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THE REIGN OF RAHUL

By Sanjay Jha

( As Chennai Express becomes the biggest blockbuster in the history of Indian cinema by crossing 3 Idiots , I remember my piece written in 2009 .  Shah Rukh Khan’s success and endurance has a lot to do with his own unshakeable inner faith in a world of cynics, critics and competition. He is not called King Khan for nothing).

I met Aamir Khan in the halcyon Internet days of Y 2000 , when the word dot com on the visiting card represented a new zeal, the symbol of risk-taking , of creating a dream global company. With Shah Rukh Khan already the reigning badshah of the web world with SRKWorld.com, Aamir became for us fledgling entrepreneurs the next best alternative. Astutely suave and certainly discerning, and with a more cerebral outlook than his other contemporaries, we met Aamir to proposition a brand ambassador role with an equity stake attached in our proposed entertainment portal.

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Aamir was remarkably modest, possessing down-to-earth humility, an attentive listener, and having a sharp instinct for worldly affairs. While there have been several sardonic digs at the ” madness in his method acting” , Aamir came across as a successful actor with a open, flexible mind-set, ready for novel experimentation. Lagaan was yet to be released, as he escorted us to the production studio in his back-yard where Ashutosh Gowariker was circumspectly editing the film’s rain-song sequence . We were amongst the few to get a sneak preview of what soon to be Bollywood’s landmark cinema.

Eight years later I write this piece , provoked by a stray comment made by an office colleague last Friday afternoon, when the corporate world usually gets into unwind zone, gradually dissipating the hectic pace into lower gear as the week-end beckons.

” Shah Rukh Khan seems to have been suddenly targeted by the entire film industry; everyone from the Bachchans, Salman Khan, Akshay Kumar , Aamir; you name it. Odd bedfellows , but they are all ganged up in this anti-SRK campaign”, said the anxious fan. Normally, I would have thought nothing of the post-lunch observation uttered by a devout follower about the celebrity crowd we know nothing of other than what we read in Page 3 gossip columns.But I admit this one got me thinking.

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I remember discussing Asoka , SRKs home-production( which was just about a financial break-even) with Aamir in a CII get-together . Asoka was by no standards a war epic or a cinematic master-piece. You could make out it was made on a limited budget and with modest ambitions, attempting to take a personal slice of the former emperor’s life, and weave it into a commercial format. While it may have failed the critics-test or the box-office window, it was certainly not a tacky ham-handed effort. I told Aamir just that , adding that I loved the emotional last few moments. Aamir’s sharp, cold response somewhat stunned me. He was bitterly caustic, rubbishing the film’s whole premise, and almost ridiculing SRKs misadventure. The seething competitive rage within was palpable. A fleeting thought passed me by; if I were to re-make the classic Amadeus, I know who would play Mozart , and who the conniving arch-adversary.

Therefore, recently when there was the expected brouhaha about Aamir’s ” my dog is called SRK ” comment, it hardly surprised me. As have the unpredictable Salman Khan’s bitter tirade against SRK , Akshay Kumar’s rather pathetic attempt to live under delusions of grandeur that he is supposedly the new King, and even the great Amitabh Bachchan’s rather unwarranted sarcastic digs at SRK’s quiz show. Even Manoj Kumar , resurrected by a calculated frown on his forehead joined the anti-SRK bandwagon. Bollywood is a dirty rat-house despite the steaming coffee with Karan, and synthetic smiles. It’s an insecure world out there, living a paranoid existence.

