Before Raees, Mahira Khan was hardly known, but after she bagged the role of Shahrukh Khan’s leading lady, the actress instantly became a household name in India. Many wondered how the Pakistani actress of the small screen bagged the lead character of such a big budget movie, particularly when Bollywood is stashed with powerhouse actresses like Deepika Padukone, Katrina Kaif and more. It turns out that it was Mahira’s lack of star status in Bollywood that helped her bag the role. Shahrukh told ANI during the Raees by rail promotions that they were in search of a fresh face.
“Actually kyunki film thodi realistic hai – jabhi hum aisi film banate hain jisme main hero-type role nahi kar raha hoon (aur) character zyaada uske upar havi rehta hai – maine note kiya hai ki directors, writers koshish karte hai ki jin heroines ke saath main kam kar chuka hoon, toh woh ek jodi si ban jaati hain. Sab woh uss jodi ko zyaada naam lete hain aur less character ke,” Shahrukh told ANI.
Watch Shahrukh talk about Mahira Khan here:
He added that for this reason the Raees team was scouting for lesser known stars, “Kyunki saari film (Raees) badi realistic hain, hum chaharahe thay ki koi naya face ho. I think unki (Mahira) ki acting hai, woh badi realistic type ki hain.” Yet, Raees isn’t the first time this formula has been used, as Shahrukh noted, “Jaise Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi mein hum chahate thay ki koi nayi actress ho koi, toh Anushka (Sharma) ne kaam kiya. Even Om Shanti Om mein, kyunki main ek struggling actor play kar raha tha, toh thoda aise lage ki established jodi na lage.”