Much as Amol Palekar would like to hide it, the fact is his much talked-about Shah Rukh Khan production, Paheli, is based on the same Rajasthani folk tale by Vijaydan Detha which avant garde director Mani Kaul had made as Duvidha in 1973. Shah Rukh confirms this fact. “Yes, Paheli is based on Vijaydan Detha’s story. I had seen Mani Kaul’s Duvidha, and liked the thought behind it. It’s a fantastic folk story of a woman who falls in love with a ghost. Just that one thought gripped me'kya hoga, kaise hoga'bhoot kaise pyar karega'”.
Incidentally, SRK had worked with Mani Kaul way back in 1991 in the earlier part of his career, in a screen adaptation of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Idiot. “It was my first non-commercial film' Paheli is done in a totally different format and mood than Mani Kaul’s Duvidha. Like Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Amol Palekar is an innovative creator.”
Paheli has special appearances by two of Shah Rukh’s most special friends. “My friends like Amitji, Juhi, Suniel Shetty have been too good to me. None of them has been given any role to talk of. But they did it just because I asked them to. I really feel Paheli is a whim of mine. I just wanted to produce something completely different. And the fact that everyone I asked went along with my idea proves how much they love me.” He then adds, “I never ask for anything wrong. But still it was really big-hearted of Amitji to agree to do the cameo.”
Shah Rukh himself makes guest appearances in two films, one of which released recently. “Yes, I’ve done cameos in two films, Kuchh Meetha Ho Jaye and Silsiilay. Both are directed by old journalist-friends, Samar Khan and Khalid Mohamed. And I can never say ‘no’ to friends.”
SRK feels they can release the film by June. He starts Karan Johar’s directorial film next. “This year I was planning to shoot three films. Karan’s and Farahs and of course this small-sweet film, Paheli. But in-between Karan’s dad died, Karan himself fell ill and his film got delayed. Now I don’t think his film will get released this year.”
He describes Farah’s film as “sweet, comic, dancing, singing, happy film called Happy New Year”. “As for Karan’s film I haven’t heard the story as yet. But Rani told me it’s very nice. I’ve been urging him to make a different film. But he shouldn’t listen to me. If any of my friends get an urge to do something different I’ll produce the film. Inshallah, if Paheli does well we will be financially equipped to do a lot of different films. I’m trying to learn about film production from my own and other filmmakers’ mistakes.”
Shah Rukh has just launched a perfume dedicated to him. “It’s called Tiger Eyes. I can understand people using my talent. But using its trappings to sell products, all I can is, I’m blessed.”