Amidst the surreal fancy world that films depict, don’t we all crave for something true? Who doesn’t want to experience a slice of authenticity amidst all that is programmed narrative? Cinema unfolds a tinge of yearning every-time we sit pop-corn filled where dreams fall at our feet and where hopes converge with life’s beautiful colors.
But, while as fans we expect the brightest stars on the cinematic galaxy to take us literally “over the moon” every Friday, as actors, not everyone has the fuel to power us to a splendid dreamy-eyed journey. But, there is a man who has risen greatly in life’s greatest pursuit of entertaining his fans unfailingly. Given his genuine love for making great movies, he has added his own colors of heartbreaks and triumphs to turn box office cinema and those whose are connected to it- into- an epic display of cinematic grandeur.
He hasn’t merely entertained, he has tabled his life for the magnificent display and admiration of his fans who measure in billions. They hail both from the country he comes from and those whose countries have looked up to his for the cheerful aura and ‘unputdownable’ image of Bollywood that he has often rescued from obscurity and stoked with triumphant adjectives with his talent.
It’s been two and a half decades since this “Deewana” arrived on the celluloid screen. But in these two and a half decades, where he has sky-rocketed to fame and established his forte as one of India’s finest charisma’s on the screen and even off it, he has dispelled frivolous opinions that questioned our cinema’s power to attract global audiences.
Through his triumphs; his big movie hits and an appeal that seems to get more prominent in India as in the West, each passing year, this Khan has inspired millions who carry to Bollywood their a bundle of nerves and blue-eyed tinsel town dreams. In the West, they simply call him Shah Rukh, but here in India, where movies often set tonality to our mood; dampening it and lifting it with candid appeal, he is called “King Khan”, his surname pronounced with zeal, passion and endless smiles sans the religious undertone- from the epiglottis:)
An evergreen star – Shahrukh Khan
One cannot say that Shah Rukh Khan will ever grow old. Well, in numerical oddity that is unavoidable, Shah Rukh will certainly age and will grow old in those bones, but given his endless reserves of phenomenal energy that he has used to his best, in giving audiences some of his best, if his ultimate best in the truest sense is yet to come, Shah Rukh, who has been entertaining fans for nearly 3 decades may never tire out. In giving fans cult hits such as Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998), Kal Ho Na Ho (2003), Veer Zara (2004), Pardes (1997), Chennai Express (2013), Dil Toh Pagal Hai (1997) and many more hits including his timeless DDLJ, he has turned 50 and it seems he’s hardly broken sweat.
Implicit in his inclination toward making magnanimous cinema is to appeal to the sentimental psyche of his audiences. They look up to him as King incarnate of Romance. Seen as an enchantment of love in mortal form, Shah Rukh’s tear-dripping and heart-wrenching personifications of Rahul’s and Raj’s have turned him into a suave stylist of romantic cinema, whose fragrance envelopes an entire Switzerland, France, Germany and Malaysia and United Kingdom where legions of fans look up to Shah Rukh, and thus back at India- with awe.
A Mighty Heart
The 50 year old Bollywood scion and “Emperor indestructible of Romance and Love” was once a common Delhi boy who fancied big dreams to take what was once Bombay and now, Mumbai-by storm. With no Godfather around to sail him through and just his ferocious appetite for hard-work, Shah Rukh managed to see off his troubles, which were aplenty.
Greedy, not for fame but for starring in a sizeable role that would caste out his initial disappointing phase in Hindi Cinema, Shah Rukh’s legendary triumph boasts of tragic stories woven with euphoric triumph. The daring actor lost out on his parents to aggrieved spells with fatal illnesses. Khan’s father, a pathan, who taught his young son to never give up and always attempt everything in life with a lion’s heart, fell to Cancer and soon, his doting mother departed for the heavens.
