It started out innocuously enough but soon magnified into a controversy of such huge proportions that even today Shah Rukh Khan does not collaborate with Firoz Nadiadwala. On January 11, 1997, the mahurat of Firoz Nadiadwala’s movie Raftaar was held at the Oberoi Towers in Mumbai. In attendance were the stars of the film, Sanjay Dutt and Akshay Kumar, Shiv Sena chief Balasaheb Thackeray, Hollywood heavyweight Steven Seagal and other prominent names like Juhi Chawla, Manisha Koirala, Mahesh Bhatt and Robin Bhatt. Needless to say, it was one of the biggest parties in Mumbai at the time and there was tight security. The attendees were frisked with metal detectors to check if someone was carrying a weapon.
WHEN SHAH RUKH KHAN arrived at the venue, he got beeped by the metal detector since he possessed a fully loaded gun. SRK’s trouser pockets were emptied when the security found the gun which the actor claimed he carried for his safety. Allegedly he explained that he had been carrying a gun everywhere he went since he had been receiving death threats from anti-social elements.
When the weapon was discovered, the security personnel began to throw their weight around and demanded an explanation. An irked Shah Rukh allegedly said, “Don’t you know who I am? I am Shah Rukh Khan!” To which the security guys apparently shot back, “So what? Why are you carrying a gun?” The name was of no significance to the security personnel who claimed they were just doing their job. They then demanded the license for the weapon which Shah Rukh failed to produce. This apparently went on for an hour. Finally SRK lost his temper and began to create a scene. He demanded that the hosts, Firoz or Sajid Nadiadwala, come to his rescue. Unfortunately, Firoz was busy with his guests and socialising with Shiv Sena chief Balasaheb Thackarey. An exhausted and terribly annoyed Shah Rukh allegedly exploded, “Who does Firoz Nadiadwala think he is? After all, he’s making a film with a convict (Sanjay Dutt) and a waiter (Akshay Kumar).”
THIS COMMENT DID not go down well with Akshay Kumar or Sanjay Dutt. One of Firoz’s assistants rushed off to report the incident to his boss who then allegedly informed Balashaeb. It was said that the Sena chief sent a polite but firm message to SRK to not create an issue or he would personally see to it that none of his films get released in Maharashtra. Reportedly, SRK yet again retorted with some foul language only to realise his mistake and keep quiet. He also apologised for being so rude. One can’t really blame Shah Rukh for being angry after being pestered by the security but perhaps he should have controlled his temper as the situation worsened after that.
Left with no choice, Shah Rukh personally went down 26 floors of the Oberoi Towers, retrieved his gun license from his car and produced it in front of the security. He then resignedly handed over the gun to the personnel and entered the party. SRK stuck by Juhi Chawla and Manisha Koirala throughout the evening since he had come alone minus Gauri.
BUT THE STORY was far from over. The next day Shah Rukh Khan and Firoz allegedly had a massive showdown. This time, Shah Rukh was shooting for Yash Johar’s Duplicate at Horniman Circle in Mumbai. Firoz was also shooting nearby for his film Kartoos, starring Sanjay Dutt and Manisha Koirala. The only common factor between the two was the director – Mahesh Bhatt who was helming both projects.
Firoz had maintained his calm the previous night but had supposedly not forgotten the incident. An absolutely livid Firoz allegedly confronted Shah Rukh and said, “What do you think of yourself? You ruined my party. You are out to sabotage my film. You embarrassed me in front of all my guests. Meri naak katwaa di…”; and so on. Not one to keep quiet, SRK allegedly flared up and shot back at Firoz. Onlookers said they almost came to blows but Mahesh Bhatt intervened and stopped them.
Later, a celebrity journalist managed to interview Shah Rukh, who had a totally different story to share about the incident. Shah Rukh said, “They had called a security guy who did not look like one. I took out my clip and handed over my gun and asked him to give me a receipt stating that he had my gun and that I could claim it back. The fight was over a receipt that he did not give me and not the license. Normally, I would never carry a gun to a party. But I did so because I had driven alone from Film City.”
When asked if he had called Sanjay Dutt and Akshay Kumar nasty names, the actor plainly denied the occurrence of any such incident. “Why would I call them a convict and a waiter? Jackie, Sanju and Salman are my best friends in the industry. Someone from the party must have put two and two together, getting five instead of four!”
Well, all we can say is, there’s no smoke without fire. And while this may have been his first big brawl, it was not the last!