‘All he does is repeat himself’
‘He is a manipulator, a master planner’
‘When would he do something serious?’
‘He likes working with only fixed set of people’
‘It’s sickening to see him on screen all over again’
‘He is too competitive; he literally kills competition’
Ok, so he has box office power but what has been his contribution to cinema?’
‘Ever since his entry in the industry, he has turned everything into a commodity’
‘It’s all over for him now; he couldn’t have expected to stay on for duration longer than this’
From 1992 (since he made his big screen debut with Deewana) till December 2011 (when he arrived with Don 2), Shah Rukh Khan has gone through a dozen odd
statements like above (and a lot more) on a consistent basis. Hits or no hits, popularity or the lack of it, appreciation or hatred, following or envy – Shah Rukh Khan has faced the
brunt of critics, junta and industry folks alike in the couple of decades gone by. Having said that, what has also been consistently (and conveniently) forgotten, ignored and
avoided over this time period is the fact that such brickbats and criticism have been from a handful of folks. There has been immense goodwill, reputation and credibility that
Shah Rukh Khan has built over last so many years, something that not many actors of current generation can proudly proclaim.
This is why when statements like the one to follow are mouthed; they (perhaps) don’t end up making as much noise as negativity does:
– Film after film, Shah Rukh Khan has broken the opening weekend record of his last film
– Each of his last 10 odd films has belonged to different genres
– He is the only top superstar to have worked in a song less affair (Chak De India) in the last decade
– In the decade gone by, the only films with Shah Rukh Khan (in lead) that haven’t worked are Swades, Paheli, Asoka, One 2 Ka 4 and Phir Bhi
Dil Hai Hindustani
– He is the only top superstar to have done maximum number of special/guest appearances (all for friends) – Dulha Mil Gaya, Luck By Chance, Bhoothnath, Krazzy 4, Heyy
Babyy, I See You, Kaal, Kuch Meetha Ho Jaaye, Saathiya, Gaja Gamini, Har Dil Jo Pyaar Karega
– He has played ‘Raj’ only thrice (Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, Chalte Chalte, Mohabbatein) in the last decade
Moreover, there are figures, statistics and soaring (international) popularity to boast of, something that can well be analyzed in four distinct phases: 1992-1995, 1996-2000,
2001-2005, 2006-2012. As is apparent, while the volume of his major successful films has only soared with the passage of time, the disappointments have been far and few.
Major successes – Deewana, Darr, Baazigar, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, Karan Arjun
Major disappointments – Anjaam, Zamana Deewana, Oh Darling Yeh Hai India, Guddu, Trimurti
Shah Rukh came in the time when creating a niche was the biggest challenge for any actor. There were no multiplexes, cable TV had just been launched and movies were being
career on a high. The other two Khans – Aamir and Salman – had begun well as romantic heroes and were already sitting tight on this very small market that existed in that time.
Underworld presence in Bollywood was at its peak and the biggest of all, Shah Rukh Khan came with looks that were as unconventional as they get.
This is when he decided to do something that no actor in the past had done before. Begin as a romantic hero (Deewana), get visibility, bring on some grey shades in
another release (Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman), gain some critical acclaim, pick up relatively smaller but important roles (Dil Aashna Hai, King Uncle) and all of a
sudden strike hard and strike with venom in two major back to back outings – Baazigar and Darr. Everyone was surprised, even the ones close to Shah Rukh Khan
– the person. No one expected him to throw his girlfriend off the terrace (Baazigar). No one expected him to play a psycho (Darr) with such Ã©lan that the cry of
‘Kkkkk…Kiran’ has stayed on to be most repeated (and copied) for almost two decades now.
Box office success came in a big way and though his Anjaam was cold shouldered (since it came way too quick after his aforementioned negative outings), Shah Rukh
Khan continued to experiment. He picked up a surreal film Oh Darling Yeh Hai India and though one may argue that in current times (and with somewhat better
execution), this interesting subject (about selling off of India, well literally) could make a much better impact, the fact remains that it stays on to be one of the biggest box office
disasters of Shah Rukh Khan. His Guddu went completely unnoticed while his first ever magnum opus, Trimurti, fizzled out after a massive opening, the man was
readying himself for more surprise. And this surprise was Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, a film that changed the way Bollywood functioned.
No wonder, in the history of Indian cinema, whenever a phase would be defined, it would be as a pre-DDLJ and post DDLJ phase. 850 odd weeks and still running is no mean feat
and though there are all kind of conspiracy theories being attributed to the perceived ‘funding’ at the sole theatre in Mumbai where the film is being played, one can’t deny the
fact that till the time 3 Idiots arrived and gave some very good competition, DDLJ was the most loved film by crores for the last 17 years.
In the interim there were inconsequential releases like Zamana Deewana (which went completely unnoticed due to minimum publicity), Shah Rukh Khan ensured that he
was sitting pretty much on the top with a mega blockbuster in the form of Karan Arjun which didn’t just break the two year record of Khalnayak (that boasted of
the biggest opening ever till then) but also held this record for an entire year before his own Trimurti enjoyed similar feat for a good one year.
Shah Rukh Khan was on a major high within four years of his arrival and was looking at crossing bigger frontiers in years to come.
Watch this space for Part 2