By Shalini Banerjee:
Dear Mr. Shahrukh Khan,
On behalf of all the loyal fans that you have accumulated over the years, I would like to say “hats off to you!” I have been in awe of you since 1995. I was a small kid, five years of age when my entire family decided to visit the nearest single screen to catch the latest Yash Raj Production, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge. My family was besotted with Yash Chopra’s films, and they didn’t think twice about purchasing tickets in black. People say that memories from childhood start to fade as time passes. But this particular event remained forever etched in my mind. I fell in love with the charm and the ease with which you pulled off the role.
I had no idea that what I had just witnessed was indeed a film. I thought it was a real life thing. That it actually happened and that you actually sang songs during the entire film. The intricate concept of filmmaking was completely lost on me. So imagine my shock when within a few years I realized that your name is not Raj, and you are not married to a Simran. I spent the entire day crying, as my reality seemed to fade before my eyes. I once again saw you weave magic on screen in various other movies and kept on assuring myself that one day, very much like the first film I saw of you, Kajol would realize her love for you and both of you will live happily ever after.
Meanwhile, the frequency of watching your films grew with every passing year. The toughest moments of my life was when I watched Kal Ho Na Ho. Seeing you die on screen could only be attributed to a painful realization of mortality.
I was the one who dragged my family to watch your films. All through the years I have remained loyal to you. I have watched each and every one of your releases. And the ones that I did miss, I made it a point to catch them later on.
As your career and your magnanimous personality, I, too, grew up. I am as old as your career in Bollywood, and yet the charm has not faded. I am still in love with you. People often question my sanity over my decision to remain faithful towards my star. They ask me what’s so special about you? Why am I your fan? They say all your films are marketing gimmicks, and you are definitely not the best actor in town. Not the best dancer neither the best-looking actor either.
I would like to address all of these questions through this letter. Why did I become your fan? Who knows? All I know is that I have learnt a lot from you. You are not my god (I don’t have any!), and I have not set you up on a pedestal. I love you because you are as human as the rest of us. You make mistakes; you admit your mistakes; you are not perfect! And that is what I love the most. I love the fact that you do not hide behind a smokescreen of cultivated polish and are a brat openly.
You have taught me to embrace my flaws and still go strong. You have taught me to live my life with energy and zest and that a passion for life can often make one each for the stars. You have taught me to wear my heart on my sleeves and do so unabashedly. You have taught me to appreciate the under-appreciated and to recognize the contribution of all those around me. You have taught me that a cool brain and a calm exterior can result in the best of ideas.
I have learnt so much from you. I have learnt from your mistakes and your success. I have laughed with you, cried with you and grown up with you. People often don’t understand why I adore you. I agree with them. You may not be the best dancer or actor. You may not be handsome either. But you are the best entertainer and performer. Beyond films, when you appear on paper or television, my eyes remain glued to you. Why, you ask? To learn. You are like a walking encyclopaedia for me. I am a sponge. I absorb whatever knowledge I can.
Some people ask me, why I never question your choice of films? Why do I still watch the comedies that you keep rolling out? To say that I have never questioned your judgment would be lying. But what no one realises that the amount of hard work you put into those films has gone so thoroughly unappreciated. They may not have worked out to be the darkest or the most substantial movies of the India screen, but they were entertaining nonetheless. You never promised to do character roles; you never said you would only do substance films. But you did promise to entertain your fans. And entertain us you did!
I caught the first-day-first-show of Fan. And my feeling while watching the movie was that of pride. I felt proud to call myself your fan. I felt proud that no matter what happened with your movies and personal choices, I made the decision to stick by your side. You retaliated against the world that had been judging you all this while by delivering this masterpiece.
I was proud of your struggles, of your efforts, of the thoughts and the ingenuity that was put into this film. I was proud that as a fan, I watched my superstar embrace the dark side and emerge victoriously. I was proud that you had the guts to pull off a double role with shades of grey. And I was proud that even after everything, you still acknowledged your fans…
On your behalf, this is what I would like to say to all your haters, criticizers and those who have lost faith in you – “If you like Shahrukh Khan, raise your hand. If you don’t, then raise your standards.” And if their skulls are so thick that they do not comprehend this message, then as a parting gift I would like to say, “Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, tum nahi samjhoge.” Or maybe something more recent – “Rehne de, tu nahi samjhega.”
With lots of love,
Your Evergreen ‘FAN’