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Chak De! star turns hero on burning bus (4/2/2009)
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Chak De! star turns hero on burning bus
By Bhuvan Bagga in New Delhi

EVERY tragedy throws up a hero. So when a DTC low- floor bus caught fire in the city late on Monday, one man risked his life to save the lives of several passengers who were caught in flames that had engulfed the vehicle.

A national- level hockey player, 26- year- old Shailendra Singh had a minor role in Shah Rukh Khan’s Chak De! . Shailendra played the Pakistani hockey goal keeper who saves Shah Rukh’s scoring attempt in the opening sequence. But on Monday, the reel life hero turned into a real life hero.

Caring two hoots for his own safety, Shailendra broke the window panes of the CNG bus that had burst into flames and evacuated passengers till the police came in.

He was passing by Mandir Marg when he heard a loud thud. “ I thought it was a bomb scare as I saw the passengers panicking and screaming for help,” he says.

Out of curiosity, he pulled up his Zen car to a side. Even before he could get out of his car, he saw the driver jump out of a window and flee. “ By the time I reached near the bus, I could see flames all over the front portion of the bus and people were screaming as none of the doors would open,” Shailendra says.

Showing presence of mind, he picked up two bricks from the pavement and broke the big glasses on the side and the rear end of the bus. As the glasses broke, first to jump out of the bus were the young men. “ Then some of the women came out.

But the toughest part was to evacuate the old, many of whom I had to help out.” Two elderly men were reportedly reluctant to come out and began searching for their lost baggage. Shailendra says he couldn’t think of anything better at the time than to pull one of them by his collar.

Shailendra left only after the police reached the spot as he had some personal business to attend to. “ The policemen took my number and said they would call me to record my statement, if required,” he says.

Shailendra — who is currently coaching Delhi girls’ hockey team and the Delhi University’s girls’ hockey team — has not been employed full time for the last four years.

“ I have represented India in a hockey test series against Australia, played Premier Hockey League for Delhi and am even playing for the Delhi state. I got two gold medals at the all- India university level as a goalkeeper. Despite all this, I don’t have a job,” he says.

He regrets when he couldn’t land a job with the Indian Railways despite being the best in his category. It was at that time Shailendra burned his hockey kit. “ I was so frustrated and did it out of anger,” he says.

The only time he manages to hold his smile is when he talks about working with Shah Rukh. “ I shot with him for three days. Mir Ranjan Negi sir had referred my name for the movie. Shah Rukh was so happy with me as all the retakes happened only because of him and, his wrong hockey stance,” he says excitedly.

“ I was auditioned by Shamit Amin, the director of Chak De! . On the last day of the shooting, Shah Rukh had a bet with me that he would get the balls to the goal through me. We had bet Rs 2 for each goal. He succeeded in only one of the five attempts,” Shailendra says.

So did he get his Rs 8 from the King Khan? “ Oh yes, in fact, we exchanged numbers as well.

And I have spoken to him after the movie was completed. He remembers me by my nickname Shailey. He signed a Rs 10 note and gave it to me. He said he would take Rs 2 back when we meet again,” Shailendra says.

Courtesy: Mailtoday newspaper

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