If you grew up in the 90s, learnt the significance of Valentine’s Day and Karwa Chauth from Yash Chopra’s films, played Tujhe Dekha Toh Je Jaya Sanam in loop on your tape recorder, wasted your grandmother’s knitting wool to make ‘friendship bands’ and believed with all your gut that ‘someone somewhere is made for you’, then in all probability that ‘someone’ in your head very much resembled Shah Rukh Khan.
Shah Rukh, over the years, has brought varied characters to life on the celluloid. From being the anti-hero in Darr and Baazigar to the restraint portrayal of a Nasa scientist in Swades or from being the modern day Don to playing a differently-abled character in My Name Is Khan, SRK’s acting skills have always been par excellence. But what works most for him is his romantic image.
Rightfully called the ‘King of Romance’ almost every romantic film that he had starred in has been an instant hit and audiences have not only loved it but also remembered it. Shah Rukh’s romantic image first gained acceptance with Aditya Chopra’s Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge and then there was no looking back. With Yes Boss, Pardes, Dil Toh Pagal Hai, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Mohabattein, Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, Devdas to yet to release Jab Tak Hai Jaan to his credit, Shah Rukh Khan is undeniably the romantic hero of our age!
But what makes Shah Rukh such a romantic? Why does every girl skip a beat when he deepens his dimples and delivers those mushy-mush lines which if told in reality by a regular guy would make most of them burst into peels of laughter.
Perhaps, what works most for Shah Rukh is being Shah Rukh Khan. And the stories about him that we have grown up reading. These are the SRK stories from before his Salman-bashing days. Before his cricket-affliction.
Stories of not the IPL team owning, Pepsi endorsing, Red Chillies heading Shah Rukh Khan. But the ones that spoke about a simple guy from Delhi who fell madly in love with a girl, who despite several objections to the relationship from the girl’s parents, did not give up, neither eloped, but married her after informing her parents about everything. How very DDLJ‘s Raj-like, many might think!
Shah Rukh Khan’s story – poor little boy who gets the girl, the big house and the fancy car – is one hundreds of middle class men day dream about, knowing well that fairytales don’t exist. His characters – that Raj and the Rahul – were boyfriends you would never have. After all, how often do you find a buffoon with a heart of gold? How often too would he know just the right things to say? How many men did you anyway know who would make for a cute daddy, cute best friend and cute boyfriend, all rolled into one? Would dance without looking stupid and strum the guitar like a dream? Not many outside a Kuch Kuch Hota Hai possibly.
He might have just gone a little bonkers with that hideous eight pack in Dard e Disco, but there’s enough Raj-Rahul candyfloss in our lives to forgive it. Shah Rukh Khan makes day dreaming seem a little less wasteful. Cynics and self-proclaimed Bollywood sceptics will find a thousand nasty things to say about SRK and people infatuated with him- I can understand if they’re still fuming over the Rs 300 they spent on Ra. One. It means they have also never liked a good love song – of the Bollywood kind.