"Initially even Subhash Ghai and Yash Chopra thought I was arrogant... See, my attitude is `love me or leave me.' I'm very hard-working. I give you value for money. You may be a big director but I'm a big actor too. So you're not doing me a favour by taking me in your film. Don't expect me to touch your feet and dance to your tunes, no sir."
(Stardust Magazine)

BollyWHAT?'s favorite actor was once so cash-strapped that he was forced to use a hotel bathroom to wash up before an audition. In the space of only a few years, he had become India's biggest star.

    Though he no longer undisputedly rules the roost, anyone who thinks his day is done should remember that Shahrukh Khan has made a career out of achieving the impossible. In an industry arguably more nepotistic than Hollywood, Shahrukh, from a middle-class Delhi family with no connections to the film industry, is an entirely self-made man. Breaking into television from theater, and from TV into film, is supposed to be impossible. Yet Shahrukh did just that, moving from Barry John's Theatre Action group to the small-screen serial 'Fauji,' and from there to cinematic success in 1992's Deewana. Villains do not become heroes in Hindi cinema, yet the man who is famous for his loverboy performances in DDLJ and KKHH made his name playing spine-chilling psychotics in Baazigar, Anjaam, and Darr.

   Now Hrithik Roshan is drawing the bulk of overseas attention, and Aamir Khan's first production and star-vehicle Lagaan has won Oscar approbation and worldwide exposure. Meanwhile, Shahrukh's own production company has garnered steep financial losses: Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani, One 2 Ka 4, and Asoka all bombed at the Indian box office. A columnist in Stardust Magazine refers to him as "a fading and frustrated superstar." Has the conclusion of the 1990s also brought an end to Shahrukh's reign?

    The answer: a resounding NO. His performance in 2001's international blockbuster Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham left critics raving, and his recent release, Devdas, is the first Indian film to be showcased at the Cannes Film Festival and an undisputed blockbuster in a year of unremitting flops. Besides, Shahrukh's astounding charisma is unequaled by even the most talented of his competitors -- and, we would argue, anyone in Hollywood to boot. Still, there are people in high places who may be rooting for his downfall. Some allegedly include:

 • Govinda. For a time, these two were publicly at loggerheads. In March 2000, Filmfare Online asked Shahrukh about this:

Q: You know the way Govinda and you love to make these jibes at each other all the time, it always looked stage-managed. Is it?

  A:   ...I don't like to talk about it because it triggers it off again. I'd said something in English which was misunderstood by a certain segment of people around him. I'd said something on a show to the effect that 'I can do what I do best. I cannot do what Govinda can do and perhaps Govinda can't do what I can'. It did not mean that I will not do what Govinda does. I wish I could do what Govinda does. I wish I could put my lungi over my head and dance but I can't do it. But it was quoted very differently. He told me also that his mother was very hurt because she felt I was saying that Govinda doesn't do good things. I felt very bad about that. I didn't know how to explain. I called him up and said, 'Listen, please explain to your mom that I didn't mean it this way.' I just said that in English it sounds very different. That I can't do what he does and maybe he can't do what I do. It wasn't meant to be that I will not do what he does. Or what he does is derogatory or bad. I guess that cleared it up. After that I've never had a misunderstanding with him.

 • Sunny Deol. He is infamously bitter about his experience acting across from Shahrukh in Yash Chopra's Darr. Deol feels Chopra deliberately misrepresented his role, and that Shahrukh Khan (his co-star in the film) knowingly complied with Chopra's efforts. Aamir Khan, who was Chopra's original choice for Shahrukh's role, seems to confirm the allegation in an interview from India Bollywood: "I didn’t do Darr because Yashji was playing games. He was narrating one thing to me and quite another to Sunny Deol, which I got to know. I knew all along that it was Sunny and not me who was being taken for a ride."

   Yet Shahrukh denies any knowledge of Deol's supposed grievance: "If he has a problem with me, he has never told me about it. Anil Sharma told me that Sunny has no problem with me. I don't know what Sunny's problems are with the people he has worked with. It's not my business and I'm not going to interfere. I feel if you don't like something don't do it and if you're doing something then you better like it. It's simple as that. " (Filmfare, Feb 2002)

