Posted by Fenil Seta
Roshmila Bhattacharya (MUMBAI MIRROR; March 17, 2017)
Over the last month, two of Bollywood’s biggest Khans, with three public appearances in quick succession, have set tongues wagging. No, it’s not Salman and Shah Rukh, who, having buried the hatchet after a decade, have turned from jaani dushman to Khan dosts. This flashbulb-popping bonding is between Shah Rukh and Aamir.
The bonhomie started with a colour-coordinated selfie at PVR chairman and managing director Ajay Bijli’s 50th birthday bash in a Dubai luxury resort. SRK shared the picture online with the caption, “Known each other for 25 years and this is the first picture we have taken together of ourselves. It was a fun night.” With over 28,000 likes and 8,000 retweets, it quickly went viral and raised eyebrows.
They fed the frenzy further by cementing their bond with yet another selfie, this time with Reed Hastings, CEO of a global online streaming network, and his team, last Saturday at SRK’s bungalow. Once again, the actor was quick to react to the picture-perfect moment on Twitter despite his left shoulder being in a cast after a minor surgery: “Netflixed and chilled. Thanks Reed Hastings, Ted Sarandos and team and my friend Aamir Khan for breaking his regimen for me.”
The ‘Khantastic’ night fanned speculations that after entering into a long-term deal with the Bollywood Badshah on his films, past and present, the digital giant was now wooing the other Khan. Aamir categorically denied this when addressing the media on his 52nd birthday on March 14, asserting that they have not been talking shop. “We are meeting casually, just as friends. We haven’t discussed work,” he insisted.
That only intensified the chatter after Shah Rukh turned up later that day at Aamir’s birthday bash, taking many of the guests by surprise and getting a warm welcome from the host himself. The bash in question was more of a low-key dinner with family, the Phogat sisters, Geeta and Babita, and their family, and select friends. The only notable Bollywood presence besides SRK was Aamir’s Dangal team and filmmaker Aanand L Rai in whose next SRK plays a dwarf. His usual coterie of directors like Rajkumar Hirani, Ashutosh Gowariker and Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra were missing.
According to a source, Shah Rukh strolled in around 1 am and Aamir and he spent a lot of time quietly chatting in the balcony. There were many who wished they could be a fly on the wall and overhear their animated conversation. But the transmogrification remained just a fantasy and no one really knows what the two were gabbing about.
Was it a film? The only time the two actors came together on screen was in 1993, in Ashutosh Gowariker’s murder mystery Pehla Nasha, a remake of Brian de Palma’s 1984 thriller Body Double. The film featured Deepak Tijori, Pooja Bhatt and Raveena Tandon in the lead and SRK, Aamir, Saif Ali Khan, Juhi Chawla, Rahul Roy and Sudesh Berry in passing appearances.
Was Shah Rukh trying to woo Aamir to come on his upcoming Hindi TV talk show, TED Talks India: Nayi Soch, which will air on Star Plus, as a speaker? The show is one of the channel’s big attraction this year since this is the first time the non-profit TED is collaborating with a major TV network and a star to produce a TV series featuring original TED Talks in a language other than English. Incidentally, the show Aamir had hosted earlier, Satyamev Jayate, had been telecast on the same channel.
Or was it a collaboration on the digital platform given that both are successful entrepreneurs with futuristic visions?
Their last collaboration was in April 2009 when they had joined the United Forum (the producerexhibitor combine) to address the issue of a face-off between producers and multiplexes over 50-50 profitsharing revenue. They were the principal speakers at a gathering of industry bigwigs, including the late Yash Chopra, Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Rakesh Roshan, Karan Johar and Sajid Nadiadwala.
UTV, Eros, and Indian Films represented the corporate power. KJo was the moderator.
Shah Rukh in his trademark fashion had urged the media at the gathering, “Aamir and I will share a car, we’ll probably land by the same flight at some destination or be in a film someday. Give your copy any headline you want, but please remember that the core issue here is that we are united in our fight for justice. Don’t miss the plot.”
The source informs that the previous night they had been together at Karan’s residence, completely in sync with each other as they debated what points needed to be raised and who would highlight what. “They are two of the sharpest minds and biggest names in B’town and their coming together as one voice was a big boost for the industry,” the source adds and further points out that the two have been friends for years.
In the years following Aamir’s separation from his first wife Reena, he’d grown really close to SRK. And after his headline-grabbing fight with Salman, Aamir had gone to SRK’s place with Salman and sat across the table with the warring duo trying to play mediator. “Maybe they didn’t visit each other frequently, but the communication channels were always open. It was never a casual friendship because both, in fact all three, have been more competitors than colleagues but they are over 50 now and equations stabilise,” the source notes.
Point out that the buzz is that since last year, after their wrestling dramas released months apart, there’s been a distinct cooling off between Aamir and Salman even as the former’s friendship with Shah Rukh is growing stronger, and the source insists that this is not true, reminding that Salman sent flowers to Aamir’s Dangal girls (Fatima Shaikh and Sanya Malhotra) and publicly declared that his family thought Dangal was a much better film than Sultan. “He joked on Twitter, ‘Love u personally Aamir but hate u professionally’. Shah Rukh is making a special appearance in Salman Khan’s upcoming release Tubelight,” notes the source. What about SRK and Aamir? Is something big brewing there? “Nothing yet,” the source signs off.