“When Shah Rukh Khan looks at a woman, you want to be that woman” said a popular film actress of the icon who epitomizes romance on the silver screen and beyond – and needless to say, she certainly isn’t alone in feeling so.
The “king of romance”, “The Baadshah of Bollywood”, “King Khan” are just some of the many labels and names bestowed upon him by the followers of the Indian film industry and not without reason.
The fact that he makes every Raj or Rahul, the iconic and quintessential romantic hero, with women between the ages of 15-65, gushing over him, is just part of the larger than life persona that embodies Shah Rukh Khan.
Actor, superstar, producer, entrepreneur, businessman – he is all these and so much more and what is astonishing is not that he is so multi-faceted but the ease, aplomb and passion with which he performs all these roles.
“If you like me, raise your hands. If you don’t, raise your standards.”
Classic and witty SRK.
EVER SINCE HIS EARLY YEARS IN THE INDUSTRY,he took risky decisions with an inherent confidence and defied the image of the conventional hero by playing the negative character of a vengeful boyfriend murdering his own girlfriend in Abbas-Mastaan’s Baazigar (1995). The film went onto become a huge hit at the box office and not only fetched SRK his first Filmfare Award for Best Actor, but Hindi cinema also found a new lead character in an anti-hero. It was considered as the unthinkable and an ‘insane risk’ to play negative characters as a ‘hero’ by his peers, for SRK it was a choice that appealed to his sensibilities as an actor and resulted in hit films like Anjaam and Yash Chopra’s Darr.
Slowly but surely, this Delhi-boy sans a god father or any cinematic lineage was working towards establishing his place in the Indian film industry. He was on his own and he had to do it all alone- but on his terms.
This was just the first of many “firsts” for the superstar, who has never shied away from pushing the envelope, going a step further and always thinking outside the box.
THIS IS NOT TO TAKE AWAY IN ANY WAY FROM THE SIGNATURE TRADEMARK SRK ROLES that he has enacted in countless hit romantic films namely for the Yash Raj Banner and Karan Johar’s Dharma Productions, and that are, in fact responsible for catapulting him to fame, fortune and stardom. Blockbusters like Dilwale Dulhania Le Jaayenge, Dil Toh Pagal Hai, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Mohabattein, Kabhi Kushi Kabhi Gham, Veer-Zaara and Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna are just some of the romantic family dramas that made Shah Rukh the audience’ darling. Though he played the honest, committed and diehard lover in these movies, he made each character as endearing as the previous one and added something different to its nuances that not only won the masses’ hearts, but also brought him awards repeatedly (a staggering record of 14 FilmFare awards among many others as well as a Padma Shri in 2005 by the Indian Government)
In his own words
“I don’t sit around complaining about the lack of good roles. I will play Raj 85 times and still make him different”
THE LATE YASH CHOPRA, WHO HIMSELF WAS ONE OF TTHE MOST PROLIFIC AND SUCCESSFUL FILM DIRECTORS happen to romantic Hindi cinema, never directed a movie without SRK in it since 1994. Theirs was more of a father-son relationship that translated beautifully into the films they made together and it was only befitting that his last directorial venture Jab Tak Hai Jaan, also featured Shah Rukh Khan.
In today’s times where crass sensationalism, both on-and off-screen are rampant, to be able to avoid explicit cinema and keep the rustic charm of love and romance alive is something that only a Shah Rukh Khan can pull of and make it all look so effortless and natural.
Even though we love him and want to see him reprise the romantic drama hero avatar endlessly, he has given his fans enough variety to satisfy their cinematic appetite by taking on roles outside his comfort zone – and done justice to these in true superstar style too.
HIS CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED ROLE OF ONE THAT INDULGED IN THE SPIRITS IN DEVDAAS, a NASA scientist in Swades, as a disgraced national hero and hockey coach in Chak De India, an ordinary Indian American suffering from Aspergers Syndrome in My Name is Khan, all proved to be a hit with the masses and the classes alike. Commercial success and critical acclaim, both make him the phenomena that he is.
His thirst for experimentation transcends films and has led him to venture into the world of business by putting his entrepreneurial abilities to test and even there he has found success and how.
A PART FROM HIS DAY JOB of that of being a mega star, delivering blockbusters at the box-office, he is the co-chairman of the motion picture production company, Red Chillies Entertainment and its subsidiaries, and is the co-owner of the Indian Premier League cricket team and former champions, Kolkata Knight Riders.
Sources close to him say his mind is never at rest. He is brilliant and he makes sure he uses his intellect to its fullest and then some. SRK is not a person; he is a brand. An entity that is an ever-present celebrity, be it through his films, television and media appearances or business interests. His every move is closely monitored and reported by the media and his fan following, domestic and global, is phenomenal. His movies are dubbed in German, Russian, French, Polish and Arabic. He was voted the most recognisable face on the planet and has the largest number of followers on the internet.
The Government of France has awarded him both the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (2007), and its highest civilian honour, the Légion d’honneur (2014), while the University of Edinburgh awarded him with an honorary Doctorate, lauding his efforts in the entertainment industry… his list of accolades and achievements is endless.
His house, ‘Mannat’ in Mumbai is a landmark, a Mecca for his ‘followers’ and he is ever so grateful for that:
“I’d die if people didn’t recognize me. I would not be able to walk on the road if people didn’t mob me. That’s what I work for.”
His up-coming movie, from the Yash Raj Banner, directed by Maneesh Sharma, titled FAN incidentally revolves around a similar plot, where SRK plays himself – a mega star of Bollywood and is adored, loved and stalked by a ‘fan’ of his. How this ‘fanship’ takes an ugly turn, while exposing the dark side of heroworshipping is the central theme of this film. The promos look slick and intriguing and the audiences are already anxiously awaiting the curtain raiser for this one.
He is respected and admired by his colleagues and co-actors and his female co-stars adore him. From Juhi (his best friend) to Madhuri, Rani, Aishwariya, Sushmita, Deepika and Anushka, they all sing his praises – And of course Kajol, who, despite her husband Ajay Devgan having ‘professional differences’ with SRK, has been the latter’s closest and dearest friend, and most frequent leading lady onscreen. Such is his persona and charm.
Sensitive, witty, funny, intelligent, successful, charismatic and handsome; Shah Rukh Khan is simply amazing. He is super stardom personified and as all men at the top of their game, he gets attention from all quarters. As he aptly puts it:
“You can love me or hate me but you can’t ignore me”
O’ Shah Rukh, we couldn’t ignore you even if we tried- but we wouldn’t want to- ever. We love you way too much!!