They may anoint him as King Khan but strangely enough SRK may be a victim of the fact that he will be perpetually perceived as ” an outsider” by the grand old family-networks that still strangulate free enterprise in Bollywood. For many, the short-sized slender cigarette smoking middle-class Delhi-wallah was an alien intrusion . The fact that he usurped the coveted throne, and has steadfastly refused to give an inch for over a decade, has clearly rattled Bollywood rivals. I think no one anticipated such impregnable , enduring dominance from brand SRK. Like Sachin Tendulkar in cricket , the man has been extraordinarily consistent. Box-office success and acting awards , hosting quiz shows and award functions, a slew of commercial ads, jet-setting with corporate honchos, Madame Tussauds , Temptations road show, book -releases, the IPL franchise-ownership , a self-owned production company and an animation studio. Lunch with the Gandhis. He has even made doing his Dard-e-disco at private weddings a revenue stream. Other fellow actors, have quietly followed. With increased corporatisation and free capital inflows, the financial stakes in Bollywood have become astronomically high. SRK has single-handedly created the entertainment industry’s financial capital warehouse; both working funds and huge profits. Now everyone seeks a lion’s share. It’s pure financial arithmetic.

But I think what has unnerved most about SRK is the fact that behind that ” I am the best” macho line, he is remained the simple old Delhi wallah. He has not beaten up his sultry wife Gauri, and his sister is not filing a criminal suit against him. He is a protective, indulgent father, and a trustworthy friend. These are all rare commodity traits in our glittery stardust world. Underneath the six-abs pack he remains a small-town boy in a world he knows only essentially worships the last man standing on a Friday opening.

I thin SRKs hidden biggest strength comes from his own internal pain. The fact that his parents died when he was still young. That his mind-numbing success will be forever elusive to them. I think only those who have no parents will understand his emotional-mental construct.. I think he lets his passions overflow , his energies double-up, his character assume new dimensions whenever he gets in front of those whirring cameras. It’s a cathartic moment. He lets it go.

So Rahul becomes the new name of several new born children in India. SRK may pretend otherwise, but Bollywood  is not his real home. It will never be. It is only his corporate office and a place where he has a job to do, expectations to meet and moments to memorize and mesmerize the world. . A scene to act. A product to endorse. A super- hit to deliver. Again and again.

Because his biggest family is now widespread across the desert plains of Rajasthan, his home-town of Delhi,  across the seas in Dubai,. the congested by-lanes of Hyderabad , the maddening multitude of Kolkota, the home-sick in New Jersey , the fan clubs in Jhumritalaiya, the upscale gentry of Mayfair in London, and the many, innumerable unknown cities, towns and villages that make India. And the world.

That’s where Rahul rules. That is his home.

46 Comments on THE REIGN OF RAHUL

  1. Harry Patel // August 23, 2013 at 9:44 am // Reply

    While i don’t usually agree with Sanjay Jha as i am Anti-Congress (that doesn’t mean i am Pro-Bjp) but this is the 1st article that i 100% agree with Sanjay Jha.

    Kudos to Sanjay for revealing the inner thoughts of Aamir Khan and disclosing the unsecure world of Bollywood. I am sure Aamir Khan would be hoping in his mind that Dhoom 3 crosses 225 Cr (which is expected lifetime earning of Chennai Express in India).

    Interesting fact is that 3 idiots was offered to Shahrukh Khan first but he was not able to do the film due to dates issues. He had already committed his dates for his best friend Karan Johar’s Film : My Name Is Khan.

    I think SRK may have thought that 3 idiots film may be both critically and money wise more successful than MNIK but still he kept his promise to his best friend and did MNIK. If this is true, you may very well know the nature of Shahrukh Khan and his Friendship. You just revealed Aamir’s nature as a person who bashes his competitor’s film openly.

  2. Awesome and inspirational…

  3. One of the best article written on SRK. We all love him because He is best . we fans always stand by him at every moment of his life at success & at that moment when he will find himself alone. Congrats SRK for chennai express which became the highest earning bollywood movie beating each & every record

  4. it is totally true All rivals, contempories, senior and new comers were are & will be jealous of srk. he is the only one who surprised most..

  5. rohit mishra // August 23, 2013 at 11:44 am // Reply

    brilliantly penned. SRK is a thorough gentleman and a superstar in real sense.

  6. thanks for revealing the true colours of Aamir Khan.

