Hindi Film 101: Shahrukh’s Filmography Continues! Where Do You Go When You Reach the Top?

Happy Thursday!  Welcome back to our journey through SRK’s filmography.  Not to see which films are good and which are bad and so on, but as a case study for how a career can grow.  (part 1 here, part 2 here, part 3 here)

 

Non-Usual Disclaimer: This list is from Wikipedia, if something is wrong, blame them, not me!

(If I have written about a film, you can click on the title to link back to the previous post)

 

Billu (2009): When you have become so much a personage, an international icon, the question becomes, how do you make a film showing a world in which you yourself do not exist?  The answer is, you can’t!  And so in this film, just like he had in Om Shanti Om and Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, Shahrukh plays a variation on his own stardom.  And, like Om Shanti Om, he produced it himself.  Showing a certain awareness of his own position, and its powers and flaws and ludicrousness.

Dulha Mil Gaya (2010):  Not a good movie!  Although, as I said in my review, it could have been a good  movie.  Decent script idea, great casting, but no budget and horrible directing.  But Shahrukh is in their pitching!  To some degree playing himself again.  But also playing his director’s vision, and paying back his dues, taking this role (which I am sure he was not paid for) as a favor to a producer who helped him when he was starting out.

My Name is Khan (2010): What can I say?  The riskiest part he ever took.  Could have gotten him killed, almost succeeded in killing his career.  The question all along at this point, post the record breaking Om Shanti Om release and a solid 10 years at the top of the industry, is where do I go next?  What is it all for?  That is the question Billu posted, the emptiness of stardom if there is nothing at the heart of it.  And these two very different films provide answers, Dulha Mil Gaya shows that loyalty and friendship are above all.  And My Name is Khan shows a desire to take that stardom and do something real with it.

Shahrukh Bole “Khoobsurat Hai Tu” (2010): My white whale!  The only Shahrukh film I have not seen.  Because it is impossible to get!  Anyway, from what I have read about it, it is another film that both poses the question of “where do I go from here?” and provides a potential answer.  The question comes when Shahrukh, playing himself, speaks to a flower seller at a traffic light, telling her she is beautiful, and then drives off, having upset the fragile ecosystem of the traffic light economy.  Is this Shahrukh’s role?  To drive by through life?  Or is it to interact?  By, for instance, agreeing to do this small appearance in an off-beat art film?

Always Kabhi Kabhi (2011): I am including this because Shahrukh’s “performance” (an appearance in a song) isn’t very important for itself.  But it is important for what it meant for his career as a whole.  This was the first film Red Chillies produced in which Shahrukh did not star.  It was a flop, and he gave in and did a cameo in a promotional song at the last minute.  It was an early attempt to step out of center stage, to give up the spotlight and move on to a new kind of role in life.  It failed, but it is still interesting that he made the attempt at this point.

Love Breakups Zindagi (2011): this is just a really nice movie.  And it was produced by co-stars and best friends Dia Mirza and Zayed Khan.  And Shahrukh, because he is friends with them both and a nice guy, did a cameo as himself.  But, again, it was an attempt to both pose the question of his stardom, and answer it.  He is himself, a big famous movie star, and he is reminding the main characters to cherish their human connections with each other.

Ra.One (2011):  And then all that introspection and asking what stardom is went out the window in one huge burst.  Or did it?  The idea of Ra.One wasn’t just to make Shahrukh Khan a superhero, it was to launch Red Chillies VFX on the worldstage, and bring in a new kind of film promotion and rights sales.  And it succeeded hugely there.  Maybe “Brand SRK”, Shahrukh’s personal brand, suffered.  But his actual real corporate brand, Red Chillies, did phenomenally.  Toys, comic books, video game, McDonald’s tie in, not to mention massive satellite right sale in advance of release, Red Chillies probably made more money, and more business advances, in this one film than in any of their others.

Don 2 (2011):  Well, this is just self-indulgent!  A fun movie, but it doesn’t do anything new artistically or really challenge Shahrukh’s acting abilities.  It was signed and completed before Ra.One even came out, it could have been just a fun film to make, thinking that his real hit would take the industry forward in ways that wouldn’t be expected and this would be a footnote.  But, no.  Ra.One failed, and this ended up being considered the “hit” of 2011.  Although Ra.One made much more money, but it was the victim of heightened expectations.  Something Shahrukh would have to struggle with from now on.

