Friday, August 9, 2013

A Train Journey With Shah Rukh Khan

It's the year 1995. A thin, tiny little four year old with a negligible pony tail sits between his parents in a movie theatre. A bucket of pop corn to big for his hands lies on his lap and a glass of pepsi in the glass holder on the reclining chair he's sitting on with the straw about to fall out. He sits waiting in anticipation. The lights go dim, the doors close, the hall fills up and the feature starts. A 30 year old man with scruffy weird hair, piercing eyes, an eagle like nose and an overlarge Adam's apple comes onto screen, looks at a woman and says, "Bade bade desho mein, chotti chotti baatein hoti rehti hain SeƱorita." That is one of the first memories I have of being in a movie theatre. Shah Rukh Khan, with all his wit, all his passion, all his charisma being on screen and doing what he does best appealed to the four year old me. I was entertained.
The next eighteen years of my life have been spent watching every Shah Rukh Khan movie on the day it came out. Then again the day after and then again when the dvd (read illegal torrent download with a decent print) comes out. This was followed by watching him hosting game shows and film awards. Doing a better job than Mr. Amitabh Bachchan at hosting a game show in India is a tall order (in every sense of the word tall) and I think that even though Shah Rukh did a decent job, no one touches Mr. Bachchan. As for the film awards, from 2005-2013, Shah Rukh has been one of the main reasons a major part of the country tunes in year after year. Being a mind reader I know a lot of you shake your head in disgust, but let me explain. I, like all blindfolded fans do love Shah Rukh Khan movies, I absolutely adore his showmanship on stage but if you call that obsession, nothing matches up to my insane amount of admiration for the man's wit, sense of humour, power of communication, command over languages that I've seen in hours and hours of interview footage of the man. Love him or hate him, you can't deny that the man is a national treasure. The last few years of an unhealthy amount of love and respect for the man have been like a train journey. Sometimes fun, sometimes rickety, sometimes annoying but almost always a delight.
Which is why it's ironic that a movie named after a train is the main reason so many fingers are being pointed and voices are being raised against the man which has made it even harder for loyal admirers such as myself to defend him. Let me get it straight, it's the first time in years I'm not going to catch a Shah Rukh movie the weekend it releases. Although that may be because after weeks of trying I haven't been able to convince any of my friends or acquaintances or even family for that matter to be crazy enough to watch the movie with me. But still, my love for him is enough that I'd be willing to be a loner and watch the movie alone. However something holds me back this time. It's probably a review that Taran Adarsh wrote of the movie which uses the words, "Typical Rohit Shetty" 25 times in 500 words. Which actually means, "Yaar samajh lo, bakwaas movie hai, Shah Rukh Khan hai, zaada against nahi bol sakta, industry mein career khattam ho jaega"."
Don't get me wrong, I still respect the man's showmanship, wit and wisdom. I just fail to understand why a man with his sense of humour and intellect would do a Rohit Shetty slapstick non sensical movie or dance to something as wonderfully intellectual as Lungi Dance. I've seen him deliver speeches at the India Today Conclave in 2009 and 2011, and they remain the most artistically deep, beautifully worded speeches I've ever heard any Indian deliver. Why then must he try a South Indian accent in Ra.One, fail miserably at it then be willing to act in a movie with Deepika Padukone doing the accent this time around while he tries to crack pathetic jokes and act in a way which would never ever suit him? Surely making Rohit Shetty's beloved Scorpios topple over can't be more rewarding than hear people applaud to performances like the ones in Baazigar, Darr, Chak De India, Swades and Devdas?
Mr. Khan, I absolutely adore you and if while sitting in your room at the Sheraton with pillows that say, "Shah Rukh", if I ever have the guts, I'd like to show you a video of one of your many beautifully worded speeches or talks then show you the trailer of Chennai Express and do all this without uttering a word and leave your brilliant mind to do the deductions.
Having said all of that, all my heart really hopes is that this indeed is a train journey which eventually ends in a delight because as I've said all the time for Shah Rukh, "Kahin na kahin, laakhon karodo log khush hain, kyu ki tum khush ho."