The crowd outside ‘Mannat’ continue to swell with every passing day. They are still tremendously thrilled when they are photographed outside Shahrukh’s mansion even when they are convinced that he is not going to be inside. On November 2,2019, his birthday the crowd outside was even larger than the crowd at the nearby Mt Mary fair or the crowd outside both the houses of Salman Khan and three times the crowds outside ‘Jalsa’, Amitabh’s bungalow in Juhu on Sunday evening which has only been growing for the last thirty-five years. And all this despite the fact that Shah Rukh Khan has not had a single recent release at the box-office after his films like “Raees”,“When Harry Met Sejal”,“Fan” and “Zero” did not come anywhere near the expectations of all his earlier films had raised. There have been speculations rife about what King Khan would do next and if there is one class of people who still have all the love, admiration and respect for King Khan and are working overtime to find suitable subjects and characters for him to play in his future films, it is those masses who throng and haunt ‘Mannat’ and see King Khan in their 70mm dreams. They have not stopped dreaming of seeing their King in characters they would love to see.
For a long time since 2018, there was talk about SRK taking on the challenge of playing the role Amitabh Bachchan had played in Raj N Sippy’s “Satte Pe Satta”, made in the eighties, but many who had seen the original could not identify Amitabh’s character with Shah Rukh and the idea was dropped with or without whimper.
Then the industry was said to be rife with talk about SRK playing the role Amitabh Bachchan played in Aaditya Chopra’s “Mohabbatein” as the head of a Gurukul and SRK himself played a double teacher. But, this story was also scotched.
Even as SRK was busy enjoying the luxury of watching his children, Suhana, Aryan and Abraham grow up, a luxury he said he never had the time to enjoy, there were makers who had fertile imaginations to toy with the idea of making a film with SRK as the father and his own children as his children in a film, but it was a far-fetched idea SRK would not even give a thought to if he was offered the world.
There was a serious suggestion to allow his character as a ‘Fauji’ in a serial for DD made forty years ago to grow up and play a senior officer in the armed forces, but this idea was also shot down in the air, it seems.
But the most ambitious idea I came across was from the senior seventy year old doctor whose name was Dr Shah. He met me every evening at the poolside restaurant of the Sun-n-Sand Hotel and over hot tea and steaming hot ‘pakoraas’ told me about his only ambition to make a film or at least sell his script to ‘Shah Rukh Khan and only Shah Rukh Khan’. He kept showing me any number of stark white sheets of paper on which what was written he said where some hand-written documents written in the handwriting of Mahatma Gandhi himself. He said, he had a script which was woven round the documents and that the film could not be made without Shah Rukh Khan. The said Dr Shah kept making me all kinds of tempting offers, a happy amount for introducing him to Shah Rukh Khan, another big amount to arrange a narration of his script for SRK and finally a two bedroom flat and a big sum when and if SRK agreed to do a film based on his scripts. It may sound funny and even ridiculous, but the good doctor who followed me like a white spectre once saw Subhash Ghai walking towards me and I forgot to introduce him to the good doctor. He was so furious that he first cancelled the order he had placed for the tea and ‘pakoraas’, he then cancelled the small amount he was getting me from a NGO for my physiotherapy and finally, thank God he realised that I had no contact with Shah Rukh Khan whatsoever and was savouring his tea and ‘pakodaas’ without any reason. When last heard, he was not looking for me, he was looking for Mrs Karuna Badwal, Shah Rukh’s present general manager whose name some good man from the industry had given him, not for just tea and pakodaas’, but for the price.
As I come to writing the end of this piece, there is news for me. A reliable source tells me that Shah Rukh has finally signed a film after zero and it is a film with Rajkumar Hirani. And before I can put a full stop to this piece, the same reliable source tells me that the news is still unconfirmed.
What, Oh what do I then tell a young woman Manjula from Dubai who has been consistently making mannats to get some good news about ‘my Shah Rukh’ signing his next film?