Shah Rukh Khan turns 52: Sincere advice from a fan, to keep romancing beyond the stardom

Devansh Sharma

Nov,02 2017 10:06 09 IST

From his first film, Raj Kanwar's 1992 romantic drama Deewana, to his upcoming production, Abhay Chopra's whodunit thriller Ittefaq that releases on Friday, Shah Rukh Khan has spent half of his life in the lap of the Hindi film industry.

However, he has felt entitled to that lap as he did not have the luxury of being an 'industry kid.' Now, as his kids Aryan and Suhana reportedly gear up for their impending Bollywood debuts, he is left in a rather strange position. Should he, like Anil Kapoor, start playing father to young actors or should he continue to consolidate what has been his zone since the go — romance.

Shah Rukh Khan in a still from Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna. YouTubeShah Rukh Khan in a still from Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna. YouTube

It is no Ittefaq that he is the quintessential Deewana of Bollywood. Whether it is the psychotic lover in Yash Chopra's 1993 romantic thriller Darr, the boyish charmer in Aditya Chopra's 1995 blockbuster Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge or the bittersweet middle-aged romantic in Karan Johar's 2006 Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna, SRK has played to his galleries — as he is well-versed with every shop, every stop of those bylanes of romance.

But as he turns 52, is it rather wise of him to distance himself from this genre where age plays a crucial role in conviction. For example, the late Rajesh Khanna is arguably the greatest romantic hero that Bollywood has seen but it was a sheer pity for his fans to see him make out with Laila Khan in Rakesh Sawant's 2008 dud Wafaa: A Deadly Love Story, which went down as Kaka's last film ever.

It is not fair to take away from the innumerable times Khanna tried to shatter his image of a romantic hero. In fact, Ittefaq, the original film that inspired the remake that Shah Rukh Khan is producing this week, had Khanna don a completely different shade than his usual onscreen perception. But at the end of the day, he became a slave to his stardom and was forced to play to his perceived strength of romance, even at the age of 64.

All of Shah Rukh Khan's contemporaries have reinvented themselves in the new millennium. Though both Salman Khan and Aamir Khan started off as romantic heroes, they were forced to construct a new image for them after 2000, when Hrithik Roshan emerged as a major threat to their status of Bollywood's heartthrobs.

Both Aamir and Salman invested a few years in their PR and transformed themselves into Bollywood's thinking man and Bollywood's bhai respectively. Their cerebral and action avatars became the focal point of their stardom, a kind of metamorphosis SRK was never offered to undergo.

To his credit, he does experiment every now and then. Ashutosh Gowariker's 2004 social drama Swades can be considered a film from Aamir's zone whereas his latest hit, Rahul Dholakia's crime drama Raees, can pass off as a quintessential Salman Khan film. But when the dust settles, it is his perception of a romantic hero that takes precedence over the numerous attempts at reinventing himself.

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Shah Rukh Khan in a poster of Raees. Twitter@IAmSRK

But on his 52nd birthday, his fan would earnestly request him to continue his romance. Because romance transcends beyond just dancing around the trees with actresses half his age. It extends to a perennial romance of life that reinvigorates you whenever you encounter a downfall. It is the kind of romance that the late Dev Anand enjoyed — where he worked till his last breath, beyond the age of 90.

His fan would advise him to do another Hey Ram, where he played a supporting role to Kamal Haasan. He should continue to do a Dear Zindagi — Gauri Shinde's slice-of-life drama from last year —  in which he played a secondary role to a much younger Alia Bhatt. Age is just a number and that is why he should continue to play character-driven roles and at the same time, challenge the forces of time by playing a romantic character at frequent intervals.

But those romantic roles should not come across as desperate measures to remain relevant. These should be say, what a Robert Redford played in Ritesh Batra's Netflix original Our Souls At Night or an Amitabh Bachchan in Cheeni Kum. Both these characters were encouraged to romance at the age of 60 plus but they merely functioned within the framework of their respective character graphs.

A major roadblock that stands in Shah Rukh Khan's path to this approach is his ambition. It is not a little known fact that he is extremely ambitious and wants to be at the top of his game as long as he is relevant (which is forever, according to him). In that case, he might be tempted to play the quintessential lead role that might not be a smart move at his age.

Shah Rukh Khan in a still from Kal Ho Naa Ho. YouTubeShah Rukh Khan in a still from Kal Ho Naa Ho. YouTube

This fan would advice him to channelise all his ambition towards his production house and its competent VFX unit. Shah Rukh Khan has achieved groundbreaking success in VFX, with films like Anubhav Sinha's 2011 superhero flick Ra.One, Rakesh Roshan's 2013 film Krrish 3 and Maneesh Sharma's 2016 film Fan. Given his knack for incorporating thrills into the script or conceptualising action sequences, SRK can excel as an ideal force of a production house dedicated to the action genre.

That is why, just like with his VFX unit, Shah Rukh Khan should lend his production resources to other actors' films. For example, he can easily pull off producing a high-octane action drama starring Tiger Shroff, Varun Dhawan or Ranveer Singh. His taste in action is both stylised and raw which can work brilliantly as he can flexibly lend his expertise in both directions.

He has often admitted that he has no sense of script and screenplay. While that can prove to be a hindrance in his trajectory of an ambitious producer, he can always pawn it off to a creative team just like Karan Johar does with the commerce of Dharma Productions. Also, as his films in the last six years have proven, SRK is a marketing genius which is always an advantage for a production house.

As a fan, I would still love to watch SRK romance his heroines on the big screen and remind me of my first love every time, but I would hate it if it came at the expense of his career's longevity. But let me put it out there that I want the romance to continue because nobody romances better than SRK.

Published Date: Nov 02, 2017 10:06 AM | Updated Date: Nov 02, 2017 10:06 AM