Article Hindi

How Shah Rukh Khan entered Deewana – Raj Kanwar death anniversary special


On the filmmaker's 6th death anniversary (he died on 3 February 2012), we look at how Khan was signed after the film's shooting began.

Shriram Iyengar

Shah Rukh Khan once said he does not want to watch his first and his last film. Considering that there are still a few good years left before he hangs up his makeup kit, he has to only avoid Deewana (1992), directed by Raj Kanwar, for now.

In the early 1990s, Shah Rukh Khan was still making his way through television. His role as the young Lt Abhimanyu Rai in Fauji (1989) had endeared him to viewers around the country. He had also featured in Arundhati Roy's directorial debut In Which Annie Gives It Those Ones (1989), but the role was too small for anyone to notice.

Not that the man who would come to dubbed 'King Khan' by the cinema glossy magazines was bothered. Like any struggler in Bombay (now Mumbai), he radiated self-confidence. Sometimes, it was the only thing needed.

Raj Kanwar's Deewana (1992) is a landmark film in some ways. It was the launch of one of the most prolific actors of the generation and the unquestioned superstar of the 1990s.

That was quite something, considering that Aamir Khan, Salman Khan, Anil Kapoor and, lest we forget, Govinda, were all at their peak in that decade. Yet, Shah Rukh Khan's energy, enthusiasm, and courage to take up different roles set him apart. It was, perhaps, this very courage that brought him to director Kanwar's notice.

Shah Rukh Khan, or SRK as he is known to fans, was nowhere in the picture when the first shot of Deewana was completed.

After Anil Kapoor and Govinda had rejected the role, it was offered to another young actor, Armaan Kohli. Now known for his infamous stint in the reality TV show Bigg Boss, Kohli was cast as the second lead to Rishi Kapoor.

When Kohli walked out of the film citing creative differences, Kanwar turned to Shah Rukh Khan. Ever the astute actor, the young man grabbed the opportunity.

Though Khan only made an entry in the film after the interval, it was in flamboyant style, singing 'Koi Na Koi Chahiye', that was to define him in the years to come. Speaking years later, Rishi Kapoor was to describe the young man as a 'spirited boy'.

The song, sung by Kumar Sanu, became one of the biggest hits of the year. Shah Rukh Khan and Divya Bharti won the Filmfare Best Debut awards.

A true commercial filmmaker, Kanwar made movies that were rich in music, drama, action and romance. The director, who Shekhar Kapur says 'was obsessed with films', knew the importance of that 'star' quality separating ordinary actors from the thoroughbreds.

Sadly, the director and his protege never did another film together again. The industry was rife with rumours about Khan ignoring Kanwar, but it was clear that after Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995), Shah Rukh Khan had grown too big for Kanwar's canvas.

The director went on to make Laadla (1994), Jeet (1996), Judaai (1997), Daag: The Fire (1999) and Andaaz (2003).

But for Hindi film fans of the 1990s, Deewana holds a special corner in nostalgia lane.