The question brought a wide grin on Swati's face. "Shah Rukh," she blushed.
And, believe me, she wasn't the only one who felt that way.
My colleagues, Sukanya, Kulsum and I had set out to randomly poll which star was more popular – Shah Rukh or Hrithik?
After asking 50 people, we had in figures what we already knew. Both of
them were running neck and neck in their professional battle for the numero uno slot.
"Shah Rukh acts so well and he looks so good!" gushed Swati Jain, an FYJC student. "I think I will definitely go for Mohabbatein!"
His fans insisted that Shah Rukh is an established actor and cannot be compared
to Hrithik, who is only a newcomer.
"Hrithik is the current number one, but we have to see how long
he lasts," reasoned Sonali Bhatt, a bank secretary.
"He is such a good dancer – my children just love him!" said Sonali Chavan, a young
housewife, while her daughters, aged five and eight respectively, grinned happily.
Most of the middle-aged women we spoke to like SRK because he is "very handsome
and acts very well."
Nirmala Deshmukh, a school teacher, said, "He
has a certain charm that really attracts people."
Which was not to say that Hrithik's fans adore him any less. One of the most popular reactions to our questions was, "Hrithik has such a great physique and he dances so well! Mission Kashmir will definitely be a hit!"
"I really like Hrithik Roshan. He looks so good and acts well too," said Vinita Shah, a housewife.
"But I have a feeling he is just a passing craze," cautioned Sangeeta Reddy, another housewife.
"But he is the current number one!" Pooja Shetty defended her hero.
"I love Hrithik," squealed seven-year-old Neha.
"I love him, too," roared her five-year-old brother, Varun. When asked why, Varun said, "He fights very well!"
Cheryl Pinto, aged 19, likes Shah Rukh "as he has done a variety of roles and excelled in all of them. See, now he's doing a mature role in Mohabbatein, so I would love to see that film."
"I agree," said Flavia D'Souza, a 20 year-old-college student. "Hrithik is doing too many terrorist roles. He should start playing the romantic hero."
Eighteen-year-old Adarsh Nath was vehement: "You can't compare Shah Rukh with Hrithik. Shah Rukh has been around for so many years, while Hrithik just arrived! Experience does matter. That's why I prefer Shah Rukh."
Of course, Hrithik's followers weren't hard to find. "I love
Hrithik because of his screen presence. And he is very good-looking!"
said 17-year-old Mallika Sahni.
"And he is a very natural actor," said Manisha Kamat. "I would prefer to go for Mission Kashmir,
And the war rages on...
Photographs: Jewella C Miranda