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A Chance Encounter!

Ravi V. Chhabra relates how he met and was impressed by the modesty of Shahrukh (HINDUSTAN TIMES/Hard Copy).

Driving down to the Sariska wildlife reserve, I could never have envisaged meeting one of the most sought after actors in the industry at present  Shahrukh Khan of the Baazigar, Darr fame.

En route, the old wizened villager gave me directions for the sprawling mansion-turned hotel/resor, the Sariska Palace, my destination, not it's name but by the fact that the big Bollywood stars were lodged there. The crew had assembled there just for the shooting of the film Karan Arjun, being directed by Rakesh Roshan. The cast includes other big names like Salman Khan, Amrish Puri, Mamta Kulkarni and Raakhee.

The next evening, after the actors returned from shooting, I went to meet Shahkukh in his room. After a few knocks, Shahrukh opened the door and asked me to come in. in our conversation, I learnt that he had graduated from the same college as me in Delhi (Hans Raj college) and his first love was acting in theatre and that he came into films by chance.

I told him that I'd liked his role in Baazigar and he'd done justice to it. About his anti-hero roles in two consecutive hit films (Baazigar, Darr) depicting vengeance, he said "I do not have any moral, ethical and or social obligation to the audience. I do my best in each act. I am not vengeful. In fact, he says, "If you see Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman and Deewana, you'd probably say I'm a romantic, but romance for me is not a candlelit dinner or sending flowers". Expressing his views on love, Shahrukh says candidly that he loved his mother a lot and even now weeps when he's reminded of her. He says he loves his wife as much and also his dog, who is like a family member. "If somebody were to ask me the definition of love, I can tell you if we knew the meaning it wouldn't be there, it's a feeling- a very powerful feeling."
Shahrukh's greatest inspiration had been his parents. He doesn't have any idols but he admires Peter Sellers and Michael J. Fox. He admits that he borrowed from Dilip Kumar, Amitabh Bachchan, and Naseruddin Shah and, in fact, most serious actors. "They are all great and one has a whole range to learn from them". 

Shahrukh says he loves overacting. "If you can overact and yet retain interest of the audience, that's a real achievement." He attributes his success to team work and instinctiveness. Shahrukh didn't shy from self criticism either. "I know I speak fast and have a limited number of emotions to offer, but I'm learning. I am doing my best love me or leave me. I know today I might be on top but I will definitely hit the bottom too".

On his success, he says, success or failure isn't important. I must enjoy what I do. Meanwhile, a group of his admires rush into the room and I'm forced to bid goodbye to an actor whose modesty is intact despite his meteoric ascent.
(Hindustan Times, 30th January 1993. Available in hard copy only.)