Shahrukh! OMG! You can not contain him in words. Those eyes of love, solitude, longing, want, fear, hatred, and jealousy; that face of thousand honest expressions, as if possessed, conveys what exactly he wants to; that intensity of moves, which would make any tune sound good; that baritone of his voice, which would fumble, pause, and rise in exact sync with his majestic face; the fluffy mane of his past, which you would otherwise mock, but as noble, pure, and honest as his smile. You cannot describe the Colosseum to someone who is blind, you cannot describe an orgasm to someone who is a virgin, and you cannot describe Shahrukh to someone who does not belong to Shahrukhism. Shahrukh is not just a cinema; it is much more than that. Like Sachin is not just a cricketer and Beatles is not just a band. There come may better actors, but no one will ever replicate Shahrukh. Like no one will ever replicate Sachin and Beatles. He can die with his legs up in the air and it will look good. He can romance a cow on screen and it will look good. He can be beaten down to ground and it will look good. He can wear most atrocious clothes, and do most atrocious acts, but with his touch of an alchemist, everything which is him will be gold. He can be a loser and a failure, and you’ll love him.
You don’t need to write good roles for him, you don’t need to write good dialogues for him, you don’t need to design good clothes for him, you don’t need to create good songs for him; at the end of the day, it will be Shahrukh who’ll be enacting them, it will be Shahrukh who’ll be speaking those lines, it will be Shahrukh who’ll be wearing those clothes, and it will be Shahrukh who’ll be dancing to them. He’ll be the cynosure of everything, in perfect control of anything around him. It is easy to be a good actor. It really is. But it is impossible to be a Shahrukh. Try replacing anyone in any single shot of Shahrukh and you’ll know what I am talking about (Heck! You cannot chase the baddies on a rickshaw or haggle to buy a watermelon for the lead-lady and still manage to look that cool!). Shahrukh can pull off anything and make it real; make it believable. Sharukh always strikes the right chords. When you see him, you own him; you think he’s all yours; he’s someone you would want your father to be like, he’s someone you would want your brother to be like and he’s someone you would want your son to be like. Shahrukh is believable. Shahrukh is cool. Portraying the fallacies and weakness of a common man can only be Shahrukh’s forte. And he’s magical in that.
Shahrukh off screen is an equal delight. While the rest from his fraternity can carry off nothing more than a chuckle or giggle while looking dumb and annoying, Shahrukh knows, each and every time, what he’s talking about. Super-intelligent will be an understatement. He has wits which are genuine, and he has words which make others look illiterate. His brain and reactions work at the speed of light, and still all he’ll say will be meaningful and will have a right combination of philosophy, humor and sarcasm. He has what all his peers lack: a presence of mind. He’s the true off-screen show-man. You may hate his performances, but you’ll be overdoing if you hate him as a person.
Shahrukh is not perfect, and I would have not liked him had he been one. His imperfections are his charm, like the vulnerability of Sachin in his nineties. It adds to his awe. It’s like wondering for an instance how beautiful Michelangelo’s Pieta would’ve been without those broken pieces, and then thinking that the broken pieces actually add to the beauty of the sculpture. Shahrukh never gave his best; he always gasps you in want of more. I doubt he would be excited to give his all even in his swansong performance. Shahrukh is not about details, you’ve to appreciate the whole panorama. He’s a painting which you cannot absorb in a single view. You want to see it again and again.
An actor should be judged solely on the basic of his silver-screen performances. Not on the basis of awards, recognitions, fan-followings, and box office. His personal life and his background should be nobody’s business. But if you still want to use such parameters for Shahrukh, do your own mathematics.
