Back in year 2000, Shah Rukh Khan had launched his production house Dreamz Unlimited with much fanfare. It was the case of three friends coming together, Shah Rukh Khan, Juhi Chawla and filmmaker Aziz Mirza, who had first come together for Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman. They decided to do things differently though as the new millennium had kick-started. Their first outing was Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani, a satire on the state of media, which – though highly relevant today – was way ahead of its times in 2000.
Their next film was a historical, Asoka, and this time around neither Juhi Chawla was the leading lady nor Aziz Mirza at the helm of direction. In came Kareena Kapoor and Santosh Sivan, but the results were just the same as the 2001 release emerged as a major flop as well.
This is where Rani Mukerji emerged on the screen. Incidentally, Aishwarya Rai was supposed to be the leading lady but as is a known fact, after the Salman Khan incident on the film’s sets, she was replaced by Rani Mukerji. This was quite some deja vu though as something similar had happened for Shah Rukh Khan’s other big hit, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai as well.
Back then, many actresses were approached by Karan Johar for playing the part that Rani Mukerji, a newbie back then, eventually did. On the other hand things were different in 2003 as now Rani was a major star. With Chalte Chalte, she was now playing a parallel lead with Shah Rukh Khan and though she was the second choice, this pairing also invoked quite some interest amongst the distributors as well as exhibitors.
The film’s shooting resumed with Rani in the lead now and the release took place exactly 17 years back on 13th June 2003. Music by Jatin-Lalit and Aadesh Shrivastava was already popular by then as songs like ‘Chalte Chalte’, ‘Tauba Tumhare Yeh Ishaare’ and ‘Suno Na Suno Na’ turned out to be major chartbusters. Audiences too liked what they saw in the film as a heartwarming romance with right dose of emotions like love, sadness and reunion was played out well. With a real treatment meted to it, the film struck a chord with the audiences.
Made at a budget of around 10 crores, some part of it accentuated due to re-shooting involved, Chalte Chalte took a good opening of 1.50 crores and went on to net double its budget. A lifetime haul of 20 crores was considered good enough 17 years back and though the film hasn’t enjoyed the kind of shelf life that many other Shah Rukh Khan romantic musicals have, it is still at least remembered fondly.
Surprisingly though, Shah Rukh Khan and Aziz Mirza never worked again after Chalte Chalte even though the film was a hit. Also, Dreamz Unlimited was dissolved and Shah Rukh Khan went solo with Red Chillies Entertainment. Though his first production here, Main Hoon Naa, turned out to be a big hit, an 11 year long association between Shah Rukh Khan, Juhi Chawla and Aziz Mirza, that had begun with Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman , ended in 2003.