Hidden story of a cult classic

30th Anniversary Special on How Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman Started Shah Rukh Khan’s Amazing Rise

LABOR OF LOVE: (L to R) Juhi Chawla, Nana Patekar and Shah Rukh Khan in Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman

By: ASJAD NAZIR

This week marks the 30th anniversary of Raju Ban Gaya Gentlemanreleased to great acclaim on November 13, 1992.

Shah Rukh Khan’s first major film title launched a remarkable rise that would make him the biggest global Bollywood star in five years. The story of a young man from humble beginnings venturing to the big city to make a name for himself remains relevant and reflects the actor’s own life.

eastern eye marks three decades of the cult classic by revealing the story behind the film, including great sacrifice, star-making strategy and immense dedication from a future cinema icon, speaking to the film’s producer Viveck Vaswani .

Shah Rukh Khan befriended actor/producer Viveck Vaswani after a chance encounter on the streets of Mumbai. The young man from Delhi had acted on television but had nowhere to live and moved into Vaswani’s residence.

“He was very clear about wanting to do TV and not movies. I said, okay no. I had just finished a hit movie Patthar Ke Phool. (Producer) GP Sippy Saab wanted me to make another film for him. We were creating Aatish, which my assistant Sanjay Gupta would direct, along with Sanjay Dutt and Raveena Tandon,” Vaswani explained.

Shortly after Shah Rukh Khan’s mother died in Delhi, he landed in Mumbai in the middle of the night and knocked on Vaswani’s door. “He said until you don’t swear, you’re going to make a movie, I’m not coming into your house. I agreed! He put his suitcases in the hall of my house. We then went to the President Hotel, next door, to order coffee and unlimited cigarettes.

This late-night brainstorming session began on Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman journey. The next step would be to find a good writer/director. Khan rejected the directors, including Kundan Shah, although they worked together on the television series Circus, but would later work with him on Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa (1994). “Shah Rukh suggested his friend Aziz Mirza but said he had never directed a film before. I said Anant Balani had never directed before my film Patthar Ke Phool. We will meet Aziz. We both met Aziz, and he had this story idea of ​​a boy who comes to the big bad world of Bombay. He also told me that it was a free adaptation of Shree 420that I had not seen.

Mirza was encouraged to write the screenplay, with Khan and Vaswani giving input on characters, story, and setting. Directors Kundan Shah, Saeed Mirza and Sudhir Mishra also made suggestions because they believed in the project. When the script was ready, financier GP Sippy was brought in to direct the film. “He said, are you crazy? You want to make a movie with this TV actor. we just did Patthar Ke Phool with Salman Khan and Raveena Tandon, why not use them again.

Shah Rukh Khan and Amrita Singh in Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman

Sippy then suggested Aamir Khan for the lead role and Vaswani went to meet him at a film studio, with the unknown Shah Rukh Khan in tow.

“I offered him the film reluctantly. Aamir said what is the problem? I explained that I was doing this movie for Shah Rukh, but Sippy Saab wants you and I can’t say no to her. He got it and said I can’t tell him either, so tell him I don’t have a date for two years. Aamir was very understanding and stepped aside.

Vaswani was then ordered by Sippy to approach Vivek Mushran, who was launched by Subhash Ghai in Saudagar (1991), but his management wanted too much money.

The producer figured his protege must be salable, so introduced the actor to top filmmakers and landed him projects, including King Uncle, Shamatkar, Dil Aashna Hai and Deewana. “No matter how big the role or the movie, we got him signed to projects.”

This movie mogul impressed GP Sippy, but not enough to cast Shah Rukh Khan. Vaswani had not taken any money in advance for Patthar Ke Phool and says he was hired to receive 25 percent of the profits. This led him to a secret sacrifice to bring the project to fruition. “I said, give me my money and I’ll make my own movie. In fact, I didn’t want that! I knew if Shah Rukh was going to make it big he would need the power of a GP Sippy. Eventually Sippy Saab called me and said, you do Aatish behind the scenes, without any credit or money, and wave the profits of Patthar Ke Phool. Third, we will Raju Ban Gaya Gentlemanbut you won’t get a rupee for it.

The young producer reluctantly accepted the harsh terms of not receiving money for three films because of the promise he had made. “He had neither money nor a house. I had a great house and wonderful parents, so I signed the paper. I returned home where Shah Rukh sat dejected. I said Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman is turned on and Sippy Films produces. I said the man who made Sholay will throw you and he was thrilled.

