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Memories Of A Birthday Of The Badshah

365

Ali Peter John

It is Sunday, November 2 and it is certainly not a day like any other day for Shah Rukh Khan who had never in his wildest dreams had thought that his forty- ninth birthday would be celebrated like a world festival. Outside “Mannat”, the “palace” he has built there are thousands of people who have come not only from Mumbai but from different parts of the country and even the world. There is an atmosphere of frenzied festivity. There are fireworks in the afternoon. There are girls and even middle-aged and elderly women wearing T-shirts with the name Shah Rukh Khan emblazoned on them and they have been waiting to have a glimpse of Badshah Khan all through the previous night and all morning and refuse to leave unless they see the man who has won not only the city but the whole world. There are corners in which young boys and girls sing songs from his films. There are others who play the drums and dholaks, while others keep shouting out “Shah Rukh, Shah Rukh” endlessly. There is a traffic jam all over Band Stand where “Mannat” stands facing the sea and where to add to the “madness” of the Badshah’s fans and admirers are a large crowd of people and lovers who have come to Band Stand to have a good time on a Sunday and if possible to have a look at the Badshah. Colourful big balloons go up into the sky from time to time. The picnickers and those who are on a tour around the city are jubilant when the drivers of the tourist buses stop and the guides proudly point out “Mannat” to them as if it is “jannat” (paradise) and the tourists beg of the drivers to stop for some more time, but the Police and the countless security guards keep urging the drivers to keep moving every vehicle to keep the main entry to “Jannat”, sorry “Mannat” clear…

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The media is given special treatment as the doors of “Mannat” are thrown open to them, but under strict arrangements made to see that they all carried their ID cards and a printout of the invitations. The media, mostly young girls who should have been in school or college try their best to push their way into “Mannat”. The Badshah’s PR, Mandvi and Gaurav have a tough time dealing with the media in the best and most polite way possible. The genuine media finally make themselves comfortable in the best of chairs and keep waiting for the Badshah. Two hours in the sun and none of them show any signs of irritation or restlessness like they show at any other event or function. They too are waiting for the Badshah with the same kind of eagerness like the crowd outside which only keeps growing and whose shouts of “Shah Rukh, Shah Rukh” keeps growing louder and more excited and there are cameras placed even on top of the surrounding buildings to catch the celebrations in the best way…

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The Badshah finally arrives and the media gets into its own kind of frenzy, but the Badshah has other plans. Dressed in his usual kind of T-shirt he wades through the crowd of the media and reaches the lawns of “Mannat” and waves out to the large crowd from the fence of “Mannat” which tears the afternoon sun into pieces with their shouts of joy which not only threaten the sun but also become a threat to the sky and reach heaven in a kind of massive prayer for the well- being of the Badshah. He keeps changing sides and does everything that the crowd loves and cheers him on to be flushed with happiness because after all, it is the love of these faceless and nameless men, women and children who have been showering him with all their love and affection for so many years. The people keep asking for more and more of their Badshah, but he has to stop somewhere because there are so many others who want to love him and be loved by him on his birthday…

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The Badshah comes back and the happiness he has felt after the people have shown him how much they love him makes him forget all his tiredness and he looks much more fresh and young when he returns to celebrate his birthday with the media. He begins by saying he is very thankful to all those who have made him the SRK he is today. He goes on to say that he felt humbled on his birthday after experiencing the love which has been flowing in for him from the previous night and has been doubling up with the morning and the afternoon and he knows his people who will continue to shower him with their love in different ways all through his birthday. He is also very considerate and says a big sorry to all his neighbours for disturbing them on his birthday and then gets down to business with the media with whom he says he loves to celebrate not only his birthday but all the special occasions in his life and during his entire career…

