted by many.

An actor, whose popularity transcends boundaries and generations – those who grew up watching his films to the generation that has been introduced to him by previous one – time has definitely not made a dent in his popularity.

I remember showing Shah Rukh a video of my 8-year-old nephew, recreating the famous SRK pose, dancing to Zalima. He said “dekha, sabko bigaad deta hun main”!

This is the same man who once excitedly disclosed to me, “you know when they told me I had to do a picture for Filmfare with Amitabh Bachchan, and they told me I had to put my hand on his shoulder, it was my first time meeting him, but I was so scared, because I didn’t want to taint him. Similarly, when I met Sridevi for the first time, she was a bit reserved, but I was like ma’am can I hug you please? So all these talks of dream big, believe in the impossible, follow your dreams, let me tell you – all of this is true!”

Kiska Hai Ye Tumko Intezaar, SRK Hai Na!

As Michael Jackson says, don’t stop till you get enough! But King Khan wants to be your “Sledgehammer”. He only wants the power to entertain and keep entertaining. He refers to himself as ‘a commodity you can buy off the shelf’.

I belong to the SRK generation, well into my teens, when he made his debut on the small screen with Fauji. And in college, when made his debut in Bollywood.

My first memory is of a very uncomfortable Shah Rukh, doing an aerobic circuit with Divya Bharati, as he sang Aisi Deewangi. 

Then, of course, as he tried to make our blood run cold as the psychopath in Baazigar and Darr, the only thought that came to mind was, ‘hero ab kaise banoge yaar’, since Salman and Aamir were doing a splendid job of playing lover boys.

But he tugged not only mine, but a whole lot of people’s hearts, as Sunil in Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa. The earnest boy, who would go to any lengths to get the girl of his dreams. The film is my eternal favourite, and even his, as each time we’ve met, he’s said “ya I know, I know, you loved me in just that film, but you know what it’s my favourite too”. Admitting, if he could go back in time, this was the movie he would show his mother.

The rest, as they say, is history. From Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, to Don, to Chennai Express – SRK ko pakadna mushkil hai, par namumkin nahi. It’s just that you need to wait, because the King is never on time!

He sheepishly grins and says,”you know, time management is not my thing”, as he gives you a hug and kisses your forehead. Even the cynics have their knees turn to jelly.

Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Tum Nahi Samjhoge

He is an interviewers dream, from the head of a publication to green, behind the ears, cub reporters – each one returns with a bit of Shah Rukh.

From Coppola to Cricket, Prince to Rumi, Hansel and Gretel to Quantum Physics – all in the same breath; his intelligence and wit are unmatchable.

He is Delhi’s success story, from the far flung colonies to the posh localities – there is a thriving club, as his films cut across the so-called ‘class and social’ divide.

His trips to Delhi mean binging on Dilli ka khaana. ‘Chhole bhature to chicken tikka and even chaat’. Even though he can no longer visit Moolchand for the paranthas, the taste of those still lingers in his memories.

Courted by controversy, spats with colleagues that made headlines, being caught in the cross fire of Bollywood’s factions – he took ’em all. When criticized for dancing at weddings, or being accused of manipulating awards, he had only one retort, and which remains my favourite SRK quote till date – “If you like me, raise your hands, and if you don’t, raise your standards”.

A man, who came with dreams and a hunger to win against all odds, and made it big on his own steam!

His self-assurance pricks many, from those who wait to announce the end of his reign each time another Khan or Kumar gives a hit, to those waiting in the wings to just catch him miss a step.

Har Pal Yahan, Jee Bhar Jiyo

The Badshah says “The image of me being an extremely self-confident person, knowing things – this is the façade I have. This is how I live life, being an extremely shy and introverted person; and for me the biggest dream came true now and 25 years ago, is to see how people love me. I sometimes feel it’s a dream and I may wake up from it!”

Well, for most of us, SRK has given us moments we don’t want to wake up from. So, as he turns a year older, he has teased many of his young co-stars, that he would still be around to serenade their daughters. We’ll believe you, the king of hearts.

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