Shah Rukh Khan and Akshay Kumar have taken their quest to be number one to new heights — promoting themselves through the films they produce.
Playing a superstar in his home production Billu, Shah Rukh has flooded the film with references to ‘King Khan’ — two words seen on bumper stickers, placards and King Khan’s own coat (pictured above).
This might just be Shah Rukh’s way of putting his stamp on a role first offered to Akshay Kumar. That information is something the film’s hero Irrfan Khan let slip talking to HT City. “Director Priyadarshan had at first offered Shah Rukh’s role to Akshay,” Irrfan says. “It was very professional of Shah Rukh to take up the role and give it his best.”
Shah Rukh admits, “Billu Barber (the earlier title) was offered to Akshay Kumar, but he turned it down. Priyan asked me if I would do the 10-day role in the film. I told him that I would not only act in it but even produce it.”
In the race to self-promotion, at least, Akki has pipped SRK to the post. In Chandni Chowk to China, the title track, a rap number, thus praised its lead star: “Acting karne chale vaise hazaron/ Badsaah ek, baaki sare fail.”
This was considered by many to be a dig at Shah Rukh. Akshay performed the song at an award show, too. Now this SRK avatar is seen as a ‘fitting reply’.
Filmmaker Vipul Shah, a friend of Akshay’s, says SRK plays up King Khan in Billu because “that’s how the media look at him”. The same goes for Akshay, “who had become ‘King Kumar’ after Singh is Kinng”. Singh of Kinng director Anees Bazmi adds, “The days of modesty are gone. If someone is number one, they are proclaiming it loudly.”