For SRK fans and admirers, it doesn’t take more than the dimpled smile, witty humour, and signature quips. But, did you know that football was Shah Rukh Khan’s first love, or that it was pure destiny that pushed him towards acting? Starting with shows like Circus and Fauji, the Delhi boy soon became the Badshah of Bollywood. Curiously, this second choice syndrome seemed to serve him well given that, even for Fauji, he wasn’t the first choice.
Journalist, film writer and ocassional actor Mushtaq Sheik explores the life and times of King Khan in his book, Shah Rukh Can, a personal account that looks into the different dimensions of the actor’s personality, the man behind the star. We dove right into it and uncovered some pretty inspiring stories from the superstar’s life from the 90s, back when he was just another Delhi boy.
St Stephen’s College rejected admission to the Badshah of Bollywood
Shah Rukh Khan studied at St Columba’s school and believed that St Stephen’s, Delhi’s premier college, was the logical next step; destiny, however, had other plans. A determined Shah Rukh, along with his parents, headed for the interview with the principal of St Stephen’s, armed with all his certificates. The results were rather unexpected.
I did not get admitted to the so-called best institute and the principal was rather rude to me when I showed him my awards and certificates. It was my first brush with the realities of the world. You are nobody in the larger scheme of things. The best student of the top college in Delhi was not good enough to be part of the best college in Delhi.
Shah Rukh eventually went on to graduate from Hansraj College in Delhi.
In fact, he topped Hansraj College with the highest marks in Economics Honours
Shah Rukh decided to switch from science to economics during his graduation, and also made sure that his marks were comparable to the highest marks in the city’s so-called top universities. That year, Hans Raj joined the elite group of colleges because of their top scorer in Economics, who was none other than Shah Rukh Khan.
King Khan was not the first choice as Fauji lead
Colonel Raj Kapoor, the director of the TV show, was impressed and agreed to give Shah Rukh a small role in Fauji. But when the colonel’s son who was to play Abhimanyu Rai, backed out, he asked Shah Rukh to join. The lead in the series had originally been the elder brother, Vikram Rai. However, as the series began, Abhimanyu Rai became the more important character. Colonel Raj Kapoor says:
As we saw the rushes, we realized the camera simply loved the boy and his character was modified to become the lead. So, I didn’t choose Shah Rukh Khan; the camera did.
Theater was his first love
Shah Rukh initially thought he would make ad films and decided to do his masters in Mass Communication from Jamia Millia Islamia. Interestingly, thought, it was the world of theater that proved to be his first teacher.
Dancing, I learnt here in Bollywood; Fighting, I have learnt here. But body language, usage of space, how to throw, to project, comic timing – that is because of my theatre upbringing. But I am a great fantastic accident of being the right person at the right place at the right time. That’s the description of my success.
In his first professional play, Shah Rukh only had one line
Shah Rukh never planned to be an actor overnight. Here’s an instance from his first professional play that’s worth sharing.
In my first professional play, I had to say one line, ‘Lady, I have a message for you.’ I would rehearse it 150 million times and I would believe that the whole theatre of 600 people, fathers, mothers and daughters were waiting just to hear this line. Believe me; that moment was made for me. I never felt small; I never felt small doing it. Barry John had taught us that there are no small roles, only small actors.
Shah Rukh did not complete his Master’s at Jamia
Shah Rukh did not complete his masters as the professors refrained him from taking the final exams because of his short attendance. According to the book, they were not happy with his involvement with theatre, television, and the production work he would do for short films outside the college. Quoting Shah Rukh: “Attendance was not the issue as I had done an extra project. So I felt very disturbed.” He further said:
Their logic was inexplicable. They felt everything was going rather smooth for me and I should face a few hardships. Being requested off the college was their way of preparing me for the real world. I packed my bags and decided I would learn how to make films and only go back to that institute when they called me to give a guest lecture on filmmaking.
King Khan’s first encounter with Bombay was not all that rosy
It resulted in a young actor’s futile ramblings in the heartless lanes of the city, then known as Bombay. He confessed in the book: “The first day after pack-up, I was quite crushed. I felt I was the worst actor on earth. I kept thinking that maybe I was not cut out for this”.
Apparently, he had then, in tears, shouted bitterly across Marine Drive:
I will rule this city one day.
And so he did.
All stories and quotes are extracted from Mushtaq Sheikh’s book, Shah Rukh Can. Image source