  7. I am glad that you wrote this post. I still remember reading at smashhits how some people from Bollywood were on a mission to destroy Srk. In that article, I also read that certain channels and newspapers received money to make it possible. That was like 7 years ago. Its now full blown fire. So obvious. Even when Srk sneezes the media people turn it into a controversy. There are critics who intentionally give low ratings to his movies. Certain channels just speak negative about him and keep taking votes on wherther another khan or Srk is the real king.

  8. Mohammed Haseeb Ahmed // August 23, 2013 at 12:29 pm // Reply

    M a big fan of urs…i really like ur debates on newshour with Arnab Goswami…but this article just blown me away,with the in-depth and underlining emotions of the Brand SRK…kudos and wish u Best of luck for the elections

  9. it is the best article about srk in these days………….we fans are always with him…

  10. So while SRK is an outsider in Family controlled Bollywood, I wonder what made Amitabh or Akshay or to a lesser extent Aamir Khan not the first timers breaking into Bollywood. And did Mr. Jha get the work he bidded for with Amir? Possibly not i would assume.

  11. No doubt the best article not alone for words but for it provides insights of a superstar considered perfectionist by glam-world.

    SRK is superstar that he is today not just for blockbusters that he delivers but also for sheer humility with which he delivers them and acts in there’s company.
    Someone has rightly said – For decades only two people have kept India entertained, moved by their work: SACHIN TENDULKAR & SHAH RUKH KHAN.

    -@meetdheeraj

  12. Superb article ..Thanks Sanjay sir for telling the bitter truth of Bollywood. SRK is made by his fans no matter what plastic people of Bollywood behave with the living Legend. He is the best and will continue to inspire all the generation.

  13. Molly Pollak // August 23, 2013 at 1:33 pm // Reply

    I am an American with no Indian ties except as a fan of Indian cinema and a rabid fan of Shah Rukh Khan. New to Indian media, I have been baffled by the source of the vitriol against SRK. Your article goes very far in explaining both his success and the reactions to it. Beyond the dimples, I think part of the source of the screaming crowds is his middle class-ness. You would never see Brad Pitt or Amir tweeting about the thrill of a private plane. He is both a construct and real at the same time.

  14. prashant k jha // August 23, 2013 at 1:45 pm // Reply

    it must be writen by heart nd true about d good and d bad it really touches my emotion i didn’t think aamir is so bad at heart and so jealous. 4m 2day onwards just after readin dis story i start hating aamir khan…u juat go to hell u jealous man..

  15. akahayAkshay // August 23, 2013 at 2:01 pm // Reply

    Hats off to you man!! Thanks for revealing Amirs true colour which no one was ready to talk bout.!! We are with SRK all our life! He s the true actor and a true human being!

  16. Excellent post. This puts into perspective some of the negative feedback I see, and try to avoid, as I continue falling in love with Bollywood.

  17. Great piece on srk…and we know that aamir khan is the most jealous person..thanx for revealing the true character of aamir…srk is a one man army who always believed in honesty and respect

  18. this is Gold ! the whole wide world is SRK’s home ..he lives in our hearts .. we will protect him will fight for him will stand by him no matter what .. i promise no one regret loving him .. once you loved the more you do .. he is just amazing man with the best heart .. Allah bless him .
    Love from K.S.A

  19. The BEST Article on l SRK I ever Read. Kudos to you for this Masterpiece.

  20. Mis respetos Sr. Sanjay Jha , la vida del cine tiene estas cosas pero los hechos hablan por si solos y los logros se ven y se aplauden, reciba un cordial saludo mio desde Perú donde también Chennai Express se estrenó y esperemos que SRK se de una vueltita por aqui y nos visite.

  21. Thank you so much sir. We dont know some people personally but we emotionally connect with them. Sometimes i use to think that ki srk has lots of money nd has happy family, so i wish he went far from this hectic and dirty bollywood and live so much private life. sometimes i use to cry by seeing some people continously critisizing him, his family his values his work with certain set of mind. The world’s Best person doesnt deserve this much hatred, i use to watch hindi movie if it is only srk’s. we can live without watching any film, but cant c our beloved Shahrukh being victim of some animals in the world of bollywood.