Jab Tak Hain Jaan (2012): Another victim of heightened expectations.  Yash Chopra’s last film, the return of Shahrukh to Yash Raj, a Diwale release, it was expected to dominate the box office.  And it did, but just not quite as much as it could have.  And it certainly didn’t add much to Shahrukh’s career.  It detracted, really, making him break his rule and kiss onscreen for the first time, a transparent attempt to court controversy and woo back the young audience, instead of playing his own age.

Chennai Express (2013):  Now, this attempt to woo the young audience worked!  Maybe because Shahrukh had a lot more input in it.  With Yash Chopra, he just showed up and did whatever he was asked.  But with Rohit Shetty, it was months of meetings, picking the script together, debating the characters, perfectly tailoring it to what he wanted.  And the end result was a fun action comedy of the kind Shahrukh hadn’t done in years, with some tongue in cheek acknowledgement of the history of his career, and FINALLY an acknowledgement that he was really too old to be playing these roles.  Well, not “finally”, it had been hinted at for a while, in Rab Ne and Chak De, there was an acknowledgement that it was odd to see him with these young girls.  Even in Jab Tak, it was mentioned in the second half.  But Chennai takes it to a second level, and makes it comic.   This is also, by the way, the first film post Ra.One where he really had creative input, possibly showing his acknowledgement of all those “midlife crisis” jokes.

Happy New Year (2014):  And then Happy New Year ruined all that Chennai Express goodwill.  From acknowledging and laughing at his age, he went right back to playing decades younger.  It kept the same happy light tone as Chennai Express, but without the satiric bite.  The same almost surreal comedy of Main Hoon Na, but without the heart at the center of it.  Chennai Express looked like he might have stumbled back on the right path, acknowledging his flaws, working in newer genres and with new directors.  But no, it was just another flailing around, that clarity of vision wasn’t there.  At least, not in his script choices.  Instead, it was all in service of Red Chillies and the corporation as a whole.  Happy New Year had a brilliant marketing plan, made enormous profits for the company, and let him expand into owning a theme park, exploding the VFX wing even more, and beginning to co-produce films outside of those he starred in.

Dilwale (2015): And then there’s Dilwale.  Like Happy New Year, a terrible terrible unambitious film.  Rohit Shetty for the second time, without the novelty of that first collaboration.  A great role for Kajol, and a great concept for their romance, enough to drag her out of retirement.  But not nearly enough time to edit it or film it correctly, no real effort put into perfecting the script, everything just sort of thrown together.  No interest, if that makes sense.  You can feel that Shahrukh’s attention is elsewhere.  If the films after Om Shanti Om where about questioning “where do I go next?”, the films after that were about actively trying on different aspects for where to go, and then these two films were about sleepwalking through a performance while your mind was elsewhere, debating what to do.

Fan (2016): And this is what you do!  Age 50, with enough money in the bank for the rest of your life, and a corporation that can keep making profits for you without your daily attention, you start taking the biggest creative risks you have taken in years.  Start making movies for your artistic satisfaction, no other considerations.  Fan was a terrible commercial decision.  It ended up being an even bigger failure than expected (although still did not lose money, a Shahrukh film hasn’t actually lost money since Asoka, it’s all about pre-selling the rights and doing a big push for the opening day box office).  But it is so ambitious!  The concept, the effects, the central performance!  Just unbelievable.

Ae Dil Hai Mushkil (2016): Not much of a part here, just one scene.  But I want to highlight it because, again, it is an acting challenge.  It’s not like Dulha Mil Gaye, where he just showed up and mugged some faces, there was complicated dialogue, and really really complicated history that all had to be conveyed in just a few minutes.

Dear Zindagi (2016): Almost to the end!  There are two interesting things about this film.  First, he is playing a supporting character, not the lead, for the first time in ages.  And second, Red Chillies is producing and Dharma is co-producing.  Way back when Kaal came out, Dharma was the main producer, and Red Chillies was invited in as a courtesy because Shahrukh was Karan’s friend, and he did that opening credits song.  Now it is the reverse.  Red Chillies is so well-established, that Dharma becomes the second producer on this film.

