Friday Classics: Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, the Deconstruction of Shahrukh Khan

Get ready for me to be lazy!  I just dug up a paper I wrote for grad school on this film/Shahrukh’s star persona and wildly slashed out bits and rearranged and then threw it up.  But whatever, I haven’t done a Rab Ne post yet really, and it was time.  The post I really wanted to write was on Lucky: No Time for Love, but I’m not going to let myself, because that should wait for Salman’s Birthday Celebration time.

In 1994, 23 year old Aditya Chopra narrated the plot of a film he had written, the film he wanted to direct, to his best friend, the rising star Shahrukh Khan.  Shahrukh turned it down at first; he wanted to be a different kind of actor, not the usual romantic lead.  Then Adi told him that, if he did this film, Adi could make Shahrukh a superstar, “every woman’s dream man and every mother’s dream son”.  Shahrukh agreed and, within a year, DDLJ was released and Adi’s prophecy came true.  Fourteen years later, Adi sent Shahrukh another script.  This time, Shahrukh cleared his schedule and told Adi he was ready without even reading it.  Perhaps if he had, he would have had more qualms.  If DDLJ was aimed at making SRK into a star, Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi was aimed at tearing his star down.  Or perhaps Shahrukh would have agreed even faster; at age 44 he had begun to show signs through his script choices that he was tired of being the dream man and ready to be something different again.

(Something different!)

At the time of Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, Shahrukh was at a turning point in his stardom.  This persona began to develop in the years before DDLJ, it came of age with that movie, the next few years saw slight additions to this existing persona, but in the years after 2000, Shahrukh’s film choices have shown a calculated destruction of his sophisticated on screen personality which culminated with Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi.

Whether the story of Adi prophesying Shahrukh’s success is true or not, it is an integral part of Shahrukh Khan’s star narrative.  SRK’s narrative is a combination of “boy next door makes good” and “inevitable journey of a God.”  At the same time, Shahrukh is also positioned as the perfect boy next door, someone within reach of the average movie goer.  In stories of Shahrukh’s life, he is not only “just like the audience,” he is just like his own characters, who in turn were a new style of hero, one more like the audience than the perfect heroes of the seventies and eighties. Next to the stories of Shahrukh as a God, are other stories of him as a regular boy.

Since Shahrukh is a romantic hero, it is the romance of his wife Gauri that is the main focus of most stories of his life.  This romance, as told in fan magazines and television interviews, culminated in a moment straight out of one of his films.  After dating for years, secretly as her Hindu family would not have approved of her dating a Muslim boy, Gauri announced she needed a break from the relationship and stopped returning his calls.  Shahrukh managed to trick one of her cousins into telling him she was visiting friends in Bombay.  With only that information to go on, and a suspicion that a girl who loved swimming might go to the beach, he borrowed money from his mother, took his two best friends for moral support, and left his hometown of Delhi for Bombay.  They quickly ran out of money, got kicked out of the house where they were staying, and finally ended up sleeping on the streets.  Their last day there, Shahrukh convinced his by now very hungry friends to try one last beach.  Of course, they magically found the girl as the sun was setting.

Image result for shahrukh gauri

(Doesn’t hurt that they also looked like movie stars)

While that moment was from a classic Indian romance of the seventies or sixties, what followed, according to Shahrukh’s star biography, is more in tune with the changes that arrived in the nineties.  The nineties saw the arrival of a new kind of hero and a new kind of romance.  He was the perfect Indian boy, who is also able to move easily through the west, is unabashed in his pursuit of wealth and love, but still respects the power of the patriarchy.  He was a new hero for a new time.  This new hero would not run off with the girl after he found her, he would find a way to bring a balance between societal and familial obligations and the heart’s desire.

The change was not so difficult for the audience to grasp as part of Shahrukh’s star narrative reflected the story of DDLJ.  After Raj and Simran fall in love, Simran suggests they elope, but Raj refuses.  Instead he insists on winning over Simran’s family until they approve of the match.  In the same way, Shahrukh and his girlfriend Gauri wanted to be married, but knew her family would object.  Shahrukh was Muslim, had no money or prospects, and aspired to be a film star.  Rather than break up or sneak off together, they decided to mount a campaign to win over her family one by one.  In life, as in film, true love won the day.  Considering the fact that Aditya Chopra wrote the story after having become close friends with Khan, it is entirely possible that the star’s own history influenced the path of the characters in the story.  On the other hand, it is possible that this story became an integral part of Khan’s star narrative in response to his most famous role.

