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It really was a bizarre weekend of Raees promotions here in Dubai. The Raees team was here at Bollywood Parks – Shah Rukh Khan and entourage from India and Mahira Khan from Pakistan – but they met the press separately and it was so surreal. Meeting SRK made me think that the producers really did have a “baniye ka dimaag” because whenever they were asked a question around Mahira Khan, they would go all around the question and generalize their comments for all the actors. The release is just around the corner and it is understandable that they do not want any controversy impacting the film’s box office sales. At the end of the day, a film is just a commodity for its producers and hence everything is number driven. Nothing should impact the sales.

But, despite all the bodyguards around him, I managed to ask SRK a few questions about Mahira Khan and here are the excerpts, albeit they are very gol mol ones…

On Working with Mahira Khan

Shah Rukh Khan lumped all praises for Mahira Khan with all his other co-actors in the film and said that he has received great help from his co-actors in delivering his role. “I was fortunate to be working with Mahira and also Nawazuddin. The character of Raees comes from a particular background and I don’t think I have done anything like that or in that set up before in my career. So it was very important for my delivery to have performers who are more real when they are acting; it’s something that I don’t do that often. I have received great help as an artist just by observing the way Mahira, Nawaz Bhai and Zeeshan have approached their characters in the film. And I am very thankful to Rahul for his choices and getting on board just the right talent for this film.

Mahira & SRK Personal Equation & That Funny Story

I asked him if he had learnt anything about the Pakistani industry through Mahira; I was curious to know a bit more about his personal equation with her. Without a pause he said with a wicked smile, “Mein tujhe kyun bataon ke mein Mahira Khan se kia baatein karta tha?”

But then I believe he remembered that he needs to be careful with regards to discussion about Mahira and he reverted to playing it very safe. “Unfortunately we did not have many opportunities to have personal discussions but having said that, on the work front, whatever little we did has come out to be really impactful. More often we have been pressed for time because of my injury and my scheduling and everybody having to work out dates. But the icebreaking took long and there is a funny story:

“I was asked by my cameraperson, who had worked with me in Don and now in Imtiaz Ali’s film, if I was in a very bad mood? He’d ask again and again. I am generally very easy, outgoing and lovable on sets but he told me you are looking very dangerous and everybody is actually scared of talking to you. And I used to think that because Rahul Dholakia is from the art cinema and Nawazuddin Siddiqui is a very serious actor hence everybody was very quiet and seriously working all the time. So I assumed that maybe this is the atmosphere Rahul wanted on the sets and I would go to my room and sit down. I do commercial cinema so the way of working was slightly different. But later we learnt that the truth was because of the kohl in my eyes; everybody thought that I was mean and bad so nobody spoke to me on the sets for the first twenty days. It was only after when we took the first break and partied that people realized that I am normal behind the kohl.

Coming back to Mahira, he said it had been an exceptional experience to work with her.

  • Sadiq Saleem, is a Dubai based entertainment journalist. He is also an SH correspondent and can be contacted on his page fb/sidsaidso.
  • Pictures by Zuhair Javaid