  22. SRK is overconfident, you can tell from his speeches at different awards. not sure how hes down to earth.

  23. Ritesh Sharma // August 23, 2013 at 4:13 pm // Reply

    Sir
    U touched and pinned my heart till the end of it..I will never forget this till end of my life and may be in heaven or hell too”actually I don’t know”. I never knew u but today u made yr one lifetime fan with these lovely words..Great work Sir..Simply better than 300 page novel..

  24. I m happy to know that someone is still standing behind other’s silence, other’s innocence, other’s honesty. it makes me so emothional sir. Apart from some few people like Yash chopra, Sanjay leela bhansali (Even karan johar is selfish lately) Bollywood is full of donkies and monkies, they tred very hard to down srk’s fame,who achieve that himseft other than from their father’s brother name, instead of imroving themselves. It would be mistake for us (SRK’s fan) to take other star’s name in the same sentence. he is perfect father perfect brother perfect businessman perfect actor and on a whole he is the perfect example of the human being that everyone should be

  25. and we will never leave him alone. we shout loud for him in his happiness as well as hard and toughest time. thank you once again

  26. Nice to know that. Great site.

    • This is by far the most engaging article ever. I got all emotional. Recently, a friend who’s not familiar with hindi films saw SRK’s pics on my phone and asked who he was. I told him SRK is my dearest uncle who didnt know I exist but I love him all the same because if he knew me personally, he’d be the best uncle ever. Such is the love I (a Nigerian) have for this global icon. Such is the power of the man who acts and smiles his way into our hearts and family. You were right when you said bollywood is not his home. His home is in all of our cities, our villages, our homes,our hearts. Well done Sir. Thanks for this great piece

  27. Sayad Hussain // August 23, 2013 at 5:03 pm // Reply

    Thanks Mr. Jaa to write this column. We love you Shahrukh Khan from bottom of our heart. Congrats for Chennai Express success.

  28. Such a wonderful article indeed! recently i have seen an old srk segment of Jeena isi ka naam hai! he was so different back then, his humility sparkled from every bits of him! Now over the years things have changed, he became a lot more confident but the real person Srk is the bigeest reason why ppl love him so much. he is still very humble and down to the Earth and certainly gives all for public entertainment! Some people dont understand his sense of humour and assume him arrogant!

  29. Sir hats off..n I want to tell u sir many celebs such as aamir,salman,akshay have spoken ill about him in the public bt still he remained calmed n never responded to such nuisance…he has respct 4 every kind of people..n is the true gentlemen I am proud to be srk’s fan.. 🙂

  30. nice article.do you think that srk-priyanka affair story was to tarnish his image as a family man?

  31. jilani shaikh // August 23, 2013 at 5:55 pm // Reply

    great article, one of the best and true article ever written on movie star, love u srk

  32. One of the best post read on Shahrukh. He is surely called the “King of Bollywood” for some reason. The fact that he can take up any role is what makes him special. Be it romance, action, comedy..anything to everything. In reel life or real life, he is similar and does his job right. Yes, I agree he is one Delhi wala boy who smokes cigarettes but noone is perfect right? Shah Rukh might not be perfect but he does everything as a “perfectionist.” That is again what makes him special. Got no ego problems and does what he likes. Afterall, we must not underestimate the power of a common man.

  33. rajauddinshah // August 23, 2013 at 6:09 pm // Reply

    aamir khan is the most cunning fox of bollywood…he is very much jealous of SRK.He indirectly encouraged foolish salman khan n others to take on mighty king called SRK in vain…aamir is not a superstar bcos his film release once in 3 years in average wise.He is a secret destructive planner against SRK…srk popularity will destroy pretentious aamir khan very soon….aamir dont think public common people r as foolish as u ok…dont underestimate d power of common man u fool….dear jha ji ur views r share by crores of common people around d world,thank u for this wonderful n precise articles…keep on exposing more….u r one of the greatest orator n intellectual man of india.

