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The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Shah Rukh’s success sutra
celebrity circus

With 2007 entering its last quarter, the one name that’s cropping up in the nominations for best actor of the year is that of Chak De! India coach, Kabir Khan alias Shah Rukh Khan. There will once again be a Bachchan vs SRK battle because Abhishek’s performance in Guru will also be in the fray.

But with AB Junior following his wife around the globe, the spotlight has swung away from his profession while Shah Rukh has followed up Chak De! with an energetic double role in Om Shanti Om. At age 42 when most other heroes are busy buttoning up, Shah Rukh has accepted the challenge of going shirtless and building 6-pack abs (he blushed when I told him I wanted to see it), even if he tired himself out in the bargain. This really means that the actor can do anything once he puts his mind to it. So he can kick the butt too — if he wants to (he doesn’t, at the moment, as he continues to puff like a chimney).

Here’s a little secret. SRK has a personal booster up his sleeve when he really wants to go all out and achieve something.

There is a little prayer, a chant that Shah Rukh repeats whenever he passionately goes for the kill. Remember the scene in Chak De! India where India loses to Australia and a down-in-the-dumps Kabir Khan, dripping wet in the rain, sits on a bench, clutches his medal and chants' Shah Rukh repeats with fervour, ‘Nasrun minnallahe wah fatahun kareeb’ to gain confidence and turn the tide in his favour in Chak De! That line was not written by producer Adi Chopra, director Shimit Amin or writer Jaideep Sahni. ‘Nasrun minnallahe wah fatahun kareeb’ is what Shah Rukh learnt from his father. It’s a confidence-boosting chant he has taught his kids and close costars like Sushmita Sen and Juhi Chawla. Juhi once disclosed that when SRK teaches the prayer, he chants the line and blows gently over the other person’s head. For himself, he chants to spur him on, he slogs to achieve and he wins.

Will he win over Diwali rival Saawariya' Coincidentally, Sanjay Leela Bhansali is Om Shanti Om director Farah Khan’s neighbour. So it’s going to be a clash in the neighbourhood. Farah admits, “Of course I would’ve loved to have a solo release. Left to myself I wouldn’t want to release Om Shanti Om on the same day as even Buddha Mar Gaya. And Saawariya is a huge competitor. It’s a Sanjay Leela Bhansali film with Salman Khan, Rani Mukherjee and two really much-awaited newcomers.”

Ranbir Kapoor has all the flamboyance of his famous khandaan. Dad Rishi Kapoor had it during Bobby when he handled female attention with panache. One fan had even asked Rishi to autograph her bra! When Rishi was dating Neetu and there was an unfounded whisper that they’d have a secret wedding, the actor had snorted in retort, “I’m a Kapoor. We’re loud and flamboyant. The day I get married I’ll shout about it from the rooftops.” Which is precisely what he did.

When Neetu was expecting Ranbir and she went into labour, Rishi had driven her to hospital, asking her several times on the way, “Are you sure you’re in labour'” After all those filmi scenes of over-the-top labour pains, Neetu was so calm and normal that he couldn’t believe she was ready to deliver. Ranbir arrived and brought instant joy to Raj Kapoor who beamed that it was the best gift he’d received that year.

Neetu may have remained calm during Ranbir’s delivery but the noise around his birth as an actor is fast reaching a crescendo. And Ranbir, like a true Kapoor, is not shying away, he’s already basking in the attention.

While the box-office watch is centred around Om Shanti Om and Saawariya, a personal tip is, look for Yashraj’s Laaga Chunari Mein Daag. The music has a superb sound (Shantanu Moitra) with Shubha Mudgal doing a full-throated job of the title number — maybe not the chartbusting variety but definitely music for the discerning.

Importantly, watch out for this predominantly Bengali team led by director Pradeep (Parineeta) Sarkar. The cast includes Jaya Bachchan, Rani Mukherjee and Konkona Sen Sharma. The KANK and Tara Rum Pum Pum failures will be history if Rani returns with Laaga Chunari Mein Daag and follows it up with Saawariya. Bring on the Bongs!

Bharathi S. Pradhan is managing editor of Movie Mag International

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