When Shah Rukh Khan got ‘sh*t scared’ of gangster Abu Salem’s calls: ‘I’m not macho enough, it was depressing and scary’

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shah rukh khan

The era of 90s was a vey scary time for the Hindi film industry. The rising threat of the underworld and crime was upon the Bollywood industry. After Gulshan Kumar was shot dead in 1997 and producer Rajiv Rai was attacked, the people belonging to Bollywood industry were put on a high alert .

It was during this time, when the biggest stars of the film industry were getting threatening calls from the underworld. Shah Rukh Khan, was one of them, as he was a big superstar at the time. In the book, King of Bollywood: Shah Rukh Khan and the Seductive World of Indian Cinema, written by Anupama Chopra, describes this particular incident.

Shah Rukh was at the peak of his career in the 90s. Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge had turned around his career and he was now the man who was the king of Bollywood. Rakesh Maria was a senior police officer at that time. He called up director Mahesh Bhatt to discuss something really urgent. They had received word that Abu Salem, who was the mastermind behind Gulshan Kumar’s shooting and was known for extorting money from film producers, was “going to kill Shah Rukh Khan.”

According to the information received by the police, Abu Salem was planning to attack SRK because Shah Rukh had refused a film which was being made by one of Salem’s producer friend. As soon as Mahesh Bhatt got to know about all this, he called the star and took him to the office of Maria. The star was soon provided with security.

Shah Rukh was busy shooting for the film Dil To Pagal Hai at that time, which was being directed by Yash Chopra. One day, he got a call from Abu Salem. Salem asked the DDLJ star “Haan, kya chal raha hai? (What’s going on?)” SRK responded to this, “Who’s this?” Salem, on the other hand, wasn’t happy with this question and started abusing the actor.

When Chak De India actor asked the gangster, “What is the problem, sir?,” Salem talked about how he wasn’t happy with the fact that Shah Rukh had refused to work with a Muslim filmmaker. The gangster said to the actor that he expected Shah Rukh to support and actively work with those who come from the same community as him.

At that time, Shah Rukh Khan was working with numerous Muslim filmmakers – Mansoor Khan, Abbas Mustan, Aziz Mirza – and told about the same to Salem. The gangster then said, “Log bolte the tu bahut proudy hai lekin tu bada sharif hai. Abhi police ki zaroorat nahin tereko. Main nahin maroonga (People tell me that you are very proud but you are a decent man. Now you don’t need the police. I won’t kill you.)”

Shah Rukh talked about how through all of this, even though many in the film industry were being targeted, he somehow had this confidence that he would not get shot,. “I had this strange misplaced confidence that I will not get shot,” he told Chopra.

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