This left Shah Rukh visibly gutted and listless. Despite having to look after his differently abled sister with no real support coming in from relatives, save for few life-long buddies, Khan never gave up and maintained a fighting attitude, foraying ahead in search of himself in a Bollywood that consumes everything in its wake; dreams, hopes and ‘ to be’ careers.
All his life, Khan has been an interesting personality who uses his wit and wisdom to break ice and stand his ground whether he’s appearing on TV or for a social cause. Once a winner of the “Sword of Honor” at Delhi’s St. Columbus where Shah Rukh was a student par excellence and a competitive athlete, he further proved his mettle with significant performances by excelling at Hockey, dramatics and even Economics, clearly not the easiest of subjects to master.
A gifted orator and a charming go-getter who would never refrain from expressing himself, Shah Rukh charmed wife Gauri, his lady love for 28 years and mother to two wonderful kids, when he first met her in his late teen years. But even in impressing his only girlfriend, Shah Rukh waged an uncanny war.
It is said that since he was far from finding his calling during the struggles of the late eighties and early nineties, Gauri ran away to Mumbai with her pals, escaping a hot pursuant in Khan who came to the ‘city of dreams’. Who would have thought that the dreamy eyed Delhi boy would sit atop the throne of Mumbai’s grand film industry.
In a Mumbai that can crush hopes amidst the dizzying heights that one wishes to conquer, Shah Rukh persevered unfailingly and finally found his calling as a lead actor who could do it all; sing, dance, console a friend, a loved one and even cry with them to ease their troubles.
Shah Rukh has gone from being man ordinary to actor par excellence in a movie world where holding an illustrious resume means more than being everyone’s favorite. He has the respect of his co-stars and even Mr. Bachchan with whom he has flexed his acting muscles in Cinematic gloss such as Mohabbatein and Kabhi Kushi Kabhi Gham.
From wooing Kajol in multiple screen appearances, to forming an affectionate bond with Hrithik and Rani (K3G), to crisis-crossing Indo-Pak borders to find his lady love Zara (Veer Zara) to being the ideal son every Maa would want (remember the speech in KKHH), Shah Rukh wears cool weathers on his shoulders that have ably carried the burden of mega budget blockbusters.
It is these glorious heights that he has conquered and one from where he stares into the ocean as seen from his fortress “Mannat” that he deciphers life’s ebb of lows and many tumultuous highs whilst glaring at the divide of the suburban dreamy Mumbai and the Bombay as seen from the charms of its old front; the town. This magnanimous divide that he has reduced by bringing people closer to his world through the canvass of his films- pushes him to explore depths of human emotions. It is here that his greatness lies as an actor who treads often on a path less traveled and traverses amidst a litany of on-screen challenges and his own life’s responsibilities, both of which he handles with customary poise and deep conviction. In pursuit of his life’s greatest pleasure; making ‘larger than life films’ he has still maintained humility and a profound grounding.
King of Romance, Star of several path breaking genres
Winning Filmfare awards no longer fascinates him. He has already bagged 14 awards and 30 nominations or his melodic love affairs. He’s been Yash Raj’s Man Friday for orchestrating with his soulful eyes – the voice of love. In Karan Johar, a Director with gravitas Shah Rukh has spun many memorable flicks that have reigned supreme on the box office.
The third iconic Khan in closely-knit coterie of actors that includes Salman and Aamir, Shah Rukh is as persistent with his creative collaborations with directors-producers who weren’t his first-hand choice a few years back (Rohit Shetty, Farah Khan) as he is with his hitherto successful attempts at massacring box office with 200 crore plus on movie collections, with “Chennai Express”, “Happy New Year” ; films that worked with dollops of no- brainer cinema minus the typical Shah Rukh Khan flair.
