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Shah Rukh Khan gave a new credence to the anti-hero in Baazigar, recalls producer on film’s 24th anniversary

 By Manishaa R

Noted producer Ganesh Jain of Venus Entertainment recalls how Baazigar became a milestone in Shah Rukh Khan’s career, after he took up the role without any hesitation.

It has been 24 years since the release of Baazigar on 12th November 1993 but producer Ganesh Jain of Venus Worldwide Entertainment has vivid memories of Shah Rukh Khan and the film that initiated the King Khan into superstardom. According to the reputed filmmaker, when they teamed up with directors Abbas-Mustan for the crime thriller, the biggest hitch was finding a hero or rather an anti-hero, since no star was willing to take the risk of playing a negative role at that time.  Apparently the script was narrated to at least four leading actors, including Anil Kapoor and Salman Khan. Recalls Ganesh Jain, “Those days no actor was willing to risk his image and go against the conventional hero. There was always this fear of public rejection. We initially approached Anil Kapoor for the role but he was busy shooting for BRoop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raja and expressed his own reservations. Subsequently we approached Salman Khan but he was busy with Hum Aapke Hai Kaun and he too was reluctant to do the role.”

That’s when they decided to explore the idea of approaching Shah Rukh Khan for the role. The super-star, who was in the initial stages of his career, had done films like Deewana, Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman, Idiot and Maya Memsaab. Both Abbas and Mustan were confident that he would play the role effortlessly on screen. The actor, who was eager to prove his mettle in acting, gave his nod immediately after the story was narrated to him. Recalls Ganesh Jain, “Shah Rukh had a very different attitude. He was excited about the role and decided to go all out for the role without any reservations whatsoever. Also he was the kind who was brimming with energy and enthusiasm, a quality which is an inherent part of his personality even today.”

Despite the fact that the film defied the conventional Bollywood formula, it was sold all over India at a formidable price to distributors prior to its release. Baazigar later went on to become the fourth highest grossing film of the year, proving to be a milestone in Shah Rukh Khan’s career and winning him his first Filmfare award for Best Actor at the 39th Filmfare awards. More interestingly it marked the beginning of superstardom for him, after the audiences empathized with his character of a deceitful serial killer and patronized the film. He also got a record number of offers after the release of the film.

Jain maintains that the film was destined to be a super-hit from day one since it had an extraordinary musical score, since music was always the biggest strength of all their films but Shah Rukh added a completely new dimension to the role of Ajay in the film, “Anu Mallik gave a raging musical score for the film but Shah Rukh Khan gave the role an altogether new conviction. Together with Kajol and Shilpa Shetty, it turned out to be a memorable thriller. It was amazing when the audiences hailed the anti-hero played by him on screen.”

No star was willing to take the risk. Both Anil Kapoor and Salman Khan refused the role expressing reservations about it – Ganesh Jain

Venus Entertainment subsequently teamed up with Shah Rukh Khan for four other films, the last being Main Hoon Na. According to Ganesh Jain, working with thBe superstar was always an experience to treasure, “He is more like family. His biggest quality is that he never throws his weight around on the sets. He has never thrown tantrums irrespective of his super-stardom. That is something really adorable.”

The filmmaker feels that it is this eagerness to experiment with roles that has worked tremendously for Shah Rukh Khan in his career, though he is largely known as the King of romance, “He is undoubtedly the king of romance but he has never shied away from experimenting with roles be it a tragedy like Devdas or an action-thriller like Don or more recently, the complex role in Raees. He truly deserves to be called the Badshah of Bollywood.”