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Summing up his life and career he says it is all almost indefinable and could not be described in words. He continues his talk about his feeling humbled and grateful to one and all. He has returned from Jaipur the previous night at two, and celebrated his birthday with his wife Gauri, his sister, his children Suhana and specially Abram (Aryan is studying abroad and couldn’t be present for his father’s birthday) and then with all his friends from the industry. The party goes on till six in the morning when he goes to sleep and wakes up only at two, gets ready and comes out as fresh as ever to continue his celebrations which have been the best because of a double occasion, the grand success of his film, “Happy New Year” and his birthday…

The sweet bombardment of questions from the media starts and goes on for the next one and a half hour and he is unfazed as he tries answering every question (however inane they are). Some of his answers which make sense I try to remember and reproduce…

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He said he was forty- nine and would be fifty next year, but at heart, he still felt like that new actor in the first TV serial he acted in, “Fauji” and went on to say that some of his friends who had reached his age had become “uncles” and “aunts” and looked forward to their retirement, but he by the grace of God still felt like the young man who had started on his journey when he was an aspiring actor and said it was all in the mind and all because of the hand of Providence and a certain amount of luck that he had reached so far. All he had when he started was talent and the will to work hard to be known as a good actor and that was what led him on the journey which has reached an interesting cross-road…

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He said women had played a very important part in his life whether it was his mother and his sister, his wife Gauri, all his heroines and even the women who worked for him like Karuna who has been largely responsible for the way his career has shaped and now a PR head like Mandvi Sharma. In the same vein he said he had his own ideas of romance and he could show how romantic he was by showing how much he cared for women and would do anything for them…

He repeatedly said that his biggest source of inspiration were his children with whom he tried to spend as much time as possible. He also found time to inculcate in them all the best values of life which he had imbibed and wanted them to follow as they grew up. He let out a secret when he said that his daughter Suhana was interested in making it as an actress and if she continued with her ambition, he would not only support her but would do everything possible to see her as a respectable and responsible actor…

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The Badshah talked about the many directors he had worked with, especially those who had made their first films with him, directors like Aditya Chopra, Karan Johar, Anees Bazmee, Farah Khan, Shimit Amin, Maneesh Sharma, Abbas- Mustan who had directed their first successful film “Baazigar” with him in a negative role but as a hero and even veterans like Yash Chopra and Subhash Ghai. He said it was his directors who had got the best out of him as an actor because he believed that a good film could only be made with a good director who knew how to breathe life into a script. When asked if he was ready to direct a film, he took just two seconds to say that he would never direct a film because he was not fit to be a director and would be happy to continue as the actor he is and would like to be in the next fifty years…

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He mentioned the achievements of his company, Red Chillies and the other branches of his company like Kidzania, his special effects department and his marketing and PR department and thanked all the people working with him to give life to his many dreams. SRK said that he would like to make a basket full of different films of different genres, like he had made films like “Swades” and “Paheli” and the recently released commercial blockbuster, “Happy New Year”. He was in a position to make the kind of films he wanted and would make the best of the opportunity he had…

The questions kept flooding him but he fielded all of them, even making efforts to answer questions which were embarrassing and not fit to be answered, but in his birthday mood, he never let any question go out of the gates of “Mannat”…

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The Badshah was still looking for different kinds of roles and in one of his moments he said he wondered why he was not being offered the role of a Police officer when other actors had to play the police man at some stage of their career. In an aside, he said, “I think they believe that I am best as a chor” (thief)…

He also made a special mention about his teaming up with Aamir Khan. He was very open to his doing a film with Aamir, but there has to be a script which does complete justice to both Aamir and him because he knew that if they came together there would be high expectations and they would have to live up to them…

His active support to his cricket team, “Kolkata Knight Riders” was also one of the reasons for him to be happy and he hoped that his team would win more matches because it had lost some of the matches in a bad way. He had changed his entire team and was now looking forward to the new team with great expectations…

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The Badshah who has rarely talked about politics also had his say about the new governments at both the Centre and in Maharashtra. He said they had just come in and had shown the country that they had the ability to lead the country from darkness to light. He asked the people to give the governments time to settle down and he was sure that they would deliver on the promises they had made. “My only genuine request to them is to take care of the interests of women and education in the country, besides, of course wiping out corruption which has become the cancer of the country”. SRK who was still not exhausted answering questions which was his best way of celebrating his birthday he said as he went one step further and said he was a very reclusive man and the only people before he could open up was the media who have been very understanding all through his career, even though he was not the best subject who could give them controversial stories or all those shocking and sensational stories other actors who he had nothing against gave them…

