‘Ordinary’ Shah Rukh Khan Is ‘Just One Of Us’. Or Is He Really?
Shah Rukh Khan on David Letterman’s show was old wine in a new bottle. Yet, we lapped it up. Why?
I tuned into the Late Show with David Letterman on Netflix with as many questions as freshly-minted independent MLAs eager to encash some mint. Why is he David ‘Letterman’ and not David ‘Postman’? Was it because he wrote letters that he never posted?
Why is Shah Rukh Khan the most popular movie star in the world even though no one watches his movies anymore?
Why, despite being the most populous country in the world, did Indians have to google ‘procreate’ when they heard it on the show’s trailer? Do we all believe that we were born through cross-pollination and are products of botany and not biology?
SRK is Like a ‘Made in China’ Memento
And the most important question that has been troubling me as long as my ulcers: despite being a multimillionaire superstar and businessman, the heartthrob of millions of middle-aged women, with dimples deeper than the Grand Canyon, why the heck do we all feel Shah Rukh Khan is one of us!
This man is as famous as the Taj Mahal, if not more. David Letterman will agree. The reaction ‘this guest who needs no introduction’ got prompted him to say — ‘this is beyond anything we imagined’.
Letterman has obviously not come to Delhi enveloped in a shroud of thick smog during Diwali and bumped into Delhiites with pollution masks, bursting crackers with glee.
SRK is like a ‘Made in China’ memento. You can go to any part of the world and there he is. Not in person, but as this demi-God everyone happens to adore irrespective of their skin color and toilet habits. All you have to do is walk aimlessly into one of the busy streets in Brussels, trying your best not to look like a wide-eyed tourist, and some bloke will interrupt your reverie with, ‘Oye, Shah Rukh!’
Shah Rukh’s ‘Extraordinariness’ Lies in his ‘Ordinariness’
Yet Shah Rukh’s most endearing quality is his relatability. During the course of the show you find out that all through his growing years he had no idea what he wanted, and ended up majoring in subjects that he had no use for in the future — and experience déjà vu. He loves giving advice and follows none of it. Hey, me too! And that he dotes on his kids like any Indian parent, is annoyingly possessive about his daughter (made me cry tears of relief)!
SRK’s extraordinariness lies in his ordinariness which he never fails to mention in every interview of his, and the ‘Letterman Show’ was no different.
Yet, unlike a certain gent who prompts us to roll our eyes like windshield wipers every time he mentions his gareeb days that involved chai, Shah Rukh makes us sigh. Even louder when he tells Mr Letterman he learnt to cook so that he could fix midnight snacks for his kids and seal his fate as the World's Best Dad. Why, he even helps Suhana choose presents for her boyfriend when he’s actually dying to punch the guy in the face!
3.5 Million Indians Love SRK For Who He is as a Person
Mr Khan is so ordinary that he lives in a sea-facing mansion. Only ordinary men like him wake up to a sea of fans as big as the Arabian, waiting for a glimpse of their beloved mega star with no filmy lineage and money to back his ascent to stardom. We readily believe he’s ‘one of us’ when he tells David Letterman, “halfway through my career I realised I’m not half as talented as I thought I was. So I decided I should work towards making them fall in love with me.” He succeeded spectacularly.
3.5 million Indians love SRK, the actor, more for who he is as a person.
Witty, disarmingly honest, heartbreakingly charming, and someone who never shies from acknowledging the influence his mom, sister, Gauri and now Suhana have had on his life.
The ‘Myth’ of SRK
Can you imagine Akshay Kumar conceding that his ‘facial expressions can give any piece of furniture a complex’? How many actors can get away with saying almost the same things in every interview that they have given over a span of nearly three decades of their career, and yet have their fans lapping it up?
Such is Shah Rukh Khan’s charisma.
Mumbai got none of it. In fact it was shown through the same old jaded Westerner’s lenses. Slummy, exotic, chaotic. Yawn. The city looked least impressed with Letterman roaming around like an untethered cow and greeted him with a dead fish look. Including the flower lady who got a rose from the man himself.
The SRK show was the same old wine in a new bottle. Does David Letterman, the legendary talk show host, know that?
I don’t know. But we knew. Yet we sat through the entire show and fell in love with the myth of SRK, as SRK himself said, the star who makes us believe he’s just like one of us, all over again. Much needed relief from all the chest-thumping on prime time TV, where every politician claims they have ‘won’ the people’s verdict. They have won. But have the people?
(A teacher not so long ago, Purba Ray took to writing on a whim after leaving her job. Has an opinion on nearly everything, fact or fiction, beginnings or ends, light or heavy, long or short. She tweets at @Purba_Ray. This is an opinion piece and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)
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