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“It”s Like You”re Trying To Prove A Point”: An Open Letter To Shah Rukh Khan

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By Lata Jha:

Dear Mr. Shah Rukh Khan,

I want to begin by saying that I’ve loved you for as long as I can remember. And I shall continue to, always. You’re as much a part of my childhood and my growing years as the friends I made, the school I went to, the books I read, and the music I heard. Like the sights, sounds and smells of home, I’ve carried with me your performances, dialogues and unmistakable charm. You’re inexplicably dear to me. You’re the only guy whose posters I ever put up in my room. And you shall always be the only one. I’m told I smile like a retard each time I see you. And I’m not surprised. In a world that threatens to make it only tougher for me progressively, I have tended to seek a lot of joy in you.

I don’t hero-worship you. I look out for you like I would, for friends or family. I’m anxious when you falter, and ecstatic when you rise. As fandom studies would show, we’re a strange country. We love our celebrities like no one else. We bring them out of screens into our homes and hearts. This is why I know I’m not the only one who feels that for me and a lot of people belonging to generations even other than mine, you’re a part of our lives and dreams. We grew up watching and loving you. We hate to see you get hurt. We love it when you fight back and even more, when you emerge victorious.

SRK

There might be other competent actors and better films. But for Shah Rukh Khan loyalists, he matters much more than the quality of his work. So we try and make peace with a Don 2 and even a Jab Tak Hai Jaan. Because though we have our reservations about the films, there’s no denying that you make the entire movie experience worth while by just being there. By making it the event of the year for us, something we look forward to, irrespective of the frills.

What we cannot take is, have you embrace and endorse the frills and fear that we might be losing you. A Chennai Express hurts us. We don’t just hate to see your sensibilities get encumbered under mindless gibberish masquerading as comedy. What makes us really upset, is to see you stoop to this level. It’s like you’re trying to prove a point. All our lives, we’ve seen you as this effortless charmer. Why this sudden attempt to be cool and funny? You always were cool. You never had to try. Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge is one of the coolest takes we have seen on romance. Because it’s genuine and heartfelt. It’s not trying to be a classic. It’s this ordinary, simple film that we love to death.

Your latest release, on the other hand, is just the opposite. It’s not funny. It really isn’t. Not one moment in the film made me laugh. And I don’t say it was something I regret wasting my time, energy and money on. I’ll do anything to be able to watch you once a year. It’s something I look forward to.

But of late, with Ra.One, Don 2 and the newest monstrosity, I don’t feel I’m watching you at all. You’re just out there to prove a point. And which, despite what you say, is not to entertain your audiences. The point is to make more money than anybody else. The point is to be the biggest star and belt out the biggest hit, the most popular film of the year. And if slapstick, moronic comedies seem like the flavour of the season, so be it. I’ll get on to the bandwagon ( read train) too. Life was so much better when you were just an entertainer. Now of course, you’re this superstar who has to walk around with the weight of his stardom. He just has to be better than everybody else. And in doing so, he ceases to be himself.

By trying your hand at everything from mindless comedy to science fiction, it’s like you’re trying to tell us that you’ve moved so well with the times that you can give the people who rule these genres a run for their money when you dabble with them.

You don’t have to. Trust me, you’re the best. When we say we’d love to see you experiment, we don’t mean you should get into spaces that don’t deserve you only to prove a point. Swades is about being experimental, Chennai Express is just about being arrogant, overconfident and irrational.

It’s okay when other actors ask us to leave our brains behind when we go watch their ‘massy’ films. We never expected them to sweep us off our feet. We do expect you to. And we always shall.

In anticipation,
A face in the crowd.