  • Yash Chopra, who has cast Shahrukh in some of his biggest hits, including DDLJ, and DTPH. According to Cineblitz, when Shahrukh began to earn over a crore for each film, Chopra continued to pay him roughly half that amount -- "less than what Kajol or Karisma demand for their films" -- provoking the anger of other filmmakers who felt Chopra was abusing his power. Out of a sense of loyalty to the man who had "made" his career, Shahrukh ignored the whispered discontent. But then "Shah Rukh was informed by certain distributors abroad, that Yash-Raj Combine (Yash Chopra's distribution concern), had minted huge amounts of money with Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and that they were lying to Yash Johar about the profit figures. When Shah Rukh heard of this, he is said to have been shocked and livid. Everyone knows that Karan and Yash Johar, mean more than family to him. And he apparently couldn't accept the fact that Yash Chopra, who claimed to be friends with Yash Johar, could resort to something like this. The situation was further aggravated when K.C. Bokadia...approached Shah Rukh for a film and had actually offered him four crores of rupees...Bokadia told Shah Rukh in no uncertain terms, that the Chopras were taking him for granted and that Shah Rukh should realise that in his case, it was not the director who would sell the film but Shah Rukh himself. He apparently further went on to give factual proof of Shah Rukh's immense popularity inside and outside the country, and urged him to reconsider Yash Chopra's terms and conditions. By now, Shah Rukh was reportedly seething with anger. He is said to have got right back to Yash Chopra and told him that considering the circumstances, he was not at all sure that he wanted to do Chopra's next film, unless he was given seven crores of rupees, which is the territorial price for his films. A fuming Yash Chopra apparently confronted Shah Rukh, claiming to have been the one to have made him into what he is today. Shah Rukh is said to have walked out with dignity, refusing to fall prey to Yash Chopra's approach. After repeatedly contacting K.C. Bokadia who was away in Jaipur, we finally got him on the line to shed some light on the matter. "This is the first time I am hearing of this," he began with. "I am so busy outside Mumbai, why should I involve myself with the politics of this industry? Besides, how can I say anything against such big people like Yash Chopra? This is totally false. Yes, I am doing a film with Shah Rukh and Salman called Hum Tumhare Hain Sanam. But I have not spoken to Shah Rukh about Yash Chopra, believe me. And why would I want to create trouble between Shah Rukh and Yash Chopra? I have better things to do." As of now, Shah Rukh and Yash Chopra are reportedly not on speaking terms, though Aditya Chopra is said to be the mediator on his father's behalf. As is typical of Shah Rukh, the actor has maintained extremely cordial relations with Aditya Chopra, who is a close friend. He has even promised to work in at least Aditya's films, even though he may never work with Yash Chopra again." (Cineblitz)

     Shahrukh has also landed in gossip columns for reasons uncategorically not of his making. The actor has always cited his mother's death as the most important event of his life: "I didn't join films to become a great star. I wanted a change from my mother's memory. I started believing in God after my mother's death because then there is heaven and hell and I might meet her there. I think of her as a star. She is a solid point of reference in my life. And I figure, if I'm in films, if I'm 70mm, it's easier for her to see me." (India Today, April 15, 1995) But such public avowals of grief have made him a magnet for mentally ill impersonators. In September 1998, he spoke to Rediff about "that woman who said she was my mother and fought a case with me. Now that lady was not my mother, and I was really nice to her before she put the case on me and all -- I had met her outside my house -- and I try and help people if they ask for money and stuff... After everything was finished, people used to say 'Arre yaar - bechaari... [Hey, what a poor little guy] You had the money to fight the case!' What bechaari? I am not the one who started this court case!" (Rediff, Sep. 1998)

   But perhaps the best person to explain SRK is the actor himself, who, as he proves in the following excerpt from Stardust Magazine, never gives a boring interview:

"See, I know I have my limitations. I very well know that I just have four to five routine expressions. I'm surviving solely on them. Any small little thing that hurts me, I guess. See, I'm a good guy. I've never wished anybody harm. So I don't like it when people do it to me. Also the attitudes. I feel angry when I see `Phoolan Devi' being stopped from going to the Oscars. I mean, come on. Out there, you can make a film on John F. Kennedy's life, send it for awards and be proud of it. This is something I cannot do anything about. So I take my anger out on something else. I get angry when people take advantage of me. When a big producer calls me up and tells me that I have to attend some goddamn function the next day, I have to say yes because the guy is big and I need him. So I have to go down on my knees. Remember the time I hit a waiter at one of Subhash Ghai's parties? I was upset over some other reason and I took it all out on the poor chap. Most of the times, I feel very bad after I unleash my anger on someone who's innocent. And I do apologise to the person at once. But that's me.

