Why Yash and Aditya Chopra did not want Shah Rukh Khan for Darr

But once shooting for the film began, the Chopras could see clearly that SRK was going to be a superstar.

Keyur Seta

Aditya Chopra, through his banner Yash Raj Films, enjoys numero uno position as far as Hindi film production is concerned. As a filmmaker too he is known as someone who helmed India’s longest running film ever, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995). 

But barring his earliest days, Chopra never speaks to the media nor makes any public appearances. However, the director-cum-producer has finally shared his thoughts in detail, although through an excerpt from the book SRK: 25 Years Of A Life On Shah Rukh Khan by Samar Khan and Sonali Kokra. 

Chopra has had a longstanding friendship with SRK, as Khan is popularly known. All three films he has directed so far have starred Shah Rukh Khan (his next, Befikre, is an exception). The actor shared a deep bond with Chopra's father, the late Yash Chopra, who made three films with the superstar. However, surprising as it may sound, the father-son duo wasn’t impressed with Khan initially.

For their thriller Darr (1993), Yash Chopra and his son, who was assistant director, were struggling to find an actor to play the obsessed, psychotic lover and this might have been why they chose to cast Khan. “When we cast him for Darr, to be honest, neither dad nor I really liked him. He was working on Rakesh Roshan’s King Uncle then and we had managed to get our hands on the reel of some footage. Neither of us was very impressed, but somehow, maybe because everyone kept rejecting the negative part, we ended up signing him,” Chopra said.

But their opinion about SRK changed dramatically during the shoot. “Our first shot with him was the Holi song. I think that very day I knew this man was going to be a superstar. He had a strange kind of madness in his eyes that was very exciting.”

Darr was followed by Aditya Chopra’s directorial debut, DDLJ. The filmmaker was eager to show Khan's good qualities in the film. “I knew I had to have Shah Rukh. Mostly because in those days, Shah Rukh Khan was two people at once. There was Shah Rukh the actual person and there was the image that he projected. Most of his roles were about this brash, arrogant, aggressive person — all the things he isn’t in real life. A good boy was playing a bad boy. In real life, he was an honest, well-read, kind boy. And that is the side of him I wanted to bring out in Dilwale... I wanted to flip his image over.” 

Interestingly, Chopra feels the world has only seen 10% of SRK’s actual acting calibre. “I think he is the best actor in the whole world and that we’ve seen only 10% of his talent. That 90% is still to come and blow us away. As a filmmaker and a friend, I hope that soon he is offered roles that tap into the remaining 90%. l hope I can give him roles that tell the world, ‘You’ve seen Shah Rukh the superstar, now see Shah Rukh the actor’.”