Aside from the box office exploits, the accolades, and the whole gamut, Shah Rukh Khan also owns a unique place among Indians and the extended diaspora for his personality. We take a deeper look at it
Shah Rukh Khan turns 58 today and the whole nation's buzzing with joy. It is almost timely, one could say, that his birthday has occurred on the heels of two of his biggest box office successes to date and has offered everyone around to celebrate both him and his legacy. The age, of course, isn't evidently any deterrent to his form and it is likely that he will continue giving a little more than his best until he really chooses to hang his boots (fans might wish that never happens).
But aside from the box office exploits, the accolades, the fame and the whole gamut, Shah Rukh Khan also owns a unique place among Indians and the extended diaspora for his off-screen persona. There's a kind of cheekiness, a kind of affability that his name often evokes and not many actors around the world are capable of that. His fandom is also incredibly proud of the way he presents himself, the way he treats his admirers and also the way he has represented India on the global stage. So, wishing the King Khan an incredible life ahead on his 58th birthday, we have tried to analyze or examine, if you will, his personality and list out five important traits that make him what he is. Here's our take on why and how Shah Rukh Khan can be India's 'global ambassador':
A Classic Indian Success Tale
Shah Rukh Khan, of course, has been the source of inspiration to millions across the country who wish to make something out of themselves with very little means. As much as his growth in life is the paradigmatic underdog story wherein a young man arrives in an overwhelming place but goes on to rise way beyond his confines, the stellar success that he has achieved also stems from a sense of self-pride and conviction. And it isn't that he is faking these qualities just for effect.
In a recent conversation with Cyrus Broacha, Indian theatre legend and actor Lilette Dubey recalled just how earnest and confident Shah Rukh Khan was when he was all of 18, revealing that he knew even at that point that he wouldn't want to be an actor and a star. Some might call it manifesting, others might deem it being assured and confident.
Skip to 13:17 in the video to hear what exactly Lilette Dubey has to say about the man:
Charm, Wit and That Mandatory Hint of Brazenness
A sense of humour might normally refer to a person's ability or tendency to perceive a joke but in Shah Rukh Khan's case, especially, it also envelopes his intelligence, his friendly demeanour and even his strong oratory skills. He is humble, genuine and kind, as already pointed out, but there have been countless occasions over the years when he has dealt with difficult, unsavoury situations with grace, wit and a whole lotta sassiness. There have been a few instances where he may not have been the perfect model citizen but given that the media arclights remain perpetually cast on him, he has conducted and pulled himself out of tricky situations with a lot of finesse.
Also, his ability to switch tones and sensibilities during interviews is something to be marvelled at. You find the guy speaking to irreverent stand-up comics, a regional media channel and a global forum with the same kind of ease and never feeling out of place. And that, again, is a rare trait to find.
A Bona Fide Feminist
Farah Khan broke the mould of commercial, big-league filmmaking in Hindi cinema with Main Hoon Na, a movie that announced her as a 'female' director who was more than capable of delivering mass hits. And quite fascinatingly, it was Shah Rukh Khan, her old pal & collaborator, who stood beside her in bringing that idea to life and very nonchalantly helping her reset the old narrative in Bollywood. Of course, saying that is not to take anything away from Farah Khan because Main Hoon Na and all her other successes are fruits of her own labour by all means, but it wasn't, and still isn't, common in the industry for major superstars to back female talent. And at the time, SRK might have arguably been the biggest actor around.
Shah Rukh Khan has often spoken about the role that women have played in his life - be it his grandmothers, his mother Lateef Fatima, his sister Shahnaz Lalarukh, his wife Gauri Khan, his daughter Suhana Khan or the countless co-stars and collaborators he has worked with - it is apparent that he has drawn a lot of influence from the feminine energy around him. No other actor, arguably, of his generation had the kind of repartees and rapport that he had with their female co-stars on screen - films like Kabhie Haan Kabhie Naa, Dil Toh Pagal Hai, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani, Don, Chak De India! and the very recent Jawan exemplify this.
Humble to the Core
Again, one might find ample instances of the Jawan actor's slightly unruly behaviour but the counter-argument could be that there is no clear context to understand his behaviour. If you could put that aside, there's no doubt that the 58-year-old actor has led a life in the eye of the public with great humility and dignity. Despite being a self-made man, he has never used his own strife as a tool of publicity or to evoke sympathy among his fans. Instead, he has often proven that everything he has encountered thus far, both good and bad, has helped shape his personality which is rich with a wide range of experiences. As someone who began his journey as a bit player on the stage and in independent cinema/TV, it is evident that Shah Rukh Khan is privy to what it takes for anyone to survive let alone succeed and you could say that his humbleness is sourced from there.
Shah Rukh Khan has also confessed plenty of times that he isn't the most good-looking or skilful actor nor does he boast great embellishments like dance moves. Instead, what he says he can do better than most is persevere and work the hardest to not only hone his craft but also make everyone around him believe that they are in the company of a trustworthy, reliable artist. Saif Ali Khan once revealed in an interview that it was Shah Rukh Khan who demonstrated to him on the sets of Kal Ho Naa Ho about the 'responsibilities of a leading man'. The Omkara actor would carry that interesting experience onto the shoot of Hum Tum, which interestingly emerged as his maiden solo hit.
King Khan's hard work is also seen in the fact that he is still in the best physical shape which suggests that he does not take his audience's love for granted. It must also be noted that the discipline he brings to the fore is likely to have taken root at a really young age, when excelled not just in studies but also in sports like football and hockey.