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I am not an insider: Shah Rukh

Writes Shah Rukh Khan about Bollywood’s evolution, his first film and the era of the Chopras, Ghais, Mehras and Desais... in a foreword for film critic Anupama Chopra’s book, First Day, First Show. Here are some excerpts...

entertainment Updated: May 21, 2011 19:45 IST

When you make a film, if you are an insider, you’re usually the last person to know that your film is not right. But when you are an outsider, you have a little more objectivity. I think a part of my success is that I am naturally objective. I am not an insider....

I still recall my first brush with Bollywood. I had come to Mumbai with my mother and sister. At that point of time, we were looking for a groom for my sister. It so happened that around the time she was to come here to see a boy, I was being called here to do a film. I got to know later that the person my mom met had told her that she would have to pay money if I was to become a star. Of course, that film didn’t happen.

One of the many reasons was that I was told that when I will be introduced in the press, it would be said that I am someone uneducated, from a backward area. It would be said that I was a guy who had come from the galis (lanes) of Jama Masjid to become the hero of the masses. But I would have to dress up a little better than what I did. It was very strange that my education was to be toned down, while my dress sense was to be toned up. That’s how Bollywood was...

SRKThere were three shifts a day. I shot seventy-two hours without sleep

The working method was something like this: you met a producer who normally was not in the limelight. He would just come and hang around. Then there was a director and a lot of singing and dancing. There were three shifts a day. I have shot seventy-two hours without a wink of sleep. I have shot for Karan Arjun; I have shot for Oh Darling! Yeh Hai India, and this was the accepted way of working...

Slowly, over the years, the change began. I don’t know if I led it, though I did become a part of it. So much has changed as the years have gone by. Banks have come in. The retail section is more organised, whether it’s through multiplexes or single-screen theatres. It’s a brave new world. But sometimes I wonder if we have lost a certain madness, a certain rawness and passion. Because I know of people who would become bankrupt making a film and have had to sell their house. I remember Yash Johar had put his house on the line for Duplicate. It would have been sold if Kuch Kuch Hota Hai hadn’t become a success. So there was this madness in all that chaos. Maybe that is why money also used to come from shady sources...

‘It was the time of the old guard: the Chopras, Ghais, Mehras and Desais’
The evolution of Bollywood had three phases. The first was when I joined the industry. It was unorganised, there were no stories, the monies were unorganised and shootings could happen or not happen. There were days when you would come on the sets, and there were days when you wouldn’t come on the sets. Nobody would show up. I have also done it. We all did three shifts, so you would wake up somewhere and say, abhi late ho gaya. There were no mobiles, so there was no way to even track someone. It was the time of the old guard: the Chopras, the Ghais, the Mehras and the Manmohan Desais. These directors were actually a little more methodical.

In the second phase, stars started doing one film at a time. I was working with Aditya Chopra and Karan Johar. We became what is now derogatorily called a clique. The younger directors started working with fully written scripts. You knew what the scene was, and what had been changed or rewritten.

The third phase started when the scriptwriters came in. Writing softwares like Final Draft came in. I was one of the first few to actually start using it. Everybody started writing: ‘Cut to’, ‘scene no.’ and ‘so-and-so’...

First Published: May 21, 2011 14:07 IST