Mohabbatein was Shahrukh’s second film with Aditya Chopra and his first with mega-star Amitabh Bachchan.  Amitji had retired right before Shahrukh started acting in films.  He had been plagued by personal problems, ranging from rumors of infidelity against his beloved wife, to scandals from his brief time in politics, to the simple fact that he was getting too old for the kind of roles that had made him famous.  In Mohabbatein, Adi  brilliantly repositioned Amitabh as an “angry old man” rather than the “angry young men” he had played previously.  While the young Amitabh had railed against the establishment, the old Amitabh desperately tried to protect the establishment.  In contrast, Shahrukh presented the youthful present.  Not anger, but love.  The dialogue itself drives home this contrast, with the two of them constantly throwing around the question of which will win; love or fear.  The point of the film is that love eventually wins out, in other words the softer sweeter hero of the nineties defeats the angry violent hero of the previous era.  With this triumphant victory, “Raj” and Shahrukh reached the heights of fame.

(Here, the trailer lays the whole thing out for you)

Now that the character had been in existence for five years, and been crowned the new king, I think Shahrukh’s film choices began to slowly destroy it, allowing him to flourish as an actor.  He spoke to this problem in my favorite documentary Inner/Outer, saying:

I’m not comparing, but…I don’t want to see Clint Eastwood not on a horse.  On the other hand, you come down a snow clad mountain in a nice sweater and you sing to a girl and tell her you love her and it works wonders and I’m nearly forty and it still works wonders.  But as an actor, yes, it gets a little disturbing…And now I’m afraid I don’t even know how to be in a movie if there’s no horse in it…It’s a little worrisome some times as an actor.  As a star, it’s fantastic.

In 2004 in Swades, Shahrukh attacked an integral part of his “Raj” hero, the NRI lifestyle.  Not so happy after all!  While Swades killed the NRI hero, Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna (2006) killed the vision of a happy marriage.  Shahrukh the light-hearted lover, plays a bitter angry man who hates his wife.  Moreover, instead of being the young athletic type, he now moves with a pronounced limp.

(He’s no longer happily dancing with the women, he’s bitterly watching someone else dance)

All of these films dealt with the outer fringes of the “Raj” character and thus Shahrukh’s star persona.  They stripped away the connection to the West, the ideal of easy success, the happy marriage, but Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, stripped away the essence of the “Raj” character: the fantasy of true love.  In Rab Ne, for the first time, his character has an arranged marriage.

Stemming from this change came others.  For the character to be one who would need to have a woman forced to marry him, he had to be awkward, shy, old-fashioned, and unattractive.  As Shahrukh said in interviews, “This time I think Adi and I decided that we are going to bare the engine and put it in front of the people and say if it doesn’t look very attractive, it doesn’t have fluid lines, it’s not a convertible, but this is what runs the car”.    In a way, this was a return to the origins of the character.  When making DDLJ, Adi urged Khan to “take off his mask.” He believed that “Raj” was the true Shahrukh, “an inherently nice man,” not a showy dangerous lover.  It is this idea of him to which Adi returned in Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi.  Shahrukh describes the character as “the soul of a lot of characters that Adi has written for me”. And by playing this character, he reminded people of the other parts of his life story, the ones that are not usually highlighted.

Shahrukh may have fallen in love at first sight with a beautiful girl, but it was not as a charming and confident young man.  When he and Gauri met, they were extremely young, she was the first girl he ever spoke with, the only girl he ever dated, and she wanted to break up with him because he got too serious too fast.  This is far from the westernized lothario convinced into marriage after meeting the old-fashioned Indian girl that wins his heart which Shahrukh usually played onscreen.  When they did marry, while there were dramatic elements to it (Gauri’s brother threatening to shoot him, sneaking into the house in the middle of a party, etc.), there were also boringly practical considerations, her father was more concerned about Shahrukh’s earning potential and career choice than any personal animosity.  After all, Gauri’s own parents had had a love marriage.  In addition, the first few years of their marriage were not all entirely happy.  Gauri had never been away from home before and knew practically no one in Bombay.  And yet, it is a marriage that has lasted for years, and given two children, and continues to show signs of faithfulness.  Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi shows this practical side to the romance.  And to get into that, SPOILERS

Related image

(this is a young “Suri” not a young “Raj”)






