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'I worked hard to match Shah Rukh'

By Ronjita Kulkarni
April 30, 2003 19:24 IST

Mumbai's J W Marriott Hotel was a flurry of activity on April 29. The reason? Shah Rukh Khan was to address his first press conference post his successful surgery in London.Shah Rukh Khan, Rani Mukherji in Chalte Chalte

The conference was held to announce the music release of his home production, Chalte Chalte. Dressed in black, Shah Rukh played the perfect host with director Aziz Mirza, who co-produced the film with SRK and Juhi Chawla, lending a helping hand.

Incidentally, all of Mirza's films -- Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman (1992), Yes Boss (1997), Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani (2000) -- have starred Shah Rukh and Juhi. Chalte Chalte stars Rani Mukerji alongside SRK.

The film is about two individuals with different personalities. Raj (Shah Rukh) is impulsive, hardworking, emotional. Priya (Rani) is sophisticated, prim and proper, practical. They fall in love and marry. Which is when the problems start, as their disparate natures clash. Small irritants between them begin to take on bigger dimensions. Saathiya, anyone?

Aishwarya Rai was originally signed on as Priya. Rani replaced her after Salman Khan interrupted the film's mahurat shot and created a scene, accusing Shah Rukh of getting too friendly with his girlfriend.

When asked about it, Shah Rukh joked, "The only difference was that when Rani came in, I was not required to wear high-heeled shoes. Seriously, Rani was actually the first choice for the film. But the film was delayed and Rani Mukherji, Shah Rukh Khan in Chalte ChalteRani got busy with other projects. When we finally started the film, Rani was free, so we roped her in."

Chalte Chalte's music -- and the song Tauba tumhare ishare in particular -- is already creating waves.

Jatin-Lalit, who have composed the music for all Aziz Mirza films, have done Chalte Chalte as well. Composer Aadesh Srivastava -- Jatin-Lalit's brother-in-law -- has lent a helping hand while Javed Akhtar has penned the lyrics.

Jatin-Lalit have also composed the maximum number of hit songs for Shah Rukh's films, including Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and Mohabbatein.

"We have a wonderful rapport with Azizbhai and Shah Rukh," Jatin said. "They had some of our songs, so we have tried to use them here."

"All Azizbhai's films have messages," he added. "He always makes films about relationships. This reflects in the films' music. Chalte Chalte is about a married couple. It talks about how small things affect a marriage but how, finally, love prevails."

Jatin-Lalit admitted creative clashes did take place during composing the music, but none of them were serious. Lalit gave an example, "In one of the songs, Azizbhai loved the words Sajana sajana. But Javedsaab told him he would change the words and Azizbhai would still not reject it. He then came up with Chalte chalte on the same notes. Azizbhai had to accept it because it was the name of the film. The song became the film's title track."

Chalte Chalte is Rani's first film opposite Shah Rukh as a solo heroine. "I really worked hard to match Shah Rukh's talent and energy," she said.Rani Mukherji, Shah Rukh Khan in Chalte Chalte

Rani played the second heroine (Shah Rukh and Kajol were the main lead) in Karan Johar's Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. She also made a special appearance in Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham (Amitabh Bachchan, Jaya Bachchan, Shah Rukh, Kajol, Hrithik Roshan, Kareena Kapoor).

Shah Rukh has made guest appearances in Raj Kanwar's Har Dil Jo Pyaar Karega (Salman, Preity Zinta) and Shaad Ali's Saathiya (Vivek Oberoi).

The only person conspicuous by her absence was the much-pregnant Juhi Chawla.

Ronjita Kulkarni