There are a few stories in Bollywood that exist in the no man’s land between reality and legend. They usually begin with the words “it is said” or “I read it somewhere once”. One such story happens to be about Shah Rukh Khan, his dream and the city of Mumbai. Legend has it that a long time ago, way before he became the superstar that he is today, Khan stood on Marine Drive, looked across the sea at the setting sun and declared: “I’ll rule this city one day”.
And you know what they say – “Agar kisi cheez ko dil se chaaho to puri kayanat usey tumse milane ki koshish mein lag jaati hai.” The Universe conspired and today, Khan is the undisputed Badshah of Bollywood. It wasn’t an easy journey, however. An outsider in every way, the actor came from extremely humble beginnings and had to overcome massive personal and professional losses to reach where he is today.
In interview after interview, the ever grateful and humble SRK has maintained that he is who he is today because a lot of people came together to ease his path when he needed it most. In the video segment below, Khan speaks about his “life mentors” who gave him a place to stay in Mumbai when he didn’t have a roof over his head. He emotionally recalls how even the biggest of celebrities, including the evergreen Hema Malin, imparted nuggets of wisdom to him so that he’d be able to make better choices in life.
“When I came from Delhi, I had no family. I had nobody and I tell this to everyone that I have an extended family in all the filmmakers, all these leading ladies, all the producers, some other friends I’ve made along the way in the film industry. If it wasn’t for them, I genuinely would not be celebrating 25 years of my life here,” he said during an event in 2016.
Khan’s parents were taken from him at an early age and he admits to having taken up acting as a way to vent his feelings and fill up the void in his life. “My parents went away suddenly. We got to know they had cancer and within two and a half months, they were gone. I didn’t know what to do. I just felt one night, while at their mazaar that I should fill this void with something. I got a fortunate break in films. For me, acting is not work but a place to vent out my feelings,” he told Rani Mukerji during a promotional video for her film, Hichki.
The God who gives us life and the problems and roadblocks, also makes us find ways to overcome those,” he added, showing incorrigible optimism and the insurmountable ability to overcome obstacles, two characteristics that have come to define him.
Whispers in Hollywood talk about how Madonna came to Hollywood with 35 dollars in her pocket. When Khan first came moved to Mumbai, he brought only Rs 1,500 with him and wanted to earn a lakh at least. “I am really scared of failures. Coming from a lower-middle class family, I saw a lot of failure. At a certain juncture of my life, I was thrown out on the road because we could not pay rent. Poverty instils fear, stress and sometimes depression,” he said in an interaction with around 800 management students in 2013, reports the Hindustan Times.
Despite being faced with such abject poverty and having to take on roles that were rejected by other stars (Deewana was turned down by Armaan Kohli, Baazigar by Salman Khan and Darr by Aamir Khan), Khan states that he has never sold his soul for stardom – it’s been sheer, backbreaking hard work mixed with incredible talent and unshakeable faith in himself and the Universe.
The boy who stood on Marine Drive all those years ago could have never imagined how far he’d come. Or maybe he did. And maybe, that’s why he became the legend we now address by the name of Shah Rukh Khan.