Shah Rukh is intelligent, practical: Australian bodyguard in OSOFebruary 29th, 2008 - 9:26 am ICT by admin
By Steven Baker
Mumbai, Feb 29 (IANS) As Farah Khan’s “Om Shanti Om” releases on DVD, complete with a 16-page booklet that gives an insight into the cast and crew of the movie that has come to be known as “OSO”, I caught up with one of the stars of the film: Simon Hewitt. Simon who? Shah Rukh Khan’s Australian bodyguard. That’s he.
Movie buffs will recall Simon as the foreign bodyguard who appeared constantly by the side of Shah Rukh’s Om Kapoor character in the blockbuster. Clad in a black suit, with ever-present dark glasses, the tall Australian-born actor (measuring 6.3 feet) cuts an imposing figure on celluloid.
At the scheduled interview location, a Mahim coffee shop, on the edge of Mumbai’s “filmi” society, the patrons’ excited whispers of “Om Shanti Om” rebounds as Simon enters.
So how does a 30 something Australian end up in the biggest Bollywood film of all time? “I got the part through an audition,” Simon narrates, “In fact, I got a couple of films for SRK’s production house Red Chillies in that one audition; the other being ‘My Name is Anthony Gonsalves’ “.
Simon, who swapped Melbourne for Mumbai four years ago, says, “I knew it was a big film. The hype was huge before we had even finished it. But who could have foreseen the circus that was to come following the release.”
Looking back on the experience, Simon reflects, “I shot for 25 days over about four months. I had no idea what the film was about while I was shooting. In fact, it seemed a bit silly, but of course at that stage I didn’t know that it was deliberately tongue-in-cheek.”
But of the superstar himself, Simon says: “Shah Rukh seemed like a nice guy, a good mix of being both intelligent and practical. In one of the shots, he fixed my sunglasses when they kept falling off my face.”
Along with many other fans of Khan, Simon shares the view that the star is approachable. “I felt him to be busy but not stressed.” Hailing from a foreign background, Simon accepts: “I didn’t have the same awe of Shah Rukh as the other members of the film and would often sit next to him to watch the monitors.”
“Farah, on the other hand, used to stress me with her microphone.” The actor remembers a time when he was suddenly needed at the last minute to shoot on the “Deewangi Deewangi” sequence.
For those of you who came in late, the song was picturised on 31 of the industry’s hottest stars. However, Simon was out of town and could not be contacted. Fortunately, Farah was forgiving when she found out that Simon’s date problems were the result of an outdoor shoot in Bangalore with none other than Aamir Khan.
It is not everyday that an actor gets to shoot every single one of his scenes with screen idol Shah Rukh and that too with no dialogue. “Twenty five days’ shooting and not a word spoken. That’s got to be some kind of a film record,” joked Simon.
“Actually, the script said I was to say one word. I remember when it was time to shoot that section, Shah Rukh laughed and said live it up, knowing it was the only word I would get to say.”
And Simon’s last word on SRK? “The guy is pretty mellow”.
(Steven Baker can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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