SRK – from an Analytical Perspective
There was a conference held at Vienna in 2012. One of the topic was titled ‘Shah Rukh Khan and Global Bollywood’. In a country like India which is heavily diverse by languages, races, religions and castes, an ordinary boy from a middle-class household becomes a superstar and goes on to be a face of Indian secularism is one of a kind example.
[One can access the official excerpt here: https://www.univie.ac.at/srk2010/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/PRESSenglishlongversion.pdf]
Aamir khan might have grossed four hundred crores or Salman Khan might be the greatest star for bollywood based on average earnings, but there is still an undeniable enthusiasm and curiosity shared by people for Shahrukh. The reasons lie in the roots where he came from and the series of actions he took. This is no way a comparison and we are not demeaning anyone. Factually, Salman and Aamir were born with the silver-spoon while Shahrukh was an outsider. Rejecting the oppositions and suggestions posed by the relatives and caretakers, he came to Mumbai. And what happened thereafter, the endless struggle and victory can beautifully be reflected by a dialogue from Black Friday, “Maamu kahani sunate reh gaye aur ladke ne chaand chum liya!” Globalization came into our homes at the times when SRK was entering industry. Computers were going mainstream. Ram Janmabhoomi Andolan was at its peak, the gap between Hindus and Muslims was broadening, Berlin wall fell down and Soviet Union had been dissolved. Global and local situations were erratic. And Indian Film Industry was no exception. It’s surprising to see how Glocal phenomenons affect the very things we’re involved with. Old stars like Bachchan and Mithun were on their descent. Identity crisis in the context of ‘Global Citizens or Indian citizens’ were starting to pop up. Here, Shahrukh emerged as an answer.
Shahrukh can also be seen as an endless stream of energy and charm. Now charm is very niche word. But if you want to know the generic meaning, go watch his movies. He addressed the NRI audience with the movies like DDLJ and appealed to Indian middle-class by portraying a dreamy guy with the movies like Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman and Yes Boss. A song from Yes Boss named ‘Bass itnasa khwaab hai’ explains the hopes of a typical Indian youngster (at that time) very well. His character from ‘Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman’ accurately represented an Indian mass dilemma between success vs values. His Sunil from ‘Kabhi haa, Kabhi naa’ called out to the commons to achieve something which is way out of your league, represented by bold yet beautiful Anna.
Shahrukh’s faces were successful in completely wiping out the fading Nehru-ite socialism and shouting for globalizing India. His rebellion thought processe presented the philosophy – ‘If you want something, then you should accomplish it no matter what comes along even at the cost of your morals and values’. On the similar lines, his off-screen image helped build his cult. He was never famous for politeness. He respected the seniors in industry but he never let the feeling touch him that he is inferior to them. He usually addresses himself as the best one or the King Khan. It was evident that the older generations built on humility and politeness wouldn’t have liked it. But the youth then, the people in their 30s and 40s now loved that arrogance.
He married a hindu girl and even tons of glamour wasn’t able to break that loyalty. He never made political statements even after being close to the Gandhi family. He never took a stand for problems of Indian Muslims. He was a star and remained one all his life. India is in a bit fluttering state with its nationalism vs religionism argument. If you closely observe, you can always find Shahrukh at the centers of these arguments. Even I like him sometimes and other times I don’t. I respect him for the world he built up from nothing. But I was also the one who wanted to abuse him after what he did on Wankhede. But I am quite sure that he is not a traitor. A person who works for underprivileged and the marginalised through his Meer foundation cannot be. An avid reader having a library of his own cannot ever be. And he was asked to prove that over and over because of his religion. There was a chaos when he once went into the Pakistan’s dressing room after a match and also when his IPL team gave a chance to Pakistan’s players. I even heard people saying, ”See, aakhir apne jaat pe chala hi gaya!” Other IPL teams also had few Pak players playing for them. But yeah, their owners’ name was not Khan. Similar things happened when My Name is Khan was released. He is mostly accused of things he never said, one of which was the statement about leaving the country if Modi becomes the Prime Minister. People still teasingly ask him about the time he will leave for Pakistan.
He is a superstar but he can still feel bad about these things. A person whose father was a freedom fighter surely sometimes would have wondered about his specific last name and the community he belongs to. It’s still a food for my thought that why do the people who have nothing for their name, who didn’t do anything useful for themselves and for the society and whose only definition for patriotism is to pay their taxes, usually put the collective responsibility of the community, religion and nationalism on very few artists, laureates or a sportsperson?
Shahrukh knows that he represents Indian Muslims to the outer world. He is not a perfect man. He has his own demerits. But don’t we also have those? So why the result for his mistakes is always a yelling for moving out? But still there are a lot of people who like him, love him, forgive his mistakes. Proving the fact that our country still has a tolerance. But there’s still a long way to go. Remember the incident with Aamir Khan talking about leaving the country?
There’s a scene in Chak De India. Shahrukh gives the interview for the post of the coach for Indian women’s hockey team and comes out with a friend. His friend touches a bit from his past while convincing him and says, ‘Ek galati to sabko maaf hoti hai yaar!’. To which, with a mix of helplessness and sarcasm, he replies with a half smile, ‘Sabko?’ and leaves on his old scooter from in front of the statue of Major Dhyanchand. You are wise if you can relate.
Anyways, the point is not to glorify SRK nor criticising him. Artists should be judged by their art and not by their personal lives. So, it’s just a take on few factual things on the occasion of his birthday. Happy Birthday Shahrukh Khan 🙂
(This post is based on an article by Amol Udgirkar, A scriptwriter for Phantom Films. Article Link: https://www.aksharnama.com/client/article_detail/513)