Wednesday, April 04, 2012
Will the real SRK please stand up?
He arrived as the lad with an impish grin and a boyish charm. His first release, Deewana turned prophetic – he became the iconic crazy and passionate lover. He defied norms when he chose to be the antihero instead of the archetypal hero. He might have lost the leading lady on screen, but instead won the hearts of millions in the audience. The hysterical mob of women who still swoon and scream at his arrival exemplifies the extent of his influence. He became a self-made superstar; the Badshaah of Bollywood, they call him. And why not? He is just living up to his name – Shahrukh (which literally means ‘face of the king’)!
He was my first crush, my first love! As mentioned here, DDLJ opened the world of romance for me; and for many other girls back then. Here was Raj – facetious yet intense, a complete tom-fool yet passionate. He was a bunch of contradictions that millions of girls craved for. Many feared and yet admired the obsessive love he harboured for his ‘Kkk…Kkk…Kkkiran’. ‘Haar kar jeetne waale ko Baazigar kehte hai’ – and he did win the hearts of many, although he died at the end of the movie. He was the innocent doe-eyed boy of Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa; he was the forlorn Devdas, drinking his way to death. He was the Don reprised; he was the stern and no-nonsense coach of Chak De! India. He was an ambitious NRI who came back to his Swades; he was the optimistic Aman, battling death (and love) in Kal Ho Naa Ho.
The best thing that happened to him was being labelled a romantic hero. The ‘lover boy’ image stuck, for he did many roles of the same mould. He was good at it – he only need do his typical tilt and spread his arms wide open (trademark SRK) and a thousand ladies could faint! The smoldering intensity in his performance, the passionate plea in his eyes – he sure knows how to woo a lady! Dil Se is one among his best performances as a romantic hero for the same reason. Few today have that kind of charisma and charm.
And that indeed was the worst thing about him – he got typecast as the romantic hero. DDLJ turned out to be a whopping success. It was followed by many others, with a hope of cashing on the charm – DTPH, KKHH, K3G, Pardes, Mohabbatein, KHNH, KANK et al were all variants of romantic plots, which were mostly hackneyed and turned tiresome for the audience. And coupled with the fact that he was a KJo and YRF favourite, he increasingly started working with them, leaving nothing much to explore – in terms of characters or other film-makers. There were a couple of movies in which he has played other roles convincingly – of which I think Chak De! India is a definite feather in his cap. I loved him despite his repeated romantic roles; it mostly appears the same, but I did find nuances in his romantic characters that I personally enjoyed.
So where is the man that I once loved? What is he doing now?
For one, he’s exploiting his stardom and endorsing products left, right and center. It is a case of stardom overdose when we see him selling paint, DTH connection, indoor furnishing, talcum powder, watches, biscuits, car, pen, fairness cream… all at once! I won’t blame him, for I think Amitabh Bachchan was (is?) worse. It also appears as if he’s not really looking for roles that challenge him; he’s more of a star than an actor. He’s happy doing movies that sell – I don’t blame that outlook. But I wish he’d also try growing more as an actor. Second is, he doesn’t know what to do – he probably wants to do something else, but nothing other than romantic roles come his way. He tried an ambitious Ra.One, which was more like a case study on Marketing/Advertising (turning out to be an eyesore!) than a movie worth appreciating. He looks visibly old (is his age getting to him?) and emaciated – appears outright arrogant even! He doesn’t mind hosting Film Award shows, the scripts of which are nothing but poor, distasteful jokes – it was funny initially; now it just looks lame and sad. He is in the news for all the wrong reasons: link-up with heroines (of which he had successfully steered clear, until now) and bashing people. In short, he doesn’t seem to be doing anything worthwhile. It is high time he changed his game plan – there’s only so much past laurels will help him.
Ah well; I still hope that he can turn it around. This is a once-upon-a-time (ardent) fan’s wish – Surprise me, Shahrukh! They say there's no love like the first. I think I can see why.