Bollywood Buzz

How Shah Rukh Khan bagged Karan Arjun

Rakesh Roshan’s daughter Sunaina has penned a coffee table book on her famous father called To Dad, With Love, with lots of anecdotes and pictures from his life.

Besides the family itself, Sunaina has also spoken to film personalities who have worked closely with her dad.

In the first part, Shah Rukh Khan revealed some interesting details about how he bagged his first film with the Roshans, King Uncle.

In the second part, Shah Rukh talks about his biggest hit with Rakesh Roshan, Karan Arjun.

We also present some beautiful and rare pictures of Rakesh Roshan with his family, friends and on the sets of his movies.

Extreme commitment to his work and playing his role as captain of the ship are also things SRK admired in Dad.

On the sets of Koyla (1997), they were shooting at a punishing temperature of minus 5 degrees Celsius and the entire unit was shivering except for Dad who wasn’t even wearing a thick jacket.

SRK asked Dad why he wasn’t feeling cold when everyone else was clearly affected by it.

Dad replied that he too was freezing but could not afford to show it because if he started shivering, it would affect the whole unit and they would all start reacting to the weather. He couldn’t allow that to happen as the objective of the shoot would be defeated if everyone did not give 100 per cent to the work and focus on it.

Dad then told SRK that if he was finding it unbearable, he could pack up for the day. SRK was stunned by Dad’s rare level of commitment and dedication.

Shah Rukh has watched Dad a lot and has many interesting observations to make. “He believes that at the work place you have to be the boss and you can’t have too much laughter.

Everybody takes him very seriously but if you meet him after work, you’ll find that he has a great sense of humour,” he analyses accurately.

He has also noticed that Dad’s face mirrors a variety of emotions when he is behind the camera.

He is so engrossed in his work that his passion for every scene is clearly displayed on his face.

Dad has a way of shouting ‘Cut it” with such unbridled joy that it makes every actor feel like he has just given his best shot.

One day, SRK asked him why he said, ‘Cut it’ in that style.

Dad explained to him that actors are always insecure and after many re-takes if the response from the director is not encouraging, it could demoralise them.

So whatever the quality of the ‘take,’ Dad’s excited ‘Cut it!’ makes the actor feel he is performing well.

“The director knows that his actor has reached his maximum capacity and this is going to be the best (shot) that he would have to work with,” said Dad to SRK.

My interactions with Shah Rukh Khan lead me to believe that he puts immense value on and cherishes the work he has done with Dad.

He is also humble about accepting that he learnt a lot from Dad, “When we were shooting a particular scene for Karan Arjun, I took a break and looked away from Kajol. Rakeshji came up and asked me why I had looked away.

I told him that there was no particular reason, I just felt like looking away.

That was the time he explained to me very patiently, ‘When you look somewhere, to me it feels like something is distracting you or that you are looking at other characters,’ I said, ‘No, I come from theatre and I would like to do the shot like that.’

He told me that it created an awkward empty space on screen.

Unlike theatre, on screen, out of sight is out of mind.

He elaborated, ‘A lot of things may be running through your mind but they are not in sight and film is a visual medium.’

All this was clearly a learning experience for me. I still tend to look away in some scenes, I still do things which are different but his explanation was a big lesson for me as a new actor.

When I make a film, I believe that it’s always through the eyes of the director for his audience and it is never through my eyes for my audience. So if a director tells me that I should act in a certain way, I learn from it.”

SRK astutely observes that Dad makes, “The most complex films in the simplest way.”

A befitting example would be Karan Arjun, which remains one of Dad’s favourite films. He had a tough time finalizing the cast, and the subject matter was considered by many to be too fantastical and far too outdated to work in the mid-90s.

The challenge before him was to make a convincing film on an implausible theme and to cast it so perfectly that he could put across an intricate story in a relatable way.

But before he could go on the floor, Dad once again encountered his usual problem of fixing the right actors for the lead roles.

Initially, he had signed Ajay Devgan and Shah Rukh Khan but both actors wanted to switch roles and go against their respective images — SRK wanted to do all the action, Ajay wanted to romance!

Dad then decided on Salman Khan and Aamir. He got Salman’s dates but Aamir couldn’t give him dates for the next six months.

Meanwhile, SRK returned to the film and agreed to do the romantic role.

So Dad went to Aamir and told him that he had got Salman’s dates and would like to start shooting without any further delay. Aamir accepted the explanation and opted out of the film.

Finally, Dad got the best that any filmmaker could have hoped for — Shah Rukh and Salman to play Karan Arjun.

The film became a blockbuster and went on to acquire cult film status.


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