Raees (2017): Now, this is an odd combination of brave and cowardly.  The content of the film is unbelievably brave, a violent low class Muslim character, played by the most famous Muslim in India, with a Pakistani actress.  It’s a miracle this thing got made!  And that’s not even talking about the Yatra scene.  But, on the other hand, it’s also cowardly.  A love story was kind of roughly inserted, the demonization of the police was a bit punches-pulled, and in the end, as always, crime couldn’t pay.  But, to me, this doesn’t feel cowardly because he is worried about the box office, I don’t think Shahrukh will ever really worry about the box office in the same way again.  Sure, something like Fan will be a disappointment, and he will want to make sure there is a profit and not a loss on his films.  But that kind of devastating heartbreak, or the cold calculation with the goal of breaking another record, I don’t think he is there any more.  Now it is about making sure there is enough of a profit to make sure he can make his next film and his partners come out ahead.  No, I think the bigger concern is making sure the viewers see and appreciate the art.  That was the heartbreak of Fan, that it was this amazing brilliant film, and no one saw it.  I think if/when it turns into a cult hit, even if it is only through free pirated versions that never make a profit for Red Chillies, that will satisfy Shahrukh.  That’s where he is now.

And, by extension, I think that’s where all the Khans are.  They just want to do work that matters.  Because when you are over 50, and have conquered the world, you realize what is really important.

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19 thoughts on “Hindi Film 101: Shahrukh’s Filmography Continues! Where Do You Go When You Reach the Top?

  1. I watched Chennai Expresss and I hated this movie. There were like only 2 scenes that I liked :the one with SRK bringing Deepika on his arms to the temple, and Kashmir Main Tu Kanyakumari song (I liked especially Hulivesha – man pinted like tigers).
    I was very disappointed with the script and just can’t believe that they dedicated months to find and perfectioning it. I could never say that! Now I’m even more determined to never watch Dilwale. I wish I could take Rohit Shetty and abandon him in the jungle, so he would never find the way back to Mumbai and make more movies (maybe I would tahe Farah Khan with him too)

    I realy hope Shah Rukh will do only good movies now. We need this.

    Like

    • You might want to try Chennai Express again. I’m not saying you have too, there is a good chance you will still hate it. But there were a lot of in jokes and stuff, it’s possible if you watched it earlier on in your fandom, you might enjoy it more now.

      Like

      • I understood many of jokes and references, but still this didn’t make me change my mind about the movie. For me it’s one enormous , expensive blown egg, without nothing inside, without heart. I think that now every screenwriter who don’t have good idea for a script thinks: let’s add some DDLJ quotes, and other stuff people know, and we will make money. (how many movies have used this strategy already?)
        Overall Chennai Express is not the worst movie I have seen, but it’s one of the most hated by me, because it could be great but wasn’t. Having said that I think I would like it some more after re-watching, because it do have some funny scenes.
        Thinking now about plot of the movie one doubt came to my mind: Doesn’t Deepika’s father resemble Kattappa? And yes – it’s Sathyaraj! I know everybody here knew it, but I’m happy I discovered it on my own 🙂

        Like

        • I didn’t recognize him at all! I saw Chennai Express in theaters 4 times, I saw Bahubali 7 times, and I still didn’t know it was the same actor until it was mentioned in some article.

          On Fri, Jun 9, 2017 at 11:02 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  2. I really wish that they had worked Dilwale’s script a lot more like they worked on Chennai Express. This was one of those movies where I was really excited about since they announced the film. I loved Chennai Express plus the return of Shahrukh-Kajol, and Varun in one movie. Though I feel disappointed that a movie like Dilwale is in Varun’s filmography, I feel bad for Shahrukh because I think Dilwale really ruined his reputation among the general audience. Varun at least gained more exposure, especially overseas, from being Shahrukh Khan’s little brother and I think it helped movies like Dishoom and Badrinath.

    Like

    • It did sooooooooooooooooooooooooo badly. Opening day was 19 crore, which was exactly as predicted, and then the next two days it dropped off dramatically, and was down to like 5 crore by the next Friday. It still broke even, because they had pre-sold the satellite rights and other rights for just enough to cover the budget, minus 40 crore. Opening day closed half that gap, and then by the end of the second week they had scraped their way to another 20 crore and were even.

      when I say “no one saw it”, obviously millions of people watched it, but compared to the usual Shahrukh film release, it was nothing.

