Make him fly, make him cry,
make him stretch his arms, let him spread the charms.
And then give a latex suit. Aha, try that again.
It wasn’t very long ago when i had accidently discovered a picture of Shah Rukh Khan in my sister’s diary. Floppy hair, dimpled smile, casual attire – a working still from Darr which she had cut out from the newspaper and saved it in her diary (Do kids still write diaries?). And then there was a time when i would come back from school and would religiously play the entire soundtrack of Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge few times before settling down for lunch. Unlike others, I was never a die hard DDLJ fan but i enjoyed it till a teacher dissected it for us one day in college and said, he’s a sissy hero. Mama’s boy is here, he can’t run away with the heroine, he wants to impress her mom and dad. And over the years, SRK managed to do it in a better way – wooing the daughters, moms and mother-in-laws at one go.
Everyone loves the story of an outsider making it big in bad and bloody bollywood. But the problem with being big is that you start playing it safe – when bigger things are at stake, the mantra is give them what they want. In the last few years, if you have seen the kind of films SRK has done, it’s easy to predict that all they wanted him was to spread his arms, smile, nod his head and be the Prince Charming. Even the ham-fest was excused beacuse he could sweep you off your feet. Not us, ask your mom, sister, sister-in-law. It’s not that difficult to find a SRK fan.
His off screen personality is an advantage. He can speak at World Economic Forum and a jhopad-patti gathering with equal ease. Unlike other dodos of bollywood who have nothing much to say, SRK is spontaneous, can tackle any question and he just doesn’t get tired. And when the off screen personality becomes so huge, it’s difficult to imagine him in any character. Brand endorsements, appearances at events, tv shows, band-bajaa, 24 hours bollywood news, documentary on his life – he does it all and then uses the smartest trick to disarm his critics – self-deprecating humor.
The question is how much of SRK can you digest? Seems we can take it all and want some more. And if that’s the reason, why play around with your brand equity, SRK?
But if he doesn’t try anything new, we will say, enough of spreading those arms. If he does, it’s a mess. Remember Paheli, Ashoka, Swades to name a few which all turned out to be big duds at the box office. So is that the reason why Ra One is lets spread the arms, do the chamak challo and let’s try something new along with it? Maybe.
Problem is what do you do with a star like Shah Rukh Khan? Make him wear the latex suit, make him fly, and do endless jokes around the crotch? The only way to claim the throne?
But crass & crotch was never his mantra. He has often said in his interviews that he is not comfortable doing intimate (kiss/nude) scenes because he knows his audience is ma-behan–bhabhi-family audience. And that’s why i failed to understand what forced him to go for such extreme shift of gear and in such bad taste. I am fine with everything on screen but when you target the kids, you don’t play around with the crotch, gay jokes, condom-condom and booby key tricks. Do Aryan-Suhana approve of this humour? If yes, great. The man who taught us that it’s all about the dil, when and how did crotch became the ‘main part’? Disturbing signs indeed.
Apart from the role of eternal lover who can stretch his arms and let the music play, the only roles which has been able to cash in on his brand value are of two kinds – the irreverent and the menacing one. Main Hoon Na (without the Indo-Pak bit) and Om Shanti Om are desi comic book films filled with irreverent fun. Nobody takes nothing seriously and what a fun it turned out to be! It might be bit too early to say that Don is all about back to Darr-Anjam days, a sleeker version, and without the streaks of a violent lover – he is bad because he is bad. The idea of turning our dil-ka-hero into a superhero-with-a-hart was a great idea but then you don’t mess it up so badly – comic book meets family entertainer meets super powers meets sufi alaaps meets sci-fi meets god-knows-what. Even Spiderman has family issues, right? First things first, sack the writing team, SRK. Four writers and they could not design a conflict for the Super-hero?
And then get out of that cocoon of friends and family friends and friends of families. Yes, they will always wish the best for you but they might not be the best in the business. Time to try out new partners. Remember Chak De India – Before the film’s release nobody believed that people will come to watch 13 unknown heroines with SRK in scruffy beard. So why not a Vishal Bhardwaj, Raj Kumar Hirani, Dibakar Banerjee, Sriram Raghavan, Imtiaz Ali, Anurag Kashyap or may be someone completely new. May be they have some better ideas to Un-shahrukh the Khan and that too without the latex suit. Or may be a better latex suit for you if you decide to go for the sequel. It’s easy to appreciate the effort, the intention, and the grandeur of some of the sequences but nothing beyond that. Even the story idea was good but that’s about it.
Do it Khan, do it. Do it before it’s too late. The new generation accepts and discards super-heroes everyday. My 2 year old niece is already glued to tv for a robotic cat called Doraemon. This week she took baby steps in bollywood nursery as i showed your pics to her and now she can easily spot Sarook Kaan. After watching the film, as an afterthought i taught her the Rockstar move. Now every time we say Rockstar, she does the kiddie version of headbanging by violently shaking her head in all directions and ends the performance by removing her unkempt hair from the face.