Dear Shah Rukh,
From watching you jump off a helicopter and run into your mother’s arms in “Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham” to seeing you host awards shows with your inimitable charisma and wit, I have admired you both on and off the silver screen for several years now. The manner in which you have established yourself in an industry that often determines one’s success based on the family that they are born into, is an inspiration. Every time I am asked to host an event, I instantly channel your “Filmfare energy”, which I’ve grown up watching. That I come nowhere close is a different story!
Yet, in today’s intellectual world, being a fan of yours has become a one-way ticket to ridicule amongst one’s peers. Shah Rukh Khan fans are ridiculed about how their baadshah has started making formulaic movies. The fact that a Shah Rukh Khan film is incomplete without your characteristic running sequence or a shot of you with your outspread arms, is reiterated in every single conversation about your movies. I know because I’ve watched silently as it’s done to others in my friend’s circle. I’ve been a closet fan for some time now, just waiting for that cinematic masterpiece from you that will set the record straight.
The extent of your popularity is such that any group of youngsters in India will most definitely have at least one die-hard SRK fan. These are people that I genuinely admire and whom I am grateful for because their presence means that the group is forced to watch your movies. When the die-hard in our group suggested we go for “Raees”, I carefully measured my response. The fact that I would watch it was never in doubt, but I had to maintain that uninterested façade as well.
As we settled down into our seats, I was quietly optimistic that this would be the masterpiece I had been waiting for since “My Name Is Khan” came out. The trailers looked good and the fact that it was a biography meant that there would be greater character depth, something that has been lacking in your past few films. However, as I came out of the theatre, I couldn’t help but think that it hadn’t lived up to its potential. I had prepared myself for an entertaining albeit nuanced portrayal of the Mumbai underworld. But to my disappointment, I was served up yet another formulaic film.
In recent years, both Aamir and Salman Khan have evolved their style of films. Aamir has begun to take over the creative process behind a film. Thus any Aamir Khan film is not influenced by his acting but his input in all other spheres as well. Salman has begun selecting stories that almost always have a socially positive message.
I know that hits have come easy with films like “Chennai Express”, “Happy New Year” and “Dilwale”. But, all of us need you to make more proactive choices with your films and their stories, because films have the power to shape ideologies and condition thinking amongst a vast portion of their consumers.
Recently, my other childhood hero Roger Federer gave me great joy, when he triumphed over Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open. The world seemed to be right again! Federer last won the Australian Open in 2010, which happens to be the year “My Name Is Khan” came out.
I’ll just wait because I know, picture abhi baaki hai mere dost.
With love and respect,
A die-hard fan trying to break out of the closet.