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When Shah Rukh Khan and Leonardo DiCaprio almost starred in a film together, but

Shah Rukh Khan has often joked that the only reason he never pursued a career in Hollywood is because his English is poor. While that’s just him being self-deprecating, SRK actually came close to making a major Hollywood debut with a planned film titled Xtreme City.

The film would’ve been co-produced by none other than Martin Scorsese, and directed by his old collaborator Paul Schrader, who is best known for writing Taxi Driver. It would’ve featured Shah Rukh as a don, and co-starred Leonardo DiCaprio, who at that point already had a long and successful creative partnership with Scorsese, as a cop. So, why did the project fall apart?

According to an NDTV report from 2011, the core creative team met in Berlin to discuss the film, which is where pictures of SRK, Scorsese, DiCaprio, Schrader, and co-writer Mushtaq Shiekh emerged from. Shiekh, who was co-writing the film with Schrader, told NDTV, “We are all elated. This is the best news I have heard in a long time. Martin loved the script and it meant the world to me as the writer of the film along with Paul Schrader. But when he comes in as the producer of the project, then I am thrilled as it takes the film to another level completely. Inshaallah, all goes well from here onwards. Fingers and all parts of the body crossed.”

Shiekh further described the film’s storyline in a 2011 interview with PTI. He said, “It’s a different kind of film, one where both Indian and American protagonists are balanced human beings and the story treats them in their full complexity without either culture being diminished or taken for granted. It’s a cross-cultural thriller designed for both Bollywood and Hollywood. And if we get it right, this will be an attempt at true global entertainment.”

Xtreme City was supposed to be co-produced by SRK’s Red Chillies Entertainment and Scorsese’s Sikelia Productions, and ultimately, this might have been a major reason behind why the film never actually took off.

In a 2013 interview with Open Magazine, Schrader reflected on the planned project. “Well, in the end, I don’t think Shah Rukh wanted to make it. It was really up to him, and I just got the feeling that he was never going to be comfortable doing an international film that he didn’t control. You know that everything SRK does, he has total control over? So if he did something like this at an international level, he wouldn’t have that control. I think in the end he wasn’t that comfortable not being a hundred per cent in control. We did have a script, which was a hundred per cent paid for. We also had a meeting with SRK and Leo in Berlin, but neither of them actually ever committed. There was a lot of waiting—maybe they were waiting for each other to commit, but it never quite happened.”

Schrader said that he subsequently met Salman Khan for the role, but talks didn’t proceed beyond a point because that would’ve meant that SRK would be out completely.

Neither Shah Rukh nor…

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