The director of a new Gujarati play says the superstar is the perfect tool when talking about a father-daughter relationship
"There's this girl in my building, now 35, who even today is obsessed with Govinda. She would want to watch his films first-day-first-show, and every time the actor would be scheduled to make a public appearance somewhere, she'd get there to meet him and click pictures," says playwright Kamlesh Mota. "She was never successful [in meeting him] because it's a big city and to reach out to a superstar is not easy."
The cast of I Love Shah Rukh, which includes Krishna Kanabar, Mahek Bhatt, Riddhi Vora, Gopal Parmar, Babul Bhavsar and others rehearses ahead of a performance
The obsession, however, did give Mota, who has previously directed Saraswatichandra and Hum Bhi Kuch Kam Nahi and worked with the likes of Reema Lagoo, Priya Tendulkar and Rohini Hattangadi, fodder for a script. I Love Shah Rukh is the story of a motherless girl who is so obsessed with an actor that she searches for snatches of her father in him.
He could have picked any actor to play the superstar, but Mota zeroed in on Shah Rukh Khan.
"I interact with a lot of youngsters. I realised his appeal for them, especially the mature ones. Perhaps, due to the romantic characters he has played," says the 52-year-old.
Mota adds that SRK's acting skills may not be much to talk about, but the characters he has essayed in a three-decade long career provokes the viewer. "Look at Chak De! or Swadesh, where, as Mohan Bhargav, he helps everybody without greed, or in Main Hoon Na, where as Major Ram, he takes care of his family. He evokes love and respect in you."
The protagonist in Mota's play, I Love Shah Rukh, falls in love with Kuck Kuch Hota Hai's Rahul — the single father who drops all work to be with his child when she is unwell. "She is in love with SRK but she is not sure what this love is. It is not romantic love, for sure. She is searching for a father-like figure like him in her own life,"
says Mota, adding that the girl sports no pictures of the actor in her bedroom, or even her computer. "He is just in her mind and heart." Her family, however, thinks it's romance.
The situation gets complicated when the daughter, haunted by the fact that her dad will be lonely after she gets married and leaves home, asks him to get married. The father doesn't want a replacement for his wife.
SRK becomes a tool to bring daughter and father together. A daughter, who falls unconscious after a slap from her father, and who may not retain her memory once better. "The story, in fact, is more about child psychology," says Mota.
He wouldn't categorise himself as an SRK fan, even though he has studied his films. The script, written by Pritesh Sodha, says Mota, includes inputs from other artists in the theatre group. The play which was staged at the National Centre for Performing Arts (NCPA) last week as part of a Gujarati theatre festival will now see the stage after May, since soon his actors will be busy with exams.
Asked if he ever obsesses about anyone, he lists out a few names — Vikram Gokhale, Nana Patekar, Darshan Zariwala, Paresh Rawal. "I wouldn't say obsessed, but I like seeing them on stage. I have to catch all their plays. And, Reema Lagoo… She seems to become more graceful and beautiful with every passing year. It's admiration, I suppose. I want them all to act more so that I can see more of their work. Perhaps not the kind of obsession one talks about in the play."