Shah Rukh Khan: Why the actor’s charm has endured the test of time

Shah Rukh Khan: Why the actor's charm has endured the test of time
Shah Rukh Khan Getty Images

Last month, Indian actor Shah Rukh Khan celebrated 30 years in Hindi cinema. Shrayana Bhattacharya, who has written a book on the Bollywood actor’s enduring popularity, clarifies why he is still among the world’s biggest film icons.

It is most likely facile to offer intellectual reasons to explain Khan’s longevity in the movie industry. Millions of people unambiguously love the actor to the stage that public adulation for him is often dismissed as cringeworthy celebrity worship.

But why is Khan worshipped and adored so much?

Much like their films, the answer is romantic and expressive: Khan has at all times expressed and displayed the best that Indian and the South Asian subcontinent can be. He or she shows us the glimpse of a prosperous, plural and gentle region – one that can laugh from itself without the swollen nostrils of pious outrage.

Just for millions of Indians, he or she also remains the particular posterchild of the country’s story of economic growth.

Within the 1990s, Khan debuted on our screens at the same time as India appeared on the global economy scene. And his stature grew with a developing economy.

Included in a series of market reconstructs, the country opened the telecoms sector in order to foreign investment which allowed new press networks to transmit in India – these channels guaranteed Khan’s films, tracks and interviews arrived at more homes compared to any film superstar before him. As India liberalised its economy further, new sodas and cars suddenly entered the marketplace, and partnered along with Khan as their brand name ambassador.

In that sense, Khan’s meteoric rise from a simple Delhi family in order to global celebrity will be the penultimate neo-liberal mythic of success in India, an example of the right way to “make it” to the top without any film lineage or cable connections to prop him up. Khan’s stature grew with an increasing economy.

With the rise of the religious correct, Khan has also turn into a shorthand for an intensifying plural past that lots of Indians are trying to keep.

Shah Rukh Khan signs autographs for fans as he attends the 'Om Shanti Om' premiere as part of the 58th Berlinale Film Festival at the Berlinale Palast on February 8, 2008 in Berlin, Germany.

Getty Images

Critics say intolerance continues to be on the rise under Excellent Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist govt, which is widely charged of marginalising India’s Muslims.

Khan’s son, Aryan Khan, has been arrested last year in a drugs case, and finally exonerated , in a case many felt was aimed at concentrating on India’s most successful Muslim icon. He’s always offered innovative comments on Indian native pluralism and played more Muslim character types than his contemporaries.

Yet, his fans refuse to decrease him to his religious identity : instead, they discover him as wise, witty, successful, plus wildly sexy.

Discussing the malicious right-wing attacks against Khan and his mixed-faith family – his wife is a Hindu – a young fan I interviewed announced: “He is luxurious, but he is very sexy. ”

Most importantly, the actor has at all times depicted the frailty we all share because human beings.

Khan usually portrays fragile figures – the fragile lover, the fragile hero, the particular fragile husband, the fragile Muslim, and even the fragile villain. The men he or she plays are rarely at ease with themselves and the ones around them.

The insecurities that trouble his screen characters have evolved with the progress of his career spanning 30 years. They are often emotionally destitute, unable to feel fully loved and not willing to let go of their particular need to find enjoy.

Khan can also be South Asia’s intimate superhero – his films are the regular that all desi romances attempt to match to.

Information shows that his figures engage with women much more than the roles performed by other Bollywood male stars. But the love Khan’s heroes seek is not only the standard love of a girl, they desperately look for the love plus approval of fathers, friends and other countrymen.

Shah Rukh Khan in Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge


The men he plays feel deeply, are constantly susceptible to the gaze of some other, and shed several, many (many) tears. Film writers usually comment on how Khan can cry much better than most actors in the world. These teary-eyed shows of humanity possess only endeared your pet to countless fans.

Beyond the films, his television selection interviews and public classes have amplified their humour and humbleness.

I know numerous elite urban supporters who obsess more than Khan’s interviews over his films. These types of media conversations mark the actor’s greatest performance till time: his version of the unapologetic middle-class celebrity.

Khan offers crafted a heavenly arrogant and poised public persona, permanently seducing us along with moments of self-disclosure followed by self-deprecating intellect and bitter whining.

Chain-smoking, brazen, self-aware and amusing, Khan is never boring. He will go from offering sound advice on dealing with economic insecurities and bothered friendships to cracking hilarious jokes regarding ageing in the movie industry and his very own sexuality. In all his quotes and jokes about himself and the world, there is always the particular hint of a man who works difficult, cares deeply to get his craft and enjoys laughing in himself.

Within a world of unsure and harsh facts, Khan’s fantastical pictures remain a source associated with awe, escape and entertainment.

Following a hiatus, the acting professional has three large releases lined up meant for 2023. His supporters are giddy along with excitement, but they also are wary of right-wing social media campaigns that endorse the boycott of Muslim icons plus Bollywood releases.

As our national politics becomes deeply divisive, the actor’s energy lies in how he is able to unite so many people in smiles and stories. I cannot wait for the next 30 years of this icon – the broken culture desperately needs his wry jokes and wide-open arms.

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