Home Bollywood Why Shah Rukh Khan is still ‘king of Bollywood’

Why Shah Rukh Khan is still ‘king of Bollywood’


Shahrukh Khan

Last week, Shahrukh Khan completed 30 years in the Hindi film industry

Last month, Indian actor Shahrukh Khan celebrated his 30th anniversary in a Hindi film. Shrayana Bhattacharya, who wrote a book about the Bollywood actor’s enduring popularity, explains why he remains one of the biggest movie icons in the world.

It might be easy to offer sane reasons to explain Khan’s longevity in the film industry. Millions of people love the actor unequivocally, so much so that public praise for him is often dismissed as creepy celebrity cult.

But why is Khan so worshipped and loved?

Like his films, the answer is romantic and sentimental: Khan has always expressed and represented the best that India and the subcontinent can be. He shows us a thriving, diverse and humane region – a place where one can laugh at oneself without the nostrils of piety.

For millions of Indians, he remains the poster child for the country’s economic growth story.

He was on our screens in the 1990s when the Indian economy took to the global stage. His status grew as the economy grew.

As part of a series of market reforms, the country opened up its telecom sector to foreign investment, allowing new media networks to be broadcast in India – channels that ensured Khan’s films, songs and interviews were more accessible than any film celebrity before him more families. As India’s economy further liberalized, new sodas and cars suddenly entered the market, with Khan as their brand ambassador.

In this sense, Khan’s meteoric rise from a humble Delhi family to global celebrity is the fairy tale of India’s penultimate neoliberal success, how without any cinematic pedigree or connections to back it up” An example of getting to the top. Khan’s status grows with the economy.

With the rise of religious rights, Khan has also become shorthand for the progressive plural past that many Indians try to cling to.

Shahrukh Khan signs autographs for fans during the premiere of the 58th Berlin Film Festival in Berlin, Germany, February 8, 2008.

Shahrukh Khan has millions of followers around the world

Critics say intolerance has been rising under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu-nationalist government, which has been widely accused of marginalizing India’s Muslims.

Khan’s son, Aryan Khan, was arrested and eventually exonerated last year in a drug case that many believe was aimed at India’s most successful Muslim icon. He always made thoughtful comments about India’s diversity and played more Muslim roles than his contemporaries.

However, his fans refuse to reduce him to his religious identity – instead, they see him as smart, witty, successful and very sexy.

Speaking of vicious right-wing attacks on Khan and his mixed-race family — his wife is Hindu — one young fan I interviewed declared: “He’s worldly, but he’s also sexy.”

Above all, the actor has been portraying the fragility we all share as human beings.

Khan often portrays vulnerable characters – vulnerable lovers, vulnerable heroes, vulnerable husbands, vulnerable Muslims, even vulnerable villains. The man he plays rarely gets along well with himself and those around him.

The insecurities that plagued his on-screen roles evolved as his career spanned three decades. They are often emotionally poor, unable to feel fully loved, and unwilling to give up the need to find love.

Khan is also South Asia’s romantic superhero – his films are the standard for all desi Romance tries to match.

Statistics show that his character interacts much more with women than other Bollywood male stars. But Khan’s characters seek more than traditional female love, desperately seeking the love and approval of fathers, friends and fellow citizens.

Shahrukh Khan at Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge

Khan is called the king of romance

The man he plays is deeply emotional, always vulnerable to the gaze of others, and sheds many, many (many) tears. Film writers often comment on how Khan cried better than most actors in the world. These tearful displays of humanity only endeared him to countless fans.

In addition to the movies, his humour and humility are amplified by his TV interviews and public speaking.

I know many elite urban moviegoers who are more obsessed with Khan’s interviews than his films. These media conversations mark the actor’s best performance yet: his take on an unapologetic middle-class superstar.

Khan created a public image of arrogance and poise, always seducing us with moments of self-disclosure, self-deprecating wit and bitter irony.

Chain-smoking, cheeky, self-aware and hilarious, Khan is never boring. He goes from giving sound advice on dealing with financial insecurities and troubled friendships to making hilarious jokes about the aging of the film industry and his own sexuality. In all his quotes and jokes about himself and the world, there is always a man who works hard, cares deeply about his craft, and loves hints of self-deprecation.

In a world of uncertainty and harsh reality, Khan’s fantastical image remains a source of awe, escape, and entertainment.

After the hiatus, the actor is set to release three blockbusters in 2023. His fans were giddy with excitement, but they were also wary of right-wing social media campaigns advocating boycotts of Muslim icons and Bollywood films.

As our politics become deeply divided, the strength of the actor lies in how he unites so many of us in smiles and stories. I can’t wait for the next 30 years of this icon – our broken culture desperately needs his sarcastic jokes and open arms.

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