  34. what an article sirr…simply awesome..he says quality people asked records..he says acting people asked records…now he says records…i think all shut up..grow up haters..he is proud of india..greatest star on earth..:)

  35. Sanjay Jha conveniently forgot that there is a place for everyone in Bollywood. And depsite all the jet setting that SRK must have done, he has an important place in Bollywood and no one can deny that. People are the best judge as they spend their money to watch a movie/ movies. Just like they spend their vote for a party they think would do good for them and for society at large.

    To debase someone (Amir Khan) to propel another one (SRK) is very mischivevous. SRK has always done movies (with few exceptions like Swades~although not a success at box-office) in his comfort zone, with his selected chosen directors. He does not have any appetite for risk-taking. Try and match that with Salman or Amir. Salman with new directors, although with usual naach gana, lack of creative script, still gets box-office ringing and breaking 100 crores mark. Amir on the other hand has challenged and taken the bollywood creativity and thinking to an entirely different heights. And you clearly don’t see SRK standing next to Amir when it comes to taking risks with new directors, mindful scripts and 100+ crores all in the same sentence.

    SRK meanwhile can bask in his late 1990’s & early 2000’s success. The fact remains that his movies are as garbage as Salman’s or Akshay movies and yet Salman’s and Akshay’s movies have done much better in last 5 years than 2-3 movies of SRK (with established production houses and greats like Yash Chopra). Treading in a safety zone, while being an actor is no big deal.

    P.S. Let’s not talk about Amitabh Bachchan. He is an industry in himself. SRK is a baby! let SRK have fun being a RAHUL. Or Mr. Jha can do his failed comparison between Amitabh & SRK just the way he did for RAHUL ‘Failed’ Gandhi and Namo

  36. Your article is the best analysis of SRK I have come across. Most see the other side and come to a conclusion, since others hate SRK, he must be bad.

    The last few months I have been reading so many obituaries on SRK’s career by arm chair intellectuals, who I bet wouldn’t have worked half as hard as SRK. All because SRK had not been delivering the biggest hit every year since 2008. His films have been superhit/hit in India and Blockbuster/ATBB outside India. So these guys saw a downfall and started relishing it, because he is so Arrogant.

    Most often people only see arrogant face. Beneath it is a 15 year old boy who lost his father to cancer after a prolonged fight, whose sister stared at the wall for 2 years after the death. Later at 25, he lost his mother after months of coma. He rarely talks about these. Like a self sculpted sculptor, he has chiseled himself to shape. I think SRK has an indestructible spirit. I may not like his every film, but I am fan a because of it.

    About Aamir Khan, there are many incidents that shout about his insecurity over SRK alone. Even the recent stupid smile he gave when asked about SRK’s performance in JTHJ. The same guy loves Salman’s stiff as a cardboard act in various films.

    Aamir fans normally respond by SRK’s is no saint, his award show performances mock other actors. Actually no. The award show would have had same jokes even if Ritesh Deskhmukh had presented it. SRK is only the host.

    SRK had never crossed a line and made a nasty comment on anyone, or tried to belittle anyone’s achievements. But then, SRK has also consistently made his competition suffer from low self esteem. As how Akshay must be feeling when his film got squashed out, or his presence in a certain stadium got wiped out.

    These guys would have liked it had SRK acknowledged them with the usual wish-washy humility, indebted in Indian moral construct, however fake it may be. Perhaps, why they rejoice when SRK’s films are no longer biggest hit of the year.

  37. accountkillerme // August 23, 2013 at 7:15 pm // Reply

    Your article is the best analysis of SRK I have come across. Most see the other side and come to a conclusion, since others hate SRK, he must be bad.

    The last few months I have been reading so many obituaries on SRK’s career by arm chair intellectuals, who I bet wouldn’t have worked half as hard as SRK. All because SRK had not been delivering the biggest hit every year since 2008. His films have been superhit/hit in India and Blockbuster/ATBB outside India. So these guys saw a downfall and started relishing it, because he is so Arrogant.