You must be to comment.
  1. Abhisek Rai Akrant

    From what I have understood after reading this article, You can segregated in the disgruntled lot of people who kinda felt cheated after watching the movie because they were expecting a cinematic brilliance or an Oscar winning story, but they were appalled by the fact that there was nothing, just nothing in the movie. I am muddled by the fact that why this sudden hue and cry. SRK has come up with terrible movies like Paheli and Asoka in past, which forced me to stop watching his movies for sometime, but then I have always loved his acting despite the fact that he has repeated himself more than any actor in the world.
    In fact, he can get his name in Guinness Book of World Records for the same. Coming to your point, “OMG SRK has changed a lot”; I think he is trying hard to mould himself according to the demand of people. In past few years, he is coming out of his comfort zone. A ‘RaOne’ or Chennai Express is something new for him because that’s not his tried and tested “Lover Boy” concept. The next few years will be crucial for him because the moment he hits 50, he would start father roles or senior citizen role wherein a Ranbir or Ranvir or Varun will be the lead. These are the years wherein he can try hard and give some hit movies and leave the “herogiri” with `elan. I was going through an interview of SRK wherein he mentioned that he changed not because he intended to, but solely because it was the demand of viewers. It’s we the people who are forcing to reinvent himself. In this process of change, hardcore SRK fans are finding it hard to digest the fact that their hero is no aping his age old antics for what they loved and adored him. Although I want to sympathize these fans, but their sheer ignorance about practical realities irritates me.
    *Peace*

    1. Lata Jha

      I don’t see anything practical or real about the film. As I said, experimenting or doing roles that befit his age are things we’re all for. We probably just disagree on notions of ‘entertainment’. I didn’t go to watch the film, expecting cinematic brilliance of any sort. I went to have a good time and watch him do everything that he’s always done to make us smile. And I was disappointed, not disgruntled.
      Thank you for reading. 🙂

  2. Jay Mehta

    Could not agree any more with you. To see him join the bandwagon, so to speak, is just beyond my understanding. Off late, all that a majority of these high profile film stars look for is Box office success.

    1. Lata Jha

      Thanks, Jay. 🙂

  3. Aditi Thakker

    Since SRK has ventured into producing films, his focus has shifted from acting and entertaining his audience, to keeping his company financially viable. The amount of money spent on publicity for films like Ra.One and Chennai Express, explain the craze among people to watch these films. Add in a couple of catchy songs or item number and you’re sorted! Indian Cinema is soon shifting from producing quality films, to big budget profit making films. More than anything, it was just odd watching him in Chennai Express, (I haven’t watched Ra.One). SRK can do so much better than that and still keep his company financially viable.

    1. Lata Jha

      True, Aditi.
      Thanks for reading. 🙂

  4. Ridhi Murari

    I’d like to begin here by saying, as yourself, I have always loved Shahrukh Khan, since I was 3 years old, have followed his growth over the years and have seen him off screen and interacted with him as well. With all being said and done about him, I came across an interview of his recently where he was asked why he was doing Chennai Express, rather being sarcastically approached about it. He said that being a public figure, the audiences will always question what he does, whether he likes it or not but he has reached a stage where he has the choice to do whatever he pleases to. He has always maintained a stance of being in the industry to ‘entertain’ people and this movie was purely for entertainment purposes. From an unbiased perspective too, I believe Chennai Express was light, funny and had simple fun, a movie people can laugh off. It had its own flaws but which movie doesn’t ? Its not a movie you’d watch again and again but its good for a change. I think rather than making him fit into our expectations of him, we must go with an open mind to watch any movie for that matter, his or anyone else’s. We’re so used to the expectations we have of celebrities fitting into certain genres or types of movies that we find it almost despicable if they do not live up to that.
    Earlier people complained that he doesn’t act his age, at least he acts his age in this one. Can’t live life pleasing everyone now can he?

    1. Lata Jha

      I think we differ on our basic opinion of the film. So let’s agree to disagree on that.
      And had I not wanted to watch the film with an open mind, I wouldn’t have gone for it in the first place.

