Mushtaq Shiekh cut his teeth on film journalism and went on to become a writer of movies. He
brings a journalist’s nose for facts and a screenwriter’s flair for drama to Shah Rukh Can. So
much has been written about Shah Rukh Khan (at the time of going to press, a Google search
shows up 2.1 million results in 0.28 seconds). What makes this book special is that a lot of
the material (words and pictures) is stuff that we haven’t seen before. There are some things
even Google’s search algorithms cannot find. But Mushtaq Shiekh can. Mushtaq has known Shah
Rukh for nearly as long as the rest of the world has. But unlike the rest of the world,
Mushtaq has put in guest appearances in Shah Rukh’s films (Main Hoon Na, 2004 and Om Shanti
Om, 2007), co-written the screenplay for Om Shanti Om and Billu Barber, and is also more
family than guest in the Khan’s inner circle. If Shah Rukh’s movies adorn your library and his
CDs line your music library (not to mention your iPod play lists), then your bookshelf is
incomplete without a copy of Shah Rukh Can. As they say in hard sell, this book is
unputdownable. Buy now.
I was 16, I had just finished my ICSC examination, and Anand Mahendru wanted a fat man for a
TV serial called Indradhanush. My mother thought I should audition and, to make her happy, I
agreed. Before my audition started, I saw a very serious-looking man sitting opposite me in
the same room. He had scruffy hair, had a newspaper open and was looking all over the place. I
went indide, met the director and did my thing. Then this man spoke to Anand and left. I
remember Anand telling me that he had come to decline a role offered to him.
My first thought was how could that actor, who I actually thought was so scruffy, turn down a
role? Just then another TV actor, slightly fresher looking with a well-cut face, walked in to
meet Anand. Seeing this actor, I said, “Now this is what I call an actor.” That man with
scruffy hair who had left the room was Shah Rukh Khan and the man who’d walked in later in
oblivion today. So obviously I don’t have a knack for spotting talent, and in Shah Rukh Khan,
even when I saw Deewana, I did not spot the so-called ‘spark’.
Then I met him in 1993 on the sets of Karan Arjun with my father. My father wanted to sign him
for Duplicate. In one hour, he left a big impression on me. Full of energy, full of life and
with such a tremendous sense of humour. But what I loved most about him was that when he met
my father, who was not the most successful producer at that time, he gave him all the respect
he deserved. I used to be very sensitive about how people dealt with my father. And I felt he
handled my father in the most sensitive and emotional way. It raised his bar in my head by a
Shah Rukh could have actually been two things- the biggest star in the country or a spiritual
leader. There’s no third thing he can be. He’s evolved. He’s reached some kind of nirvana in
his head already because of his thoughts and reading. Shah Rukh reads more than I think any
librarian ever has. I think he reads a book every day. His thoughts are spiritual. If he
wasn’t an actor, I can imagine millions of people sitting and listening to his thoughts on
life, humanity and everything. Shah Rukh Khan is my free art of living course, which I get
I think he makes you realize the power of goodness, which can’t be taught in any university.
No degree can give you that. No amount of work experience can impart that. His power is his
power of goodness. And everything else emanates form that.
I’ve had the good opportunity to know him, hear him, to be with him. Any kind of archived
format that can do the same would be wonderful because then more people can share the magic of
Shah Rukh Khan. Shah Rukh Can is one such book that had me spellbound. And that’s why I think
a book about a man who has so much to offer as an individual, as a family man, as a brilliant
actor is a great idea. Shah Rukh has so much to offer in terms of his thoughts, his feelings
and his emotions. If you can take a slice of him even in this book, I feel you would be that
much more blessed.
Mushtaq has shared a friendship with Shah Rukh over the years and known the Khans from very
close quarters. He has felt him in his own space and understood the nuances, which only people
who are close to him would be aware of. He has witnessed Shah Rukh’s accomplishments first
hand so who better to write that Shah Rukh Can than Mushtaq Shiekh himself.
Shah Rukh Khan is not a superstar because of his looks, or because he is the best actor we
have or even because of the energy he has of a treadmill. Shah Rukh is a superstar because of
his great connectivity. He becomes a member of your family. People don’t go to see a Shah Rukh
Khan film to watch a star perform; they go to see a family member succeed. He has the knack of
making you feel that he lives with you, that he is just an arm’s length away. And he connects
in the same way with a million people all over the world.
I don’t think he even knows how that happened. I don’t think he really worked towards it,
because you can never work towards something like this. His stardom has to do with the fact
that he becomes a part of you. There is a difference between awe and love. And he evokes love,
not awe. That’s what makes him the mega-star he is.
He’s watchable, because he’s fantastic. He’s endearing, because he delivers. Every time people
meet Shah Rukh, they say, “Kitna dubla ho gaya hai.” That’s because his aura on screen is
almost magical. He’s such a big movie man; he’s big screen guy. You can’t take that away from
him. All five-foot, nine-inches of him with scruffy hair is the biggest, widest Mount Everest
you’ll ever see on screen. Looking at him on screen, and of screen, you realize how he just
absorbs every bit of space celluloid has to offer.
I met the man almost eleven years ago when I was a cub reporter from “G” magazine. I don’t
really know when a mere acquaintance turned into friendship an when friendship turned into a
special bond. But he has always been there for me and that’s what really matters. Dates have
no value with this man because Shah Rukh comes with no expiry date. Anyone who has encountered
this phenomenon called Shah Rukh will vouch for that.
This book in my journey with the man. Call it a travelogue, call it arresting happiness in
pages, or call it an attempt to catch times passed. Call it anything you wish. The last time I
called it still reading Khan, for that’s what happens with a man like Shah Rukh. His boundless
energy has defied definitions. By the time you think you got the sum of the man he shakes
loose of the tag, and he is far ahead of you, onto new paths.
So who is the real Shah Rukh Khan? Is he the one who spends two hours in the loo because he
likes his own space? Is he the one who likes toys more than his own son does or the one who
likes toys more than his own son does or the one who says I’ll be back in five minutes and
returns five days later? Or is he the man who, when guests come to his house, spends more time
dropping them to the door than greeting them in? Does the real Shah Rukh expose his soul when
he plays with his dogs, his kids or talks to his wife? Or will you find him in the actor who’d
rather his film flops as long as he does not lose in his game of Pictionary? Does the real
Shah Rukh want to won so much space because he felt the lack of it all through his childhood,
or is his inherent need not to make a home for his family but a castle, because family is all
he actually has?
I found so many Shah Rukhs and lost so many in this process of reading him. An everlasting
dichotomy, this man never stopped to amaze me in my travels with him. This time around I
finally found one single phrase that an sum up his essence. It’s simple. Just ‘Shah Rukh
Can’. In the past two years he has astonished, exhilarated and surprised fans and friends and
won over critics. You chide him about his choices and he springs a Chak De over you. You
discuss about him being a not too good businessman and he clips you over the head with IPL.
Ergo, therefore, Shah Rukh Can. Anything he wishes. And a bit more. This current edition
reflects the sentiment; it’s an updated, refurbished and a lighter edition. The lightness is,
of course, in reference to the weight of the book. My mail box had been filled to the brim
with harassed readers complaining that they could not take Shah Rukh to bed with them. I mean
the book, what with it being nearly four kilograms and broad shouldered. Therefore, if you
want the older heavyweight version, put the book back into its slot on the bookshelf. This is
the compact, paperback version, with the complete content and some more.
Whatever your claim on this man, one thing is for sure: in the pages that you are going to
turn, you are in good company.
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