The first shot of the hero and heroine is the reverse of the last shot from DDLJ.  In the original movie, Shahrukh and Kajol jump on a moving train in order to leave her family behind, Kajol in her full bridal regalia.  They are laughing and holding each other close standing on the steps as the train speeds up.  In the first shot of Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, the train is stopped in a station and Shahrukh steps out and offers his hand to help down Anushka, dressed in full bridal wear.  She ignores his outstretched hand.  These two scenes show the mastery of Aditya Chopra as a filmmaker, each of them contains the entire relationship in a few seconds of screen time.  While in both the bridal clothes signify a new couple, they are very different couples.  In DDLJ, Shahrukh and Kajol are running from propriety, trying to move away from the old standards and traditions.  They are laughing and happy, they are physically connected, their relationship is one of freedom and comfort.  In contrast, the opening of Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi shows that the relationship is part of Indian society, they train is arriving at a small Indian station, not leaving. Further, there is no laughter or happiness on the characters’ faces, they do not even speak to each other.  And Anushka would rather step down from the train alone despite her enveloping clothes than risk even a touch of the hand with her new husband.  Clearly, this is a relationship that is constrained and uncomfortable.

As a flashback establishes, their marriage was more arranged than is common today.  There was no meeting followed by months of phone calls and letters, instead there was a hasty marriage after one meeting at her dying father’s bedside.  Anushka’s romance was supposed to be the more common “love-cum-marriage.”  She had picked out her own groom and was happily looking forward to marrying him.  On the eve of the wedding, the groom and his family are killed in a tragic accident, the shock causing Anushka’s father to have a heart attack.  With no future prospects, her father dying and her groom dead, Anushka was convinced to marry the boring safe option her father proposed.  In fact, in this case, Shahrukh is playing the role of the evil father approved fiancé from DDLJ, while his character in that film, the romantic true love, dies before the audience even sees him.

Only, as the film goes on, it becomes clear that far from the evil fiancé, Shahrukh is the perfect husband.  He makes no demands on his wife, is happy when she merely packs him a lunch, takes her out to movies every night, gives her the best room in the house while he moves to the attic storage area, and gives her money for anything she desires.  Eventually, Anushka asks for money to take dance classes.  Shahrukh joins her there after a radical make over but, when she does not recognize him, takes on the persona of “Raj” instead.  He introduces himself using the “Raj, naam to suno hoga?” line from Dil To Pagal Hai.  This character is a joke, his clothes are too tight (Shahrukh complains about the tight pants and aggressively tugs on them as soon as he is out of eyesight), his hair sticks straight up, and his dialogue is a series of film lines.  This is how Adi and Shahrukh now see Shahrukh’s most famous star avatar.

Eventually, Anushka falls in love with “Raj.”  Shahrukh’s best friend points out that of course she is in love with him, Raj is romantic and passionate, he tells her how he feels, while Surinder is silent.  Shahrukh’s response is that he cannot be something he is not.  Later, again, Shahrukh’s friend pushes him, to which Shahrukh responds that he cannot be Raj, Raj is not real, Surinder is real.  This is a strong statement considering it is said by the actor who is strongly connected with “Raj” and written by the filmmaker who created him.  Ultimately, of course, Anushka chooses Surinder over Raj.

This dual identity, Raj versus Surinder, is present in Shahrukh’s own life.  As Shahrukh says about his wife “She doesn’t know (superstar Shahrukh Khan).  I don’t think she even likes him too much.  I don’t bring him home and she is very clear that she doesn’t want to know him either.  But her relationship with her husband Shah Rukh is fantastic.”  The idea of Shahrukh as being separate from “Raj” brings in the idea that the conscious destruction of this identity was an effort to make way for a Shahrukh Khan to come forward as himself, not his persona.

Unfortunately, this is something that has still not been achieved in the years since this film.  His recent films have all been criticized for being either too much “Shahrukh” (Happy New Year, Dilwale) or not “Shahrukh” enough (Fan, Raees).  Or somehow both not enough and too much at the same time (Jab Harry Met Sejal).  I don’t really know what he can do at this point to pull the audience out of this funk.  Maybe dramatically remove his fake hair and clothes to show the “Surinder” underneath?

Actually, that’s not a bad idea!  I would love for him to go grey, to dress conservatively, to change his appearance so drastically that we can see again the boring reliable older man underneath, instead of the sexy “Raj” on top.



(yes yes, this sounds very different from my usual writing style.  This is “grad school Margaret” and also “spent 10 weeks writing and refining this one thing” Margaret. I could write this well for every post, but then there would be only one post a month.  I think, putting up 3 almost-as-good-as-this posts a day is better)


29 thoughts on “Friday Classics: Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, the Deconstruction of Shahrukh Khan

  1. Clearly written before AbRam was born, with your reference to two children. But really, I love this almost as much as I love RNBDJ, which is my favorite SRK movie 5 days out of 7. There is an entire book to be written about “killing Raj”, once the story is over. And since the current ending isn’t happy, I assume the story isn’t over, yet, my friend!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Shoot! I cleared up so much, how did I miss the two children thing?