  5. Manak

    So i was never a big SRK fan.. i think most of the films he has put out in the lat five years have been rather moronic.. and thus if i ever venture into one now, it’s with a complete lack of expectation.. and well from that vantage point, Chennai Express was a bit refreshing. After being in total agony on watching just 5 minutes of the ridiculousness that was Ra One.. i was actually feeling embarrassed for SRK.. i felt that this one had its one or two funny lines, of course no story or plot, but was rather low on the stereotyping and bad jokes than i expected… and than i see in all the akshay and ajay and salman starer attempts at humour these days! The best part was that it didn’t pretend to be serious or take itself seriously. Also, as far as making a positive contribution to women’s roles go.. i think that little forced monologue about “os gaon ki betiyan azaad nahi hain, kyunki woh apne pasand ka ladka nahi chun sakti” was way WAY better than the “jee le apni zindagi” and the jumping from bauji’s lap to patidev’s crap! Something, they unfortunately chose to revive in Chennai Express.. on the whole i agree that SRK churns out horrible horrible stuff and that he and the audiences should be put out of misery now.. but well.. given a choice, i’d rather endorse this all out ridiculousness than the holier than thou DDJL. 🙂

    1. Lata Jha

      Good for you, Manak. Thank you for reading. 🙂

  6. Anish Chowdhary

    Mid life crisis is wat we call it….by the way…y so much angst againt Don2!!? It is one of those rare ones where he has done no overacting…and it was classy

    1. Lata Jha

      I’m sorry I don’t think so. But you’re entitled to your opinion.

  7. Pranav

    Accept this fact that while there are a few like you who didn’t like the movie, there are millions more who actually enjoyed it. Families flocking to the theatres to watch it shows that the movie succeeded in bringing what it promised- a wholesome family entertainment. It’s you who are being selfish, thinking about only “your” taste because the movie was not able to appeal to “your” senses. As the girl Ridhi Murari rightly said, walk into the theatre bereft of your expectations and prejudices, and you’ll always be able to appreciate any portrayal by anyone on the celluloid better.
    And as for the money-making part, nobody was sure that the movie will mint in so much. People were instead so skeptical that they had written CE off completely, touting it as another Himmatwala alike fiasco. If you would ask me, I really enjoyed the movie. The audience, of which I was also a part, was completely enthralled and smiled like a happy lot when they walked out of the theatre.

    1. Lata Jha

      Pranav, I think that on the contrary there are many like me who found the film painful and the fact that SRK chose to do it in the first place, upsetting. I’m not being selfish here, but demanding.I demand that the guy I grew up watching and loving fulfil my expectations. Why shouldn’t I?
      And considering the fan following he commands, it wasn’t surprising that the film’s made so much money. Every SRK loyalist will go watch the film once, no matter what.

  8. jeeka krishna

    For all the good things in the film…the credit goes to SRK and his charming personality and alll the bad thin gs are because of rohit shetty deepika padukone…the cameraman…the spot boy or may be even the screenwriter.

    1. Lata Jha

      Why would you say so, Jeeka?

  9. Tanya Ambastha

    I think its more about the promotions that follow. It is seriously annoying to find him on every show promoting a stupid movie(which is totally my opinion and I’m not imposing it!). Whoever wants will definitely go and watch your movie,there is absolutely no need for your presence on each channel to ensure this.

    1. Lata Jha

      You’re quite right, Tanya.

  10. Rachita Sharma

    why to make a fuss over a comedy movie which was only made for pure ENTERTAINMENT? why people are expecting some mind boggling performances, some ship of Theseus kind of fascinating story line with a movie made on sheer scales of fun and laugh. Chennai Express is one fun movie. at one stance, people like us are buying expensive tickets and letting it earn 100 crores (just overseas business) in 9 days, and at another level, we are calling it with terms like “monstrosity” and uncool attempt of a STAR. I mean just take a deep breathe and let all the tension wiped away with such full entertainer flicks.

    1. Lata Jha

      Again, I’d just say we probably have different notions of ‘entertainment’.

