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Clash of the Titans:

 Shahrukh khan vs Hrithik Roshan




Shah Rukh Khan

It's the sort of clash the Indian film industry hasn’t seen in a long time. At least, not since the 70’s with infamous rivals Rajesh Khanna and Amitabh Bachchan. This time the two contestants are reigning superstar Shah Rukh Khan and the nations newest heartthrob, Hrithik Roshan. 

Both Mohabbattein (Aditya Chopra’s second film starring Shah Rukh), and Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s Mission Kashmir starring Hrithik was released during Diwali week. This is the first time the two stars were in a head-to-head  confrontation so its bound to be an exciting moment. The producers, distributors and filmmakers in particular are waiting with bated breaths for the verdict! 

There have been rumours flying about how Shah Rukh’s popularity has plunged since Hrithik came on the scene. As director David Dhawan says, “It’s obvious that his image gets a little dented given the hysteria Hrithik’s appearance has created. This is one fight to watch out for!” So insecure is King Khan these days, it’s rumoured that he’s joined a local gym just to get into shape!

Interestingly, Indian film history has been witness to the fact that every time an actor establishes undisputed supremacy at the box-office, nature throws up competition that shakes the very basis of their success. Fame and loyalty is extremely fickle, and normally turns into a fight for survival of the fittest. 

So it isn’t surprising that Shah Rukh after a decade of unprecedented reign finds a newcomer (at first known simply as Rakesh Roshan’s son) taking the nation by storm. Hrithik has merely proved that nature has its own ways of balancing the act. 

Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s decision to release his film on the same day as Mohabbatein, is a deliberate bid to cash in on the rivalry between the two stars. Vidhu Vinod Chopra, despite a disastrous Kareeb behind him, has managed to sell Mission Kashmir for a whopping 2.5 crores in Mumbai. Simply because Hrithik stars in it. 

Hrithik Roshan

Suddenly, everyone is unsure about Shah Rukh’s status. While the producers’ eagerness to shift sides and the cola war between the stars (remember how Pepsi made an ad with Shah Rukh, spoofing Hrithik?) shows their uncertainty as to the outcome. 

Is Hrithik a bigger star than Shah Rukh? That is the million dollar question for which an answer was available after Diwali. But, is it fair to write off Shah Rukh’s ten year solid box-office record in favor of Hrithik’s one super-hit, one semi-hit, and one hit film? 

The fraternity of filmmakers and fans are not bothered about such logic though. Kareena Kapoor walked out of two movies with other heroes to accommodate Kunal Kohli’s film next year, co-starring Hrithik. Even Shah Rukh’s close friend, Karan Johar has signed Hrithik for his film Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham to add that touch of youth and glamour. 

Sceptics insist mass hysteria is no yardstick for lasting success, and point to Kumar Gaurav mania after 1942 - Love Story…and who then faded into oblivion just as speedily! They also point to other established No.1 heroes, from Dilip Kumar to Rajesh Khanna to Amitabh Bachchan to Shah Rukh Khan, who had below average to average success in their debut films. A slow and steady rise to the top gives success a more solid foundation, they argue. 

Not everyone agrees. “The way Hrithik is handling his career, it doesn’t seem like he will fade in a hurry! He’s focused, he’s trained and he’s very clear about where he wants to go,” says Karan Johar, a hard core Shahrukh loyalist. 

Whatever the conclusion, Shah Rukh Khan seems to have changed his survival strategy. Instead of competing with a younger hero who is all the rage, he has cut down on his assignments drastically and hasn’t signed a single film in the last eight months. In its place, he’s focusing on his role as a producer and adding the finishing touches to his Ashoka-A Love Story. 

While the long-term effects of both strategies are debatable, the question of whom will win remains. For every vote in favour of Hrithik, there’s a dissenter. Remember: “Just because Baskin & Robbins comes up with new flavours every week, vanilla ice-cream doesn’t go out of fashion, does it?” 

Hold onto your popcorn.

After winning 4 nominations for Filmfare Award, Hrithik is on a hot seat and more likely to win the Best Actor Award for the year 2000. Shahrukh Khan has also been nominated for Mohabbatein for the Best Actor. Let's see who will win the Best Actor Award for 2000.









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