Shah Rukh Khan on Being an Action Hero for Aditya Chopra in ‘Pathaan’

The lead role in blockbuster spy action film “Pathaan” was the fulfilment of a promise made by producer Aditya Chopra 30 years ago, Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan has revealed.

“Pathaan” is produced by Yash Raj Films (YRF), founded by the late Yash Chopra, of which Aditya Chopra is now the head.

In 1993, Khan was shooting YRF’s “Darr,” in which he played the antagonist. “One day, it was Adi’s birthday, and he asked me if I will do a film and I said ‘I would love to do it,’ And then he narrated something where I would be an action hero,” Khan said in a statement provided by YRF. “Because I was doing ‘Darr’ as well, I also got excited about it. Then three-four years later, he called and said I am coming to narrate an action film. I really wanted to play an action hero because no one was offering me that genre.”

After romantic drama “Darr,” Khan starred in comedy drama “Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa” (1994), crime drama “Anjaam” (1994), drama fantasy “Karan Arjun” (1995), comedy drama “Zamaana Deewana” (1995), drama romance “Guddu” (1995) and comedy “Oh Darling Yeh Hai India” (1995).

“So, it was my dream to do an action film – where I am wearing a white vest, I have a great body, there’s blood, I am with a girl, holding a gun. Then Adi [Aditya Chopra] came and narrated the film to me in Mehboob studio – that film was [romance] ‘Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge.’ I was like where is the action in this?,” Khan said.

Chopra’s directorial debut “Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge” (1995), often abbreviated as “DDLJ,” proved to be a massive success and firmly established Khan as the greatest Bollywood romantic hero of his generation. The film has been playing at Mumbai’s Maratha Mandir cinema almost continuously since release. However, Khan’s thirst for an action film was not slaked.

“Adi said we will do it next. But then we did ‘Dil To Pagal Hai’ [1997]. That also did well, but we never did the action,” Khan said. “In fact, he narrated to me one more time some four years ago too. Then when they came last, Adi told me that he will come with Sid [“Pathaan” director Siddharth Anand] and narrated the first 15 minutes [of “Pathaan”].

“They came, narrated the script and left. I was sitting with my manager Pooja. I told her ‘Adi is lying’. He will not make an action film,” Khan said. “But I really really thank him that after 30 years, he fulfilled his promise and made ‘Pathaan’ with me. Today, in Maratha Mandir our ‘DDLJ’ is going on and so is ‘Pathaan.’ So, I am very happy that Adi kept his promise. And I am happier that with ‘Pathaan,’ I have proven to Adi that I can do action as well. I hope Adi takes me in more action films.”

“Pathaan,” in which the 57-year-old Khan sports a chiselled body with 12-pack abs, is the biggest Indian box office hit of 2023 and the biggest hit of the actor’s career so far, grossing $84.2 million since its Jan. 25 release.

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