‘A superstar will only be…’

He may be called the King of Romance now but Shah Rukh Khan had no aspirations of being a romantic hero when he started. The actor wanted to follow into the footsteps of his idol Amitabh Bachchan and become an action superstar. But along the way, something changed. Something that began with him accepting Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, the ultimate romantic film.

In Netflix’s new docu series The Romantics, filmmaker Aditya Chopra reveals how he convinced Shah Rukh Khan to ditch his idea of doing action films and sign DDLJ. The four-part series, which released on February 14, deals with the cinema of Yash Chopra and Yash Raj Films. During the second episode, Aditya Chopra recalled how DDLJ – his directorial debut came into being.

The filmmaker said that he and his then assistant – filmmaker Karan Johar – narrated DDLJ to Shah Rukh, who was dumbfounded, because he had discussed an action film with them six months prior. Even though he didn’t want to do the film, he was unable to bring himself to say no to Aditya Chopra. The filmmaker recalled, “For at least a month or two, I think, I kept going every week or every two or three days to different sets of his. He was always very nice to me but he was not committing.”

Chopra said that he soon reached the edge of his patience and thought about moving on. But an incident on the sets of Shah Rukh’s film Trimurti changed everything. Chopra recalled that after the shot, many people met Shah Rukh for autographs, which included an 80-year-old woman who told the actor that she liked him but didn’t like the fact that he dies in every film and there is blood and gore around him. Till then, Shah Rukh’s biggest hits had seen him in either negative roles (Darr and Baazigar) or in action roles (Deewana and Karan Arjun).

Fifteen minutes later, recalled Chopra, he took Shah Rukh into a corner and addressed his hesitation in signing DDLJ. “You might choose not to do this, which is completely fine,” Chopra said he told Shah Rukh, adding, “But I would advise you that don’t shut your doors on never doing a love story. Because in this country, a superstar will only be that person who will be every mother’s son, every sister’s brother, every college girl’s fantasy. And what you just heard that woman say was that there is a lot of love she is giving you but there is a different persona that she sees and is not getting.” The next time the two met, Shah Rukh agreed to do the film.

DDLJ also starred Kajol, Amrish Puri, Farida Jala, Anupam Kher, Parmeet Sethi, and Mandira Bedi, along with a cameo by Karan Johar, who was one of the assistant directors on the film. The film made over Rs 200 crore and was, at that point in time, the second-highest-grossing Indian film ever. It solidified Shah Rukh as the numero uno young actor in Bollywood and paved the way for other successes in the romance genre for him over the years.

Originally published at www.dnaindia.com

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