  11. yash shah

    I think we should make him watch some of his old films.. Darr, baazigar, ddlj, swades and chak de.. and then tell him “this is you! and not the guy who copies a stunt from the wolverine movie..”

    1. Lata Jha

      Wish we could do that, Yash. 🙂

    2. suman

      discussion on fb

  12. suman

    lata jha i’m a film student….big fan of tarantino and nolan….want to have a discussion regarding to this….i have pointed a few signature moves in srk’s recent trend of films

    1. Lata Jha

      Sure.

  13. Anoop P V

    Aditi Thakker – Hurts me when some one tells Indian Cinemas is going down taking into context Bollywood movies. There are brilliant, out of the box movies coming up from other industries. I would say do give an eye to those too 🙂 .. About the article , I do agree on that.

    1. Lata Jha

      I agree. And thanks.

  14. Saumya Sahni

    I must say that the letter written here comes across as genuine as it can be. The points which I have also been observing about King Khan have been very well articulated here. I personally feel that Shah Rukh is just trying too much. I also feel maybe he is trying to level his contemporaries. But I strongly feel that everyone comes with his own gift of talent. Shah Rukh is extraordinary when it comes to romance. But his recent choice of movies is sadly nothing but desperation. I don’t think so die hard SRK fans will really appreciate that.

  15. Hashmat Naiyareen (@Hashmat_Niya)

    I’ll post it on SRK’s twitter account… Hope he reads it there!!!

  16. Hashmat Naiyareen (@Hashmat_Niya)

    { In his intervie with Anupama Chopra—-
    Anupama: You have always had majority of ur fan following in the urba n educated people… Do u think this kind of movie will sway away or upset ur fans?

    SRK: My fans love me for what I do. And, so they will understand this is a phase I’m going through n they will accept me.}

    1. Lata Jha

      My questio is, why is he going through this phase?

  17. Hashmat Naiyareen (@Hashmat_Niya)

    I went to watch this movie the second day( Couldnt go on d first day coz it was eid)…. I love SRK that much that I only go to theaters to see his movies….. But i still feel this was a movie not meant for Shahrukh Khan. He’s above that!!
    And today when people ask me how was this movie I say “I wouldnt hav liked it if SRK was not in that film!!” 🙁

  18. Sriram

    Lata Jha, you forget that we have a large section of people who love such films (read Chennai Express). Too many people (read SRK fans) out there are happy for a film like Chennai Express. It is pathetic to say the least. I don’t love SRK, but Chak De, Swades and MNIK are his best films. I enjoyed it a lot. But, as soon as I see films like RaOne, JTHJ, Chennai Express, I fail to understand where his intelligence plummets to?

    I only reason I find is. the need of the viewers! The people have mercilessly encouraged directors like Sajid Khan, Rohit Shetty to make such ridiculous films. It is the people whom you should blame. Such directors deserve to be begging for work in some suburb of Bombay. They don’t deserve what they have. Moreover, the irony is that they are proud of such films and blame the “critics” for maligning their image.

    Finally, my point is that the sudden change that SRK is going through is the result of “public demand”. Your fav hero SRK is sold to the commercialization of Bollywood, just like many other actors.

    1. Lata Jha

      I’m sure there are people who actually liked the film, Sriram. Though I don’t understand how that is ever possible, I can’t fathom it.
      And yeah, we are to blame majorly. A lot of these films are attributed to public demand.

  19. Kinni Mehta

    And he should have a to-do list based on the approval of you/the likes of you because…..?
    Like you rightfully pointed out, he has all that he does and he experiments at the cost of losing the vote of you/likes of you, don’t you think he can afford it?
    Plus, can we not give it the benefit of doubt that the man’s idea of his career may be sharper beyond your understanding of it?
    Honey, you only bought the tickets and watched the movies and hung the posters, he toiled for those things. He is a self-made man, whereas you/likes of you study journalism and in the spare time, point out at every tiny fly that bothers your own nose on digital platforms. I think it is only because…you can? And oh, yes the digital world is a free space and the internet-connections come cheap now.
    He is a public personality but there must be a reason why he remains the smartest man in the industry, don’t you think?
    I understand that he often gives the impression that he wants to please and entertain people but maybe not so much. Okay?

