I must at the very outset state in plain terms that I am not a SRK fanatic. Neither do I love his films and him to the point of hounding any soul who thinks otherwise, nor do I go about defending every controversial action of the Badshah of Bollywood. Yet, I would admit, that as a lover of Bollywood, films and commercial Hindi cinema, SRK is an integral part of the experience and magic of the silver screen that has me mesmerized since forever.
So what drives me to write this? This is a question I really don’t have an answer to. He has had his share of controversies of late, but then that has always been part of the SRK package aint it? His team has just won the fifth edition of an event that is best described as the dawn of the end of a very over rated national obsession. His films have met with unprecedented flak, his actions off screen have met with derision, disapproval and disgust. To cut a long story short, brand SRK is not really at it’s charming best in current times. Perhaps it is this that leads me to think, reflect and try in my limited abilities to gauge this giant’s contribution to my cinema.
For those who grew up in the 90’s, SRK is a phenomenon that overtook everything else. The most famous face to have graduated from the small screen to the big one, SRK charmed his way into our hearts. As a villain in Darr, Anjam, Bazzigar, he redefined the do gooder hero of the 80’s. As a lover boy with a heart of gold and a mind seeped in morals, he defined the youth in a nation on the brink of economic and mental liberation. As a brand ambassador of countless products on the idiot box, he changed the game of advertising forever, getting even legends like the Big B to follow suit. As a Super Star, he gave a whole generation of cinema goers a god for whom everything was forgiven always. As the quintessential Raj/Rahul with his arms stretched and dimples in place, he still is the stuff wet dreams are made of for a legion of female fans. Yet, one look at recent history of this megastar, and one wouldn’t be faulted for thinking SRK is the hated of them all.
And perhaps he is. The most reviled and hated personality currently in Bollywood is undoubtedly SRK. His slap-happy I care a damn arrogance hasn’t gone down well with anyone. His publicity overdrive fueled the more than needed panning of his magnum opus Ra.One last year. His films haven’t been the most awaited events of the year anymore, while the media seems hell bent on replacing him from his throne of the king with everyand anyone. So is it the end for the super star?
On the wrong side of 40, it indeed is the end of SRK the lover boy. Something that SRK needs to realize and understand. His brand of sugar coated candyfloss romance is outlived its expiry date. Action was never SRK’s forte and all of us expect much more than remakes of telugu/tamilsuperhits from him. All of us have had our fair share of SRK the entertainer- the man who could make us cry, laugh, smile, dance, romance and dream in the span of just three hours film after film. What none of us have ever gotten enough of however is SRK the actor. What this powerhouse of a man needs and deserves is a reinvention.
Aamir and Salman, the two other khans and the closest competitors to SRK, have both done this of late. Aamir is the cerebral super star who manages the moral compass of the film fraternity while Salman is the bad boy with a heart of gold and the midas touch. What the industry lacks today is a performer who transcends the make believe of commercial cinema and connects to the heart- an actor who is like us, not immensely nerdy, not brawny and muscular beyond even the scope of steroids, but real and believable. What we need is an actor who can make us believe in dreams again. Who can tell us that all is well with the world we live in, despite all our problems, which can make us believe that a team of girl hockey players can capture the attention of a cricket obsessed nation. Someone who can make gaudy opulence desirable, sappy situations charismatic and dancing on train tops a fashion trend. We need an SRK who can change with changing times not get stuck in his own image and past glory.
If one counts the super stars Hindi cinema has produced, Dilip Kumar, Rajesh Khanna, Amitabh and SRK complete the list without a doubt. Save for Big B, none of the others found it in them to reshape a glorious career and inched towards oblivion. Amitabh himself found it hard to reignite his stardom and regain his star status. SRK today is at the same cross roads, albeit in times that are far more unforgiving and brutal. One can only hope the star finds it in his self to smile through these testing times and emerge the winner as always. One can only hope SRK remains being the king forever.