    Most often people only see arrogant face. Beneath it is a 15 year old boy who lost his father to cancer after a prolonged fight, whose sister stared at the wall for 2 years after the death. Later at 25, he lost his mother after months of coma. He rarely talks about these. Like a self sculpted sculptor, he has chiseled himself to shape. I think SRK has an indestructible spirit. I may not like his every film, but I am fan a because of it.

    About Aamir Khan, there are many incidents that shout about his insecurity over SRK alone. Even the recent stupid smile he gave when asked about SRK’s performance in JTHJ. The same guy loves Salman’s stiff as a cardboard act in various films.

    Aamir fans normally respond by SRK’s is no saint, his award show performances mock other actors. Actually no. The award show would have had same jokes even if Ritesh Deskhmukh had presented it. SRK is only the host.

    SRK had never crossed a line and made a nasty comment on anyone, or tried to belittle anyone’s achievements. But then, SRK has also consistently made his competition suffer from low self esteem. As how Akshay must be feeling when his film got squashed out, or his presence in a certain stadium got wiped out.

    These guys would have liked it had SRK acknowledged them with the usual wish-washy humility, indebted in Indian moral construct, however fake it may be. Perhaps, why they rejoice when SRK’s films are no longer biggest hit of the year.

  38. that’s so true ….. let me comment on that as a fan how been introduced to india by srk ,, i really dont know why actor do that to srk some time they say very mean things why they cant understand that srk is more than an actor to us we life with him every moment well for me srk is my life i lost my dad at a very young age and i felt lost my life has no meaning any more till i saw srk film and since that day i felt a life again because of him i got me smile … u know i neve meet him and i dont thing am that lucky but hope to see him one day just to say how much he mean to me …. happiness is srk he live in our hearts and for that no one can take him so let them say what they want to say nothing can change how we love him just let me end with saying one one and i mean it if salman aamir akshay or even big b can be like him
    a very proud to be srk fan
    love him jab tak hai jaan 🙂

  39. some people and actors was so happy when #ra.one didn’t do well they just came with the idea of disliking the film well at least have the courage to do some thing different i really dont understand them they hate every thing he do and then they do the same what is this …. well some time i think they are jealous that they cant do what he do as u know HR did remake of agneepath and its big b film why no one say anything but when srk did don every body say that he was wrong and all sort of rubbish why and also KBC well i thing and simply the just afraid of him because every thing he do is better

  40. THIS ARTICLE PENS BEAUTIFULLY WHY WE LOVE AND RESPECT THE MAN. and i think “my name is khan” was a great film. more power to the man who can stay real while all else are becoming plastic!!

  41. SHAHRUKH THE GREAT……….

  42. A Master piece by Sanjay Jha really. I admire both Rahul Gandhi and SRK. I relate with the article completely. Rahul Gandhi does live in the hearts of people across India and needs no endorsement. A fine gentleman, a caring politician and I believe the future of Indian politics will rest safe with Rahul and his brand of politicians. As regards SRK, the animosity, jibes and diatribes from his adversaries shall make him stronger and that is true for Rahul Gandhi as well.

  43. Abhimanyu Srivastava // August 27, 2013 at 11:21 am // Reply

    This one indeed is as honest and apt an article on the great SRk as one can be. Best put, SRK surely rules and has home in our hearts. We indeed salute n are inspired by his great energy and never to give up attitude..
    Only thing i didnt agree was, that i dont think the bachhans consider him an outsider and keeps no place for him in their hearts.
    Every one in bachhans simply loves him and has great regards for him , simply loves him……
    but still, as a whole what Mr. Jha is trying to say is correct……AAmir , Akshay, etc etc may try to bring him down…. they know themselves they are wasting their own time…..Good Work Mr. Sanjay Jha.

  44. Awsome article…
    Very inspiring and of course true…
    May Allah keep SRK Happy and gesorgt so He can give the rest of
    Bollywood more sleepless nights…

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