Shah Rukh's Decade Shah Rukh's Decade

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Shah Rukh's Decade

'Extremely experimental, immensely talented'

Whoever said rules are meant to be broken must have had Shah Rukh Khan in mind. He broke every rule in the Bollywood book. He challenged the conventional leading-man stereotype and got away with it. He is the hero who played the villain and walked away with awards and public adulation.

Talent? Attitude? Luck? Twist of fate? Charisma? Who knows? The only thing one knows for sure is that he came, he acted, he conquered. All on his own terms.

At the same time, the man has remained somewhat of an enigma. So decided to speak to those who know him best. And this is what they had to say...

Yash Johar (producer, confidant)

Is it only 10 years? May he continue for another 40 years. He has been a very big success and it is an achievement that he's worked with the biggest producers and in all kinds of films. And he shall continue to do so and we shall continue to work with him.

Juhi Chawla (co-star, co-producer, close pal)

Juhi Chawla Shah Rukh is one of the biggest stars ever. Everyone the world over loves him as a romantic hero. I've known him as a person over the years and he's very bright and intelligent and very, very hardworking. And he's very passionate about his films. He keeps going even when others have stopped out of exhaustion. He just goes on and on. That's what keeps him ahead. He's very normal -- he doesn't behave like a star. He doesn't have an attitude on the sets. He can be very helpful. He will keep rehearsing with you and do take upon take without getting bored, if that is what is required.

He's very one-to-one with people. It's really a pleasure working with him and, of course, the best quality he has is that he keeps you so totally entertained on the sets. He keeps you laughing all the time. He has a very funny sense of humour. It lightens the work atmosphere.

Prahlad Kakkar (ad film-maker)

He's a boy wonder. I admire him tremendously. Look at the way he looks. Could you ever imagine, in your wildest imagination about 10 years ago, that this little launda from Delhi, with this little serial behind him, would become so big? And not only make it so big in the conventional sense, but make it big doing every single role he could lay his hands on -- villain, hero, anything?

I just saw Josh yesterday and he was awesome. He had so much violence in his body language that you felt it was a role designed for him.

He's a terrific guy, very professional. But then I must admit that Aamir and Govinda (about whom I'd heard horror stories) were very professional too.

Shah Rukh is amazing -- he's gone into production, into setting up his own company, into post-production. And yet everybody thought he was a lightweight when he first came in.

They thought he was a financial lightweight, a lightweight in the talent department... Look where he's reached. I'm sure that, in another five years, he'll surprise everyone in wherever he's going.

Priya Gill (co-star)

Priya Gill Besides Mansoor Khan's films, I'd seen all of Shah Rukh's films too when I did Josh. I never dreamt that we'd ever work together. I was a fan and never thought I'd be on the same side of the fence as him. Working with him was a great experience because he never made me feel I was a newcomer. Even when I did make some faux pax, he was very reassuring. I haven't met too many people who go out of their way to make everyone comfortable.

He was never THE STAR, he was always a person. It was Shah Rukh the person, relating to Priya the person. There are so many trying situations we face that it's often difficult to smile, but Shah Rukh never lost his cool. I will always remember how he treated me like Priya the kid, and was very, very considerate.

Not too many people have this quality. I wish they did because it makes working together so much nicer. I know that if ever I'm asked to do a film with him again and I'm tied up, I'd do anything to make time to work with him. I'm glad I got this opportunity to act opposite him and any time he asks me I'll be ready to work with him again.

Dalip Tahil (co-star)

Dalip Tahil I've worked with him right from his first film Deewana, in which I played his father. Then came Baazigar, his big success, in which I played Madan Chopra, the main villain. Then came Darr and Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani.

He's achieved a lot in his 10 years. He has certainly added a high voltage style of acting to the repertoire of the industry. He's a very charismatic star and has a very good presence on the screen. He's very good to work with in the sense that he's very contributing, very alive, very energetic.

Suchitra Krishnamoorthi (co-star)

Suchitra Krishnamoorthi What can I say about Shah Rukh? I think his greatest achievement is the energy, effervescence and youthfulness he brought to the Hindi screen. Though I never thought him to be a great actor (say in the class of Aamir or Naseer), his energy is unparalleled and his sex appeal unselfconscious. This, coupled with a natural intelligence and breeding, make him exciting to watch on screen. He's like the guy one would have known in college or in one's own neighbourhood.

I also believe that Shah Rukh's greatest asset is his wife, Gauri.

As for my experience of working with him, it was all right. Like all newcomers, I was nervous and insecure. And like all stars on the ascent, he was rather self-absorbed. So, other than our scenes, we did not have too much of an interaction. But it was pleasant enough, nevertheless.

K Shashilal Nair (director)

K Shashilal Nair I think his greatest achievement is the fact that he's not done more than 30 films in 10 years. Anyone else would have done 200. All his films have been such that, barring one or two, all of them can be remembered. Ninety-eight per cent of his films are remarkable.

Shah Rukh's greatest plus point is that he's very mehenti (hardworking). And if one remains hardworking even after 10 years, that says a lot. I'm doing One Two Ka Four with him at present. I think the amount of interest he puts into every project is amazing.

Twinkle Khanna Twinkle Khanna (co-star)

He is one person who started doing the unconventional things that are extremely conventional now. He's extremely experimental and immensely talented.

Ramesh Sippy (film-maker)

Ramesh Bhatt I think Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman was his first film, though Deewana was his first release. He has definitely contributed to Hindi cinema -- there's no question about it. He changed the face of the Hindi film hero by playing a villain in two very important films -- Darr and Baazigar.

While some heroes have started life as villains, that wasn't the kind of villain he played. His first film was Deewana, a proper hero's role. Subsequently also, he played the leading man. Then, suddenly, he played the villain who was as acceptable as the hero. Which I don't think any other hero has done.

He started off on a very different note, but has gone on to work even as a normal hero with films like Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge -- two examples of a restrained performance. And he can pull both kinds of performances off very well.

True, there have obviously been certain films that haven't struck the right note. But through each of his roles, the one thing that comes across very strongly is the energy in his performances. And it's not always wrongly placed.

Another wonderful thing about him is that he allows other artistes to play their roles without trying to steal their show. He wins in the process. By doing that, the film gets made in the right spirit and everybody gets their due. He has the power to manipulate the film to veer in his direction, but he doesn't do that.

His plus point is that he can play any kind of role and I think he's shown his versatility -- from playing the villain to doing light roles with a lot of panache.

On the sets too, he's always charged. And it comes through. Actors all over the world have given some mediocre performances, but Shah Rukh has given every project his best. Which is a very fine quality. I enjoyed working with him in Zamaana Deewana.

Mahesh Bhatt (film-maker)

What an innings he's played!! And he's still very much in form. You can't count people like Shah Rukh out. Irrespective of the flavour that will keep changing, there is an inexhaustible energy in him. He is a survivor and he's a man who has yet to achieve his potential.

Lata Khubchandani

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