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Much ado about King Khan

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ONE FROM THE BOOK Shah Rukh Khan in a picture from the book,
ONE FROM THE BOOK Shah Rukh Khan in a picture from the book, "SRK - Still Reading Khan".

RANA SIDDIQUI

Mushtaq Shiekh's book, "SRK - Still Reading Khan" is a peep into the life of the one and only Shah Rukh Khan.

If you compare a young Shah Rukh Khan with his then young father Meer Taj Mohammad, the youngest in Khudai Khidmatgar (Servants of God) organisation of Frontier Gandhi, he was far more handsome. His charms landed him the offer of the role that Ajit did in "Mughal-e-Azam". But he turned it down because he was in love with Madhubala. He didn't know how he would handle her!Meer Taj lost his mental balance and died when King Khan was just 16. Shah Rukh's mother died after being bed-ridden for more than a month-and-a-half, in 1990. When she died, Shah Rukh locked himself in his room, and played electronic games furiously, only to break down, clinging tight to his friends a little later. The first time he had prayed in his life was to beg for her life when she was on the deathbed, but she didn't survive. Something had died in him then and there. During school days, Shah Rukh was nicknamed `Mail Train' because he won the championships in both the 200 and 400-meter races. He would have been a sports person, may be a hockey player, for he excelled in it, if his doctor had not forbidden him from taking up a career in sports after he injured his lower back. Shah Rukh met Gauri Chibba, now his wife, through a common friend. She found him ugly, and he found her charismatic. So obsessed was he with her that he would bash her up if he would find her even talking to someone. She left him thinking he wasn't serious about her and he went to Mumbai to pursue a career in films. While searching for her frantically on Mumbai roads, Shah Rukh had declared, "One day I will rule this city". Gauri's father rejected Shah Rukh as her suitor, addressing him as `wannabe Dilip Kumar'. Against parents' wishes, when she married him in a hushed nikaah, she turned Ayesha. And during their Arya Samaj wedding, Shah Rukh changed his name to Jitender Kumar Tully after the veteran actor Manoj Kumar's lesser-known name! Such interesting and heart-rending tales abound in "SRK - Still Reading Khan", a 500-page coffee table book on Shah Rukh. At 4.1 kg, the book is penned by one of the closest pals of Shah Rukh, Mushtaq Shiekh. The extremely colourful glossy tome, launched in Mumbai recently, would be released in New Delhi shortly, followed by London and the Middle East. The hardbound, published by Om Books running into several chapters from his background to wedding to school, college to film days, also takes onto account those who had criticised Khan for one reason or the other. It talks about him as "a brand equity" and his charisma overseas, his philosophy of life, his shortcomings and assets.

A sycophant's account?

Replete with both rare and seen pictures, both from his personal and professional life, the book at first sight seems a sycophant's account of King Khan. It plays with the layout dramatically. For instance, the pages that talk about his past life are done with dull colours, as if extracted from an old, tattered newspaper. If a description of journey in Ajmer Sharief is granted green backdrop, the chapter on school days has bags and juvenile drawings on it. Says Mushtaq, earlier a cub-reporter with `G' Magazine and later a script writer who shot to fame with tele-serials like "Kya Hadsa Kya Haqeeqat", "Kahin to Hoga", "Kahaani Ghar Ghar Ki" and "Kasauti Zindagi Ki", etc., "There has to be something that makes Khan so enigmatic, charismatic, adorable and successful. This very idea pressed me to pen the book on him. Moreover, I have 11 years of association with him. So he has arrived at a comfortable zone with me. I could crack into those issues which he had hardly talked of in public. Though barging into his personal life, especially writing about his mother's death was traumatic for me too," he says. He says there have been a couple of books penned on Shah Rukh earlier but "they only touched the peripheral account of his personal life.""I have gone into the details of his life unknown to the public. And as far as it being too glossy and glamorised, I would say that no one can remain unimpressed after meeting him," he claims.This `K' man believes because Sha Rukh is so popularworldwide, he couldn't have been reckless. So he had to portray him like he is in his films - larger than life. Shah Rukh's life, he says, is too well led to be portrayed like an unsung martyr. "I wanted this book to be like a movie, entertaining and at the same time, dignified. He is one whose life is being followed and admired. This book is not the be-end-and-all-end of Khan's manuscript. This is my perspective of him," he says.

Long research

The book that took him some four years of research and one year of regular interviews with both Shah Rukh and Gauri, apart from others, has not been read by the actor himself yet. Reveals Mushtaq, "He told me that if he reads a book penned on him, it's like listening to his own story. Nothing can be a bigger example of narcissism."Mushtaq says he is now getting offers from people to get it translated into different languages. "Currently I am meeting translators. Initially, I intended to get it translated into Marathi, Gujarati, Hindi and Urdu," he says. The book that costs Rs.2995, remains beyond the reach of many of the star's fans. Reacts Mushtaq, "I know it doesn't have a mass base. But I am working on it. My next book on him, which is in the pipeline, will be modestly priced. This book doesn't have many things about him. For example, I still haven't travelled to his first home in Pakistan. My next book will have all those aspects." Well then, it's true that he is Still Reading Khan.


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