"...See, the day I get the kind of success I want, I'll probably become as corrupt as corruption. That's a fact. But otherwise, I will not let it affect me. See, I never joined films to make money or be a superstar. I came into this line for a much deeper reason. I came here only to get over my mother's death. This is something very few people understand. I lost my mother, I lost my father, two of the people I loved most. What greater loss can I suffer? I can't lose more. When my mother died, I too thought that I was going to die. But I did not die. Life did not end. It's going on. In fact, by some standards, it's even better. I'm earning more money, I'm famous, I'm rich. And I miss my mother even more. My biggest regret is that the more I rise higher in life, the more I miss my mother.

        Q: A lot of people say that you built your foundation on other heroes' rejects.

        So what? `Darr' was Aamir's role and I knew that.  [Ed. note: Ironically, Shahrukh was the first choice for Aamir Khan's role in Oscar-nominated Lagaan.]  Before I signed the film, I spoke to him at length as to why he was rejecting such a brilliant role. Even `Baazigar' was a Salman reject. But that is understandable. It was a novel theme and Salman was an established hero. So one can understand his insecurity. Maybe if `Baazigar' was offered to me today, I would not do it. See, I did rejects but there were two ways of looking at it. One was getting depressed and the other one was believing that the roles were rejected by others because they were written for me. Even in `Deewana', I knew that I was present only in six reels. But my attitude was, `Balls to whoever is acting in the film, balls to whoever is directing it. I only know that I am `Deewana' and I have to be the best'.

      Q: You are very arrogant, you know.
      I'm not arrogant, I'm just clear-cut. I have a lot of dos and don'ts. Initially even Subhash Ghai and Yash Chopra thought I was arrogant. Yash Chopra told me the other day that after signing me on for `Darr', he was still looking for a replacement because he thought I was too arrogant. He thought that I would give him lot of trouble. Today, he says he can't even think of anyone besides me. See, my attitude is `love me or leave me.' I'm very hard-working. I give you value for money. You may be a big director but I'm a big actor too. So you're not doing me a favour by taking me in your film. Don't expect me to touch your feet and dance to your tunes, no sir.

Shahrukh and his wife, Gauri      Q: What about your various link-ups?
      I told you that I've come here to work, not have affairs. People linked me with Kajol initially. I treat her like a kid sister. I remember, during `Baazigar', I would give her a tapli and tell her how to act. I used to hit her also at times. Then someone wrote that I was having an affair with Juhi Chawla? You know, false stories like these spoil relationships. Juhi was the only actress who had attended my wedding ceremony, in fact. And you know, I like interacting a lot with my co-stars. When stories like these appear, I tend to be on my guard. I can't sit with any heroine in her make-up room because I fear that people would think I'm ******* her. Believe me, the day I think of any girl in that sense, I will say it openly. What I don't understand is that, why can't I be in love with the girl I'm married to? Come on, we've just been married for two years and we're not bored of each other still. Some people even say that I'm scared of my wife? What the ****? You tell me, if I ask you about your wife, what will you say? That she's a nice girl, sweet person, you love her, isn't it? So why should it be considered abnormal if I say the same?

Shahrukh Khan

Shahrukh Khan
born: November 2, 1965
height: 5' 9"

1991 Dil Aashna Hai
1991 Idiot
1992 Chamatkar
1992 Deewana*
1992 Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman
1993 Baazigar*
1993 Darr*
1993 Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa*
1993 King Uncle
1993 Maya Memsaab
1994 Anjaam
1995 Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge*
1995 Guddu
1995 Karan Arjun*
1995 Oh Darling Yeh Hai India!
1995 Ram Jaane
1995 Trimurti
1995 Zamaana Deewana
1996 Army
1996 Chaahat
1996 Dushman Duniya Ka
1996 English Babu Desi Mem
1996 Shikhaar
1997 Dil To Pagal Hai*
1997 Koyla*
1997 Pardes*
1997 Yes Boss*
1998 Dil Se..*
1998 Duplicate
1998 Kuch Kuch Hota Hai*
1998 Sar Aankhon Par
1999 Baadshah
2000 Gaja Gamini
2000 Hey Ram
2000 Josh*
2000 Mohabbatein
2000 Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani
2001 Asoka*
2001 Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham*
2001 One 2 Ka 4
2002 Devdas*
2002 Hum Tumhare Hain Sanam
2002 Saathiya (sp. app.)*
2002 Shakti
2003 Chalte Chalte
2003 Kal Ho Na Ho
2004 Main Hoon Na*
2004 Swades
2004 Veer-Zaara*
* acclaimed performance

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