    Honestly, this write up is more like a frustrated kid’s plea to get the same kind of chocolate they did at the grocery store 15 years ago, only the store now is supermarket, even a mall or even a fancy a chocolate factory.

    To you/likes of you, move on, Riteish Deshmukh is expecting for your attention, and rightly so.

    P.S: If I sound opinionated, it is just… well to quote you, “I look out for him like I would, for friends or family.”

    1. Lata Jha

      Kinni, he doesn’t need my approval. I never said he did. I’m voicing an opinion because I have the right to, and because I believe this is something that affects the saner amongst us. I’m sure as fans, there are many who see nothing wrong with his career decisions. I was in that phase for the longest time myself. But I’d rather have my love and fondness for him encourage me to act constructively than be blinded by it. He’s the smartest, the biggest and the best. The film’s made more money than any other. But we’re talking of a historic career here, a man who’s shaped and influenced lives. Even a bar dancer makes money, you know. He does not need to be a Ritesh Deshmukh ever.

      And well, yeah, I’m an opinionated journalism student. And very proud of it.
      Thanks for reading. 🙂

  20. Np

    Lata ji – Get a life! Achieve something BIG in life rather than commenting on tp bollywood. Its just a movie…there are definitely BIGGER things in life…Isn’t so?

    1. Lata Jha

      Films are an important part of my life. I don’t see why I shouldn’t talk about them. This has got nothing to do with achieving anything in life.
      Thanks for reading. 🙂

    2. Np

      Actually, I didn’t read 🙂 Films do play a major role in my life as well but I don’t like to waste more time if it is bad! Writing an article…waiting for comments…replying…ufff…kitna time waste!!! I am sorry for my rude language…

  21. TejR

    Abe Sharukh khan aur rohit shetty nautanki film banyinga, paise kharach kareinga, film release karienge, profit kamayinga, to TERA kya jayenga? I hate their films too, but i do one simple thing. Not Watch Them :). I don’t expect them to create masterclass movies. I have no clue why are you. Its not their debut film is it?

    1. Lata Jha

      I’m not talking of masterpieces here at all. I’m only talking of massy entertainers, which don’t necessarily have to be moronic, according to me.

    2. TejR

      I get your point of view and more or less agree. But the whole fact that you write this blog in criticism of a moronoic piece of crap of a movie proves the point that the movie has been succsseful in its purpose. Draw masses like you to the theater on the name of big stars. You contradict yourself and your perspective when you expect something interesting/lasting from these unapologitaclly stupid brainless entrertainers. How you stand away from the masses is not by criticising them but by having your point of view and standing by it. Next time watch some good movie with your well earned penny rather than watching a shah rukh movie just because u are a fan/whatever other reason which makes no sense. I like your style of blogging though. Very active engagement. Thanks

  22. Trisha Sengupta

    I have always loved SRK as an actor…right from the day of Circus. But, really the recent movies just doesn’t suit him. He is a versatile actor and that is what I loved most about him. I still believe that he is the last superstar of our film industry. But, I am waiting to see SRK in a role befitting him.

    1. Lata Jha

      With you on that, Trisha.

  23. Ashutosh Gupta (@TheAshutosh_G)

    I completely agree with you. However, I’m not a big fan of SRK but I get what you are trying to say. 🙂

  24. samb

    Dude he is Dr. Khan now! not Mr. SRK .. other than that i wish sharukh (i prefer to call him so without any Dr or Mr.) would read this!

  25. Ila

    Jab tam hai Jaan is worse than chennai express. You expect a senseless film out of rohit shetty but not out of yash Chopra.

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