It was during the filming of Mahesh Bhatt’s 1998 film, Duplicate, when Shah Rukh Khan had his first brush with the underworld and film journalist Anupama Chopra in her book tells the story of how he got away without harm. . , ‘Badshah of Bollywood: Shah Rukh Khan and the enchanting world of Indian cinema’.
Back in January 1997, the same month that the music mogul Gulshan Kumar was murdered, former Maharashtra DGP Rakesh Maria, who was instrumental in solving the 1993 Bombay bombings case, dialed Bhatt to inform him that a sharpshooter hired by dreaded gangster Abu Salem Was looking for an opportunity to kill the superstar.
The Reason? Shah Rukh did not sign a film being made by a producer close to Abu Salem.
The Mumbai Police gave Shah Rukh Khan a bodyguard, Mohan Bhise, and advised the actor to limit his movements; He was asked to change cars and his routes to work every day.
While talking to Chopra, Shah Rukh recalled an incident from the wedding of a famous cricketer of that time. At the wedding a fan came to him and asked for autograph and as he was taking out his pen, Shahrukh panicked and pushed Gauri. He was afraid that the pen might be a gun!
Interestingly, SRK says in the book that he did not fear for his life like his wife and children. “I had this strange false belief that I would not be shot,” Shah Rukh said.
One day, when Shah Rukh Khan was returning from Khandala after shooting for ‘Dil To Pagal Hai’, he got a call from Abu Salem, who first abused him in Hindi. The actor did not lose his temper. He kept a polite tone, but spoke only in English.
Salem then said that he was upset because Shah Rukh had refused to do a film being made by a Muslim producer. He said that Shah Rukh should have shown some support to his community.
Shah Rukh calmly replied that he is already working with Mansoor Khan, Abbas-Mustan and Aziz Mirza. Apart from this, Mahesh Bhatt’s mother was also a Muslim. Incidentally, Maria had coached Shah Rukh on how to deal with gangsters.
In the words of Shahrukh, he told Salem: “I don’t tell you what to shoot so don’t tell me what to do.”
Hearing this, the miscreant retreated. Abu Salem said that Shahrukh need not worry and he can roam without security. However, the police refused to take any risk and did not take Shahrukh’s bodyguard back.
After this Abu Salem used to call Shahrukh and make small talk, but every time he did not forget to tell him that he knew where he was and where was his security details. Ignoring the ominous shadow of Salem, Shah Rukh continued shooting for ‘Duplicate’ on the streets of Mumbai.
Mahesh Bhatt at the time said that Shah Rukh had a “death flirting attitude”. He will do the most hilarious scene (in ‘Duplicate’) despite the “harsh reality knocking on his door”.
Soon, members of the Chhota Rajan gang also started calling up Shah Rukh, but in Chopra’s words, “they backed down with astonishing grace”. A small-time gangster named Gonga Bhai offered Shah Rukh the lead role in a film based on his life. Shah Rukh Khan confused her by replying in English, “I can’t imagine the kind of emotional graph I can develop.” Stumped, Gonga bhai gave up after spending a year chasing the superstar.
In the end, it was Chhota Shakeel who called as he was hurt by the line ‘Paun Jannat Kahani’ in the song ‘Chaiyya Chaiyya’ from ‘Dil Se’. The gangster said he considered the line un-Islamic, which translates to ‘Heaven is under my feet’. SRK calmly replied that the line was actually ‘paun jannat chale’ (my feet are going to heaven)!
According to Chopra, three things worked in Shah Rukh’s favor: he was humble without fail; The gangster and he were followers of the same religion; And his widespread popularity – his fans, in fact, included family members of the gangsters who threatened him. As Abu Salem told Shah Rukh, his mother and his wife were big fans of the star.