But the man, who enjoys a Wax replica in London’s famous Madam Tussaud’s has intelligently struck feisty collaborations with movie-makers who don’t always dish out the tried and tested Bollywood formulaic servings. In Subhash Ghai’s 1997 epic Pardes, Shah Rukh’s Arjun rescued the grounded Ganga, with his dimpled smile and cushy comfort of his welcoming arms, lifting single-handedly a girl left distraught by life in the West. He tacitly bridged the fleeting distances of emotions and amicability between the rustic East and the indifferent West by repairing hearts as only he can with distinguished exuberance and understated candor.
Unfortunately, in his most sincerest attempts of shining his stars with verve in galaxies they don’t frequently inhabit, Shah Rukh hasn’t done brilliantly, despite being the brightest star in an entire, hitherto less-visited universe, such as films like Swades and Asoka.
In Santosh Sivan’s 2001 box office tragedy, Asoka, where Khan lifted the veil of his love dripping iconoclast image by donning Emperor-turned- Buddisht Monk’s hat – essaying a powerful unglamorous avatar in one of the most endearing and least understood films in a long time, he experienced the depth of commercial failure.
In Romance, unquestionably the most established veneer of his acting craft where Shah Rukh has turned daft attempts of film-making into timeless marvels that delight as much as they inspire awe, his simple heartfelt portrayals backed by flawless script narration didn’t bring him the results he deserved.
2004’s Swades, easily his best performance coming in Gowarikar’s moving tale about a NASA Scientist who returns to his roots (India) from Washington DC’s commercially successful but hollow heights that gave him everything he became in life, Shah Rukh raised box office mojo without the lovey-dovey, rose tinted dreams that have often boosted his screen-craft. In his compassionate portrayal of Mohan Bhargav, Khan swept past an America that had the financial exuberance but not the warmth that only a heart-wrenching India could offer to the parentless self made hero’s mellow heart. Joining forces with villagers on the grass root level, whilst fighting societal evils and casteism, an ever imploding India’s faceless enemies, Bhargav helped his fellow friends in Charanpur (Uttar Pradesh) light their bulb; and paved further way to embrace change in the developmental sense in a nation that has often remained miserable to.
Every man’s hero
He isn’t the greatest acting sensation, nor is his acting devoid of the magical imprints that rescue films from heaps of ordinariness. But, in Shah Rukh Khan’s massive success, lies the hopes that we seek from films to save us from despair and heart-breaks that often seek in us their divine communion.
But a thing can be said for certain.
Through his construction of monuments that stand on pillars of romance, Shah Rukh has brought the world closer and made it a place where dreams rise above heartbreaks. His love for his fans and their irreplaceable love for him has trespassed geographical boundaries and conformations to religion, caste or creed. You aren’t a Muslim or a Hindu when you love Shah Rukh who is both your deeply moving Rizwan Khan and the unmistakably charming Raj and whose audience bears the same heart regardless of where their faiths lie- be it a Church, Temple or Mosque. Shah Rukh’s movies have defied limitations that threaten our heroes to survive against odds and throughh his attempts to probe certainties of love by risking against it heartbreaks, and even failures he has showcased utterly moving personifications of the victory of good over that of the uncertain and unexpected. Even in sporting shades of grey, such as the one’s in Darr (Yash Chopra banner), SRK’s celluloid DNA comprised of eclectic colors and vividness that curtailed audiences’ vengeful reaction to his most damning act on screen till date.
He enabled Squadron Leader Veer Pratap Singh (Veer Zara) to trespass barriers existing between an India and Pakistan separated by indifference and self-created misleading constructs on both sides, to meet his beloved Zara having still being left listless on that train station in Punjab. He pushed his Rizvan Khan (My Name is Khan, 2010) to clear racial indifference’s relegated to one of the most beautiful and poignant people’s here on Earth, his character pushing envelope of human perseverance despite suffering from Asperger’s syndrome.
In his highs, we have successfully beaten our own ebb of lows. It remains to be seen, where Khan will take audiences as he continues to navigate amidst tectonic shifts in film-making toward narratives that shall forever seek in SRK- their own chances of succeeding.
(sketch credit: Rajnikanth)