      Yes, I think the story isn’t over yet either. The murder is still slooooooooooooooowly happening, film by film.

      Liked by 2 people

        • Have you seen Anand yet? Similar effect with the Rajesh Khanna character. Although there’s a combination I think in both films. Kind of like RNBDJ, it shows how all that happiness and charm is an act, no one is really like that, they are just hiding their sorrow under the surface.


  2. Maybe the title of the book could be: The long way of killing Raj 🙂
    You made me curious, Margaret…how long was your original paper?
    And…I feel…it’s just an appatizer to a ‘really’ RabNeBanaDiJodi post, because…well…Raj is also Suri and Suri is also Raj…and it’s Suri’s longing for getting love that would even make him to choose Raj over Suri…it is his wife that clearly makes the choice to stick to Suri but imagine how amazing it must be for her to know that Raj is a part of him…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Original paper was about 3 times as long. Mostly it was background that you smart readers already know, explaining the growth from Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa to Om Shanti Om, talking about how Amitabh’s career had shifted at a similar point, stuff like that. Plus way more quotes and source citations.

      On Fri, Nov 17, 2017 at 8:04 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:



      • Okay 🙂 Btw, I like that ShahRukh so blatantly admits that Gauri isn’t impressed at all with his star persona. But I have witnessed her and there is an almost motherly pride and understanding when she witnesses him on stage (wether in the audience or backstage). And there is her love for him when she states that he creates an ambiance of love when being with her.
        I have no idea on what kind of ‘erotic level’ their relation is (seeing her always with Kajaal) but I am sure there is a lot of affection between them.

        Liked by 1 person

        • SRK said in at least one early interview that he was ‘addicted to her body’ but in several slightly more recent interviews she said things like he likes to sleep close but she prefers not to be touched. And she prefers to sleep in total darkness while he prefers light so I’m guessing separate bedrooms. And her seemingly preferring KJo’s company to SRKs says a lot, IMO. Interesting dynamic there. I think. I also sense that a lot of barely suppressed resentment beneath the ‘motherly pride’.


          • Well, Erica, I have to say that my personal experience is from some years ago…so no idea about the current stage.
            I would suggest ‘seperate spaces’ (whatever they may contain).
            As for people who love to be with ShahRukh (or simply love him), I got the feeling that she adopted (some of) them so there may be a more close relation to her than to him … I bet that ShahRukh indeed is – apart from working relation – a rather reclusive person.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Even in early interviews, he used to say that he and Gauri are complete opposites in everything and that the only thing in common they have is that they like each other. Even in old interviews he’s mentioned that Gauri doesn’t like to be touched when she’s sleeping but he likes to sleep while holding her. She’s extremely disciplined, wakes up early, is always on time and he’s the total opposite. She’s much quieter and hates the limelight while he loves to talk and is quite the showman. She’s extremely strict with the kids while he’s very lenient. He even has some secret sign he uses so the kids know he’s faking it when he’s yelling at them to please Gauri who wants him to discipline them.
            I think it’s like a running joke that she prefers Karan’s company to SRK’s. I came across a funny clip from somewhere which showed SRK on the phone speaking to Gauri. You can hear his side of the conversation, something like “You’ve known me long enough not to stress about my sleeping schedules. Gauri, I’m 44 years old. I can handle this much. You just relax.” Karan is in the background giving commentary and saying Gauri’s concern is all fake. Just as fake as SRK’s stories about his economic condition to get Gauri to curtail her shopping. SRK laughingly repeats all of Karan’s words to Gauri and then tells her to speak to Karan and gives him the phone.
            Gauri actually banned him from speaking about her at all at one point because he used to say too many personal and embarrassing things. Even reporters had banned the Gauri subject for a few years because he would go crazy and never stop. He used to speak about her obsessively – from being crazy about her body to dragging her into the shower and all sorts of things. She mentioned it in an interview 2-3 years ago that he was speaking so much about her that it was making him look like a crazy person until she had to ask him to cut it out completely. Then she said instead he started obsessively speaking about the kids. She has been trying to curtain that as well. Varun Dhawan mentioned during Dilwale press conferences that Gauri had banned SRK from speaking about AbRam and he too couldn’t speak about him if SRK couldn’t. She had asked him not to post Abram’s pics all the time as well and SRK resorted to putting up pics with his face hidden by masks and hiding in ball pits and stuff like that. Hah.

            Liked by 1 person

  3. Beware: uninformed thoughts and unsupported comparisons about to be dropped!

    SRK’s dilemma reminds me of what happened in Hollywood as it was hit with the sound revolution and the Great Depression at the same time. In the 1920