Shahrukh’s success is a success of a common man. And it is the only reason you may hate him. It is a success which all of us dreamt of, but hardly achieved. Yes, people wonder how a mediocre looking guy coming from nowhere can storm the whole world. WHOLE WORLD! This observation fuels jealousy and hatred. You wonder what he has in him that took him that high. It makes you feel restless. Shahrukh is a winner any day. He’s not an underdog. People love when underdogs perform. And unfortunately, all his underdog companions have been surprisingly incompetent and that again is Shahrukh’s fault. When his peers succeed ephemerally, they are hailed and no one remembers their bulk serial failures of the past. Shahrukh’s success is taken for granted, but his failures are archived and more intensely mocked. Even in his success, dots of failures will be searched. When his peers promote their projects by giving haircuts to public and traveling in rickshaws across the nation dressed as jokers, they are lauded and termed innovative; when Shahrukh outscore them, it is just shameless marketing. When movies with no story succeed and shirts tear off by it selves, they’re cult-classics; but each of Shahrukh’s movies is sharply analyzed on the balance of logic. A sixty-year bald actor with his clownish acts is a demi-god on screen, but they never fail to count the forehead creases of Shahrukh who unlike his peers, thanks to his injuries, cannot take help of Botox to look young.
They have tried everything possible to match his success. Some have tried to pretend ‘different’ and act as the ‘art-house’ of Hindi-Cinema (it no doubt works, for people too need to fake their elitism by pretending to like such ‘art’). Others are desperately finding solace in remaking southern hits shot-to-shot. May they all succeed. They need all such tactics for they all are mechanical and expressionless. They all are insecure and it is perceivable how difficult it must be for them to hold their ground. But it was Shahrukh who first changed the laws of cinema well back when he started. He made the audience believe that heroes can be bad, heroes can cry, and heroes need not flex their muscles all the time. No matter what others say, Shahrukh changed all the conventions, truly as the first iconoclast of Hindi cinema. Shahrukh is the benchmark of everything. All accomplishments in Hindi-cinema are and will always be compared to that of Shahrukh! Does one need to say anything more?
Shahrukh is termed shallow because he wants to have all the money in this world. He unfortunately does not accept the morals we impose on him. But thank god he’s not pretentious. Thank god he does not sit for Medha Patkar’s causes without actually understanding what they are about (only to run away later when they vandalize and halt your movie screenings). Thank god he does not second Anna’s campaign just for the heck of him. We did not see him when the Olympic torch arrived in the country. He does not belong to there. But he’s always at places where he belongs to, and he challenged the so called tiger in his “own den” while reiterating his statement backing Paki cricketers. Shahrukh is shallow because he does not care what people think of him. He works day and night so that he can have enough money when he’s old and feeble. He’s an artist who now seeks commerce over estheticism, who now prefers glamour and indulgence over abstinence. He’s the Indian god for hedonism. We all the hedonists but hate him for the very same reason. Because he’s excelling at it.
Millions of people across the globe cannot go wrong. Respect their judgments. And no one can argue that his name has transcended the barriers of nations, languages, and religion like no one else. It is, it is difficult and beyond the imagination of most of us, the fan-following he enjoys overseas. He’s unarguably, the most recognized Indian man alive in the world. The world knows just his face. But even if he hadn’t achieved all of this, he would have been this charismatic.
To me, cinema is nothing but Shahrukh. I’ve cried and laughed with him every time. I wanted to scream my lungs out when I was next to Mannat. I, unfortunately, don’t understand any other actors. I’ve tried, really, again and again but failed. But I am sure they all are good. But I just don’t get them. And it’s okay if you don’t get Shahrukh. Yes, each of you has your own taste of cinema. You may hate him to your core. You may make fun of everything which is him. You may think he’s ugly and not a hero in Hindi-cinema sense. I would understand all of that, but still pity that you would never experience the array of emotions we, the followers of Shahrukhism, experience every time we see him. Shahrukhism is not an elite cult, but still pity that you don’t belong to it. And more pity that you cannot convert to Shahrukhism for if you are not into it, you cannot be into it. And those who belong to it will know what I am talking about. For the rest, this post will mean no more than, a maudlin paean, a drama, a joke? To rest, all in the name of Shahrukh Khan, he has promised to entertain us as long as he lives. The milestone may say forty-six, but picture abhi baki hai mere dost… (The show is yet to finish…)