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Saturday, November 3, 2007

Age no bar at 42, the Shah Rukh magic continues

New Delhi, His charisma, wit and intelligence make him stand apart and his humility has endeared him to the masses. No wonder, in a short span Shah Rukh Khan has become a phenomenon. And now the Bollywood superstar, who turns 42 Friday, is set to charm movie buffs with his much-awaited "Om Shanti Om".

Shah Rukh, who has specially cultivated six-pack abs for the film and even gone shirtless, is fiercely promoting the film and says it will compete with the year's best "Chak De! India", which again had him in the lead role.

And "Chak De.." has been the only superhit of the year.

"I'm very competitive. I compete with myself. I don't look at anyone; I just look straight. I don't even watch films which don't star me," Shah Rukh, who reportedly earns a mind-boggling Rs.247 every minute, has been quoted as saying.

Set in the backdrop of the 1970s Bollywood, "Om Shanti Om" has the re-incarnation theme as its backdrop and is directed by good friend Farah Khan. It also introduces the lovely Deepika Padukone, former badminton ace Prakash Padukone's model daughter.

The actor is reported to have sold the film, made at a budget of Rs.400 million, for Rs.700 million.

When it releases Nov 9, the film will clash with another much-hyped movie - Sanjay Leela Bhansali's musical extravaganza "Saawariya" which stars, Nitu and Rishi Kapoor's son Ranbir and Anil Kapoor's daughter Sonam. Sony Pictures, co-producer of the film, is splurging big money on its publicity.

But Shah Rukh is unfazed.

He said: "Nobody is going to use money to oust the goodwill that I have created."

Ragini Talwar, a die-hard Shah Rukh fan, explains his popularity, saying: "He is a thinking man, he is intelligent, level-headed and doesn't exude any arrogance. All these qualities make him very endearing."

Although not good-looking in the conventional terms, Shah Rukh's mass appeal is amazing. This was quite obvious when he became host of STAR Plus' popular quiz show "Kaun Banega Crorepati", which had become synonymous with icon Amitabh Bachchan.

When launched on Jan 22 this year, the initial response to the quiz show was not so encouraging. And comparisons with original host Amitabh were inevitable.

But soon the comparisons stopped, and people began enjoying the show. With his irresistible charm and wittiness, Shah Rukh gave a new makeover to the show and viewers began looking forward to it. Its witty content made the show a kind of a stress buster.

Shah Rukh is considered one of the premium brands of India. However, he says that he never worked consciously to achieve the status.

"Brands are made by the conventional way of working hard. I never worked in a special manner to build my brand. I just worked hard. Getting somewhere is easy but holding on to it is very difficult. Brands work if you think positively," he says.

At a time when most of the successful actors are Hollywood bound, Shah Rukh brushes aside such aspirations.

"By acting in a Hollywood film I will not become a good actor. Acting has no language," says the actor, his feet firmly on the ground.

Shah Rukh, who started off as a stark newcomer in the industry in 1992 minus a godfather, is keen that India have Oscar-like academy awards. He also wants to introduce new film technology and has plans to build his own studio. But he has yet to find a place.

Age is no bar to the superstar who seems to look younger, get better and more energetic with the passing years, just like old wine.


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