      On Thu, Jun 8, 2017 at 11:59 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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    • Neat! this is what I get for not checking twitter obsessively, I have to count on other people to tell me these things.

      Also, yay!!!! a week earlier release! A week less to wait!

      On Fri, Jun 9, 2017 at 1:12 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  3. What are ur policies on trolls?
    Do I troll u? Do u not want me to comment on this site? are u biased against South Indians?
    There is this guy who is unneccsarily insulting me, sunny deol and Punjabi movies. I never insulted anyone or anything. I dont like being insulted like this. That guy makes me angry.

    Like

    • I have no official policy, since I run this site myself, it is just what I feel is wrong or right. The big thing to remember is to respect the opinion of others and use the same language you would use in real life in your comments. No insults, no anger, no telling someone they are wrong or stupid.

      I’ve looked at the comment you are referring too, and it does not cross the line for me. I will give you a language lesson: the commentator used the phrase “I sometimes feel”. He is clearly speaking only for himself, wanting you to understand this is just his opinion, not the official opinion of the site, and that he understands he could be wrong. He goes on to say a statement of fact, “not everyone” is interested in the same things you are. Which is correct. This is in contrast to some of your comments, where you have not used the “I think” or “I feel” construction. And where you have made sweeping statements without carefully considering your words.

      Something that I have reminded you of before is that not everyone will agree with you, and that is okay. That is not insulting, it just means they have different tastes and different opinions. What is insulting is when you say that our tastes are garbage, when you make an objective statement that says you are right and everyone else here, is wrong. No one has said that to you here, ever. We have respected your opinions, but said that we disagree with them. You have not always done the same, but I have let it go, assuming it was because of language difficulties, that you did not realize you had crossed a line of what is acceptable in polite conversation.

      If you want to have better internet manners, in general, it is helpful to remember to start every statement with “I”. “I think”, “I feel”, “I like”. You are only representing yourself, on equal level with everyone else here.

      You may have noticed that fewer and fewer of your comments are being responded to. I don’t feel the need to ban you, but myself, and apparently other of my readers, have run out of things to say to you, until there is a new topic to your conversation. Since this is not a place to discuss Hollywood films, or even really Punjabi films. This blog started to discuss Hindi films (my speciality), and then slowly expanded to the southern industries because I had many readers, not just one, who asked me to start covering those films. That’s just what it is, I cover Hindi and Tamil and Telugu and Malayalam. Not Punjabi or Hollywood.

      You are welcome to post as much as you want (so long as it isn’t purposefully blatantly insulting), but you may not always get a response to your comments if no one has anything to say on the topic. And you may not get a response you like.

      On Fri, Jun 9, 2017 at 3:05 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      Liked by 1 person

      • Did u read this comment too?
        https://dontcallitbollywood.com/2017/06/07/wednesday-watching-post-raabta-week-what-have-you-been-reading-and-thinking-and-watching-this-week/comment-page-1/#comment-18061

        Looks like I am not welcome here. May be u r ryt. I lack internet manners. I thought I was being quite respectable. I never said ur taste was garbage. I only said that I dont like them. I am not good with words. I never intended to insult anyone. I just asked questions out of curosity. I dont find anything offensive in suggesting Wonder Woman. It is a feminist movie that men will also like. Since, u like strong independent women, u shuld like this movie. It was supposed to be honest recommendation. I have felt that my childhood nostalgia is offended over here but I just ignored those posts.
        I thought this blog was to discuss Indian cinema but only Hindi and South Indian cinema.
        On Monday, i will be writing my final questions and post. If possible, reply on them as it will be my final outing here
        Lets hope,Punjabi cinema becomes big enough so that there are other sites where I will discuss the movies
        Regarding Hollywood, my liking for Hollywood action movies haven’t diminished anytime in last 12 years. I watch them with my friends. I discuss them everywhere. Even on you tube, I fight/discuss over them.
        Will u be replying on Monday for last time? If not, I will just write my good bye speech.

        Like

  4. Pingback: Wednesday Watching Post, You Get to Pick My Next Posts! | dontcallitbollywood

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