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Last Updated 18.04.2019 | 8:23 PM IST
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The people who helped a ‘Badshah’, Shah Rukh Khan to take his first few steps

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He was just another young actor trying to make it in the theatre circuit of Delhi with a million dreams dancing in his young eyes. He had worked as an actor in some important plays and videos. But he had a long way to go and didn’t know the way to go where he dreamt of reaching.

There were people who saw the immense talent in him and joined him in his walk towards an unknown future.

It was the guru of acting Barry John who took interest in him and trained him in the basics and the finer nuances of acting and the young Shah Rukh Khan followed him like a genuine disciple and was groomed to face and fight his way to a future Barry John was sure he would rule…

It was a writer and filmmaker who was not so big a name, Dinesh Lakhanpal who cast him as the hero of a film based on the feast of Easter which marked the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. His performance was noticed…

It was the veteran filmmaker from Mumbai, Lekh Tandon who had made some of the biggest films in his sixty year old career who saw the talent in Shah Rukh Khan and cast him as the hero of the TV serial he made, ‘Dariya Dil’ and people saw a bright future for him…

It was a retired colonel of the army Raj Bharati who was a follower of Bhagwaan Rajneesh who cast him as a young and dynamic soldier in his serial ‘Fauji’ which brought him the kind of recognition that made him a name and a face to be talked about in all the right circles that mattered…

It was the Mirza brothers (Akhtar and Saeed) who cast him in a major serial like ‘Circus‘ which changed the course of his life. He was now a household name because in the times when ‘Circus’ was made, there were no other channels except Doordarshan on which the serial had made a grand impact. His popularity had reached all the big filmmakers of Mumbai and there was a clamour to find him and cast him in films to be made in Mumbai.

It was Hema Malini who took the first step to find him when she needed a new and young hero for the first film she was planning to direct, Dil Aashna Hai and she signed him to play the hero opposite Divya Bharati in her film…

He had to find some admirers and well-wishers who would guide him along in a world about which he knew very little. He found a guide in an actor who was also a producer and who had all the right contacts. Viveck Vaswani became his right hand man and he even lived in Viveck’s house during the initial days of his career….

It was Kundan Shah, a director who had made a name for himself with Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron who cast him as the hero with a difference in a film with a difference, Kabhi Haa Kabhi Naa with several senior actors like Naseeruddin Shah, Anjan Srivastav, Suhas Khandke, Suchitra Krishnamurthy and many others. He was well on his way.

It was at this stage that he needed a reliable personal staff. He found Anwar Khan and appointed him as his secretary and Khan remained his confidant and business manager till his untimely death. He bought a Pajero and needed a good chauffeur. He had heard of Kabir who had been a chauffeur to Rajesh Khanna in his heydays and then to Mithun Chakraborty and was considered a lucky mascot. He proved himself as Shah Rukh Khan started signing one big film after another and was the new star on the horizon. But, this man Kabir took his position as a lucky mascot too seriously and almost controlled every decision and move made by the new star Shah Rukh Khan. His high handed ways finally irked Shah Rukh and he was out and has never been heard of again. The last time I saw him was in a crowded BEST bus. He was in a very bad condition. The man who always wore starched white was dressed in dirty clothes and asked me to get him a job as a driver or any other job in the industry. I told him I would try, but I have not seen him after that morning.

Among the first big and known filmmakers who took him seriously were Raj Kanwar who cast him in a big film like Deewana in which he played a negative role, almost worse than the normal villain, Yash Chopra who again cast him as the bad man in Darr, Yash Johar who cast him in Duplicate while Umed Jain and Ratan Jain cast him in Yes Boss and finally Yash Chopra again who cast him as one of the most romantic heroes of Hindi films, the Rahul of Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge and then there was no looking back for the boy from Delhi who finally built his palace facing the sea and called it ‘Mannat’, was the founder of Red Chillies Entertainment and who had the power to hold the whole world in the palms of his hands and who had as many fans as the specks of sand on the shore near ‘Mannat’.

The man who had landed at the domestic airport of Mumbai several years ago all by himself now has the world following him wherever he goes. He is the Badshah, the name he is better known by than the name he had come to Mumbai with- Shah Rukh Khan.

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