Viveck Vaswani

During this time, the strategy worked because the other films he had signed increased his notoriety. The next step was to assemble a solid cast. Fast rising star Juhi Chawla, lived near Vaswani, and was the first choice for the leading lady. GP Sippy had wanted someone glamorous for the second leading lady like Raveena Tandon, but Vaswani wanted to cast Amrita Singh to create the idea of ​​an older woman falling in love with a younger man. He persuaded established star Amrita to reduce his price in return for a commitment that Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla would design his costumes. “It was a good experience working with Amrita Singh and Juhi Chawla. They were very professional. »

The other key cast member was Nana Patekar as the street philosopher, but GP Sippy’s son Ramesh Sippy wanted Shatrughan Sinha for the role because they were close friends. “I really like Shatrughan and he could have played the role, but Bombay was a major character, and we wanted someone who could represent the spirit of the city. I had seen Nana Patekar in Parinda and was afraid to go to him. But he was completely disciplined and worked so well with us. It was one of the happiest relationships I’ve ever had with an actor in my life.

Unknown musical director duo Jatin-Lalit were signed to do the music. Over the next few years, they would deliver iconic soundtracks for films like Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, Khamoshi and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai.

Cinematographer Ace Binod Pradhan had captured a dark side of Mumbai in Parinda (1989) and was commissioned to present the lighter side of the city. “Binod Pradhan did a brilliant job. He’s one of the best filmmakers in the world. »

Excellent preparation, a dedicated crew and talented actors allowed for smooth navigation during filming. By the time Shah Rukh Khan had started shooting for Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman, he had experience on other films and was perfectly prepared. The young man had also dedicated himself to helping with all aspects of the film. “I was throwing it so it had to be Shah Rukh Khan’s show. He had to compete with the best in the business and did it. He was very professional. He had a great rapport and great warmth with Aziz and me, which was reflected in every frame, including the scene where I play the car salesman.

Having gained a foothold in movies, Shah Rukh eventually married longtime love Gauri Khan while filming Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman. “I went to Delhi with Aziz Mirza for the wedding. Then Aziz, Shah Rukh and Gauri went to Darjeeling after the wedding to shoot the first song Dil Hai Mera Deewana. It was like a first honeymoon for them.

Aditya Chopra and Karan Johar would break box office records later in the 1990s, but before they achieved anything, the budding filmmakers found themselves on the sets of Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman to watch the filming. “Aditya Chopra left saying you had a special movie. Four days later he called me and wanted to speak to Shah Rukh. He said we have a problem with Darr and want to replace Aamir (Khan). Although my dad (Yash Chopra) doesn’t think he’s big enough to match Sunny Deol, maybe we want him to do Darr. That’s when I knew Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman was special. He had seen the soul of a great talent. He would go on to make memorable movies with Shah Rukh like Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, Dil to Pagal Hai, Mohabbatein and chak of india.”

When Vaswani saw the first cut of the film, he cried. “I tried to hide that I was crying. I watched Nana Patekar during the trial show and he was crying too. So I thought about this fucking shit and we both cried. We knew, we had a special movie.

Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman became a great success. It made Shah Rukh Khan a star, gave a boost to Juhi Chawla’s career, launched Aziz Mirza as a director, made GP Sippy money, gave music directors a platform Jatin Lalit and created Nana Patekar. “The film benefited everyone except me. Everyone in the Sippy camp kept saying dismissively that he wasn’t the producer, but a production manager. Even if I also ended Aatish for them because Sanjay Gupta was a friend. I gave it my all to the movies and went on my merry way.

Vaswani doesn’t regret signing the so-called evil deal with GP Sippy which left him with nothing and is happy to have started Shah Rukh Khan. “He was unaware of the case and would have arrested me. But it’s 30 years later, and it’s something that happened. What we wanted to do with Shah Rukh happened. It makes me more than happy.

The film remains timeless and Vaswani pays homage to writer/director Aziz Mirza. “He added warmth. Aziz was not only happy with the script and encouraged the actors to improvise and add human elements. These days, nobody does that. Everything works on machines and emails sent from corporate houses. But Raju was a very human film and made with the heart. Shah Rukh, Aziz and I put our lives into it. So did the entire cast and crew, including our brilliant editor, Javed Sayyed.

Many tried to copy the film but failed. Vaswani ended by saying, “The story of a corrupt man returning to his roots is as old as the hills, but Aziz told it in a special way. I’m proud of the film and everyone who worked on it.

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