Actor Shahrukh Khan and his son AbRam Khan during a fan meet from the balcony of Mannat on Eid-ul-Fitr celebrations

In a final rounding up of that hot afternoon which ended almost when it was evening SRK said that he had changed a lot during the last few years. He had grown quiet and loved being by himself and with his children…

It was the end of one of his most memorable meetings with the media which had enough material to write about him till he would be fifty on November 2, 2015…

Outside the crowd had swelled to any number of people who looked like so many excited specks. I was the first to walk out of “Mannat” and was looked at by these specks of people like a very lucky man who had come out of “Mannat”, the palace of the Badshah. The autorickshaw driver was all in awe of me because I had the chance to be with Shah Rukh Khan which is the dream of millions…

Ps. I must take this opportunity to thank Ms. Mandvi Sharma who kept me alive with the delicious snacks she kindly brought for me and thank Karuna for leading me to the gate and asking the security to get me an auto to go home safely. It must have been something they have learnt from the Badshah in his company…

DDLJ COMPLETES ONE THOUSAND WEEKS AND STILL WINS HEARTS

Some twenty years ago, the elder son of Yash Chopra, Aditya Chopra who was an ardent fan who saw every single film every Friday and joined his father who he considered as the only institution as his assistant told his father that he had completed his first script and wanted to direct his first film for his father’s banner…

His father was gloriously happy and was happier after reading the script and gave him the go ahead to make his film the way he wanted. Aditya got his best friends, Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol to play the romantic lead in the film and had other artists like Amrish Puri, Anupam Kher, Parmeet Sethi and a young TV actress Mandira Bedi in other important roles. He had Anand Bakshi, his father’s favourite lyricist after Sahir Ludhianvi and the brothers, Jatin- Lalit to score the music…

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The film was shot both in India and abroad and was called “Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge”. It had a different love story which was given a fresh new life by the performances of Shah Rukh and Kajol and even all the other artists which included the veteran actress Achala Sachdev who was a part of several films made by Yash Chopra. The film was a super hit and there were people who saw the film hundreds of times. One woman, an Indian who lived in Paris had four different TV sets in her bungalow and had the film running on all the four floors and had seen it more than four hundred times. There were thousands of such cases not only in India but all over the world. It was the film which gave Aditya Chopra all the recognition and even the kind of success even his father had not seen…

It was with this money made by the films that Aditya bought a piece of land and planned to build Yash Raj Films Studios. When he told his father about the gift he wanted to present him (the studio), his father was moved to tears of joy and I remember how the father had written a poem in which he said that it was time for him to make way for his sons (Aditya and Uday) to take over from him…

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The film has been running at the Maratha Mandir in Mumbai ever since it was released and has completed a record shattering run of more than a thousand weeks. Yash Chopra is dead. Amrish Puri is also dead and so are Anand Bakshi and Achala Sachdev and the team of music directors Jatin-Lalit have split. Shah Rukh is the Badshah of the industry, Kajol is married to Ajay Devgn and makes an appearance once in a way, Aditya has taken over as the head of YRF. The times have changed, the whole industry has changed, the kinds of films made have also changed but DDLJ continues to be attracting people of three generations to the Maratha Mandir. It is now the Indian film which has run for the longest period of time, the only other film which has run for a thousand weeks is a Chinese film…

The team of Aditya, Shah Rukh and Kajol are planning to celebrate this major achievement in a unique way, it will also be time to celebrate the life and films of one of the greatest Indian filmmakers, Dr. Yash Chopra…

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Tags: Bollywood, Bollywood News, Bollywood Updates, Television, Telly News, Badshah, Memories, Shah Rukh Khan, Shah Rukh Khan Birthday Story