MUMBAI — Shah Rukh Khan was awarded the fourth National Yash Chopra Memorial Award, instituted by T. Subbarami Reddy in association with Anu and Shashi Ranjan of Gr8 Entertainment, at an event Feb. 25 at hotel J.W. Marriott.

The award carries a citation, a gold bracelet and a million rupees in cash to one recipient each year. The award, which has the blessings of the late filmmaker’s wife Pamela Chopra, has been previously given to Lata Mangeshkar (2014), Amitabh Bachchan (2015) and Rekha (2016).

Khan received the honor from the Governor of Maharashtra, Vidyasagar Rao, and Mrs. Chopra. Other celebrity guests on stage included Shatrughan Sinha, Simi Garewal, Padmini Kolhapure, Venugopal Dhoot of Videocon and Jaya Prada, most of whom comprised the selection jury.

Among the audiences were Ramesh Taurani, Sanjay Khan, (singer) Shailendra Singh, Anup Jalota, Udit Narayan, Alka Yagnik and filmmaker-actor Satish Kaushik.

Rao praised the contribution of Hindi cinema and called it the greatest exhibition of Indian culture and values. He said that actors like Khan do a great job in promoting it worldwide through their immense popularity and reach across countries. He also categorically dismissed the criticism that our films have an adverse effect on society. Rao was backed by Shatrughan Sinha.

While most of the speeches were long-winded, compelling Khan to state that it has been a long night (dinner started around midnight for a function that was to begin at 8.30 p.m. but did so well after 10 p.m.!), Simi Garewal, in a succinct speech, said that Khan had played everything from a hockey coach to a ghost, but was a far more accomplished human being than the versatile actor he is.

Rekha, who put a gold bracelet (a part of the award) on his wrist, recalled how, when on a flight with a group, Khan had woken her up “just to watch the sunset.” However, Khan stated that “today was the saddest day of my life as I have got a ‘rakhi’ put on me by Rekha!” He explained that he had woken her up then so that he could have a long talk with her and watching the sun had been only an excuse!

The actor was in his element even when Jaya Prada recalled him visiting her house years ago. Quipped Khan, “I could not say it then, and I do not know if I should say it now, but I had the hots for Jaya ma’am then!”

Khan termed the award “the finest I have ever received.”  He said that he owed his career to Yash Chopra as the filmmaker, while working with him for the first time in “Darr,” had told him that nothing will happen with his career until he did a romantic role. Khan admitted that he neither had the will not the confidence to play a lover-boy then but went by Chopra’s instinct. “Unlike the previous recipients, I am getting an award named after the man who made my career.”

Proud that he had done more films under Chopra’s direction than anyone else, he referred to him as a second father. He recounted how he had refused to shoot in Kashmir as his late father had insisted that they should visit Kashmir together. “I finally went to Kashmir to shoot for “Jab Tak Hai Jaan” with Yash Chopra-ji, who was like my father,” he said. Recalling that after the last shot of the film, Chopra had said that he had had enough of film direction, Khan said that at that time he had not taken it seriously.

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