The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Tongue between Khan & Tolly

Darjeeling, Dec. 23: The Emir of Bollywood cannot help but give Tollywood a miss.

Despite nudges from filmmaker Rituparno Ghosh, Shah Rukh said he would not act in Bengali films. The reason: he is not quite comfortable with Bengal’s language.

“Even though my friend Rituparno has been insisting for some time that I move over to Tollywood, I don’t think I will. I am not very good at the language,” the star said, wrapping up his shoots for Main Hoon Na, a home production.

As Shah Rukh prepares to leave the hill town for Mumbai tomorrow at the end of his three-week hectic shooting for the film, his parting shot might leave the Bengali filmdom feeling a bit let down, especially when the likes of Aishwarya Rai are showing an interest in Tollywood. But then, King Khan always thinks and decides for himself, without prompting.

“I don’t want to do films in a language I am not confident in,” the actor said, with a shake of his head.

But Ghosh won’t give up so easily. For the filmmaker, a movie starring Khan need not be only in Bengali.

“I would definitely like to work with Shah Rukh, but for a Hindi or an English film,” Ghosh said. He said he was aware that the Bollywood star was “not comfortable” with Bengali.

“We did discuss working together and I know that he is not comfortable with the language. In fact, he does not seem keen to experiment with films made in different languages,” the filmmaker said in Calcutta.

Tollywood may have failed to touch the actor. But Darjeeling, which rocketed him to stardom through Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman in the early nineties, surely has. And he moaned the lack of efforts to plug the scenic hill station, which he equated with Switzerland, as a possible venue for filming.

“Darjeeling is one of the most beautiful places in the world but the only problem is it takes time to get here,” Shah Rukh said. “But still, I am sure people in the film industry will come here on chartered flights if it gets publicised properly.”

He said countries like the Maldives and Malaysia had drawn Bollywood, mainly because of the “vigorous marketing of the places by the respective governments”.

The envoys from those countries routinely met the industry people, urging them to visit their countries for shooting.

“Once we are there, they go out of the way to help us. We never have to look after things like getting road permits, which are very important,” he said. “The people in charge of culture department should do the same o promote these areas.”

Although Shah Rukh will leave Darjeeling tomorrow, some of the cast and crew will stay on for another week to complete the shooting of the Rs 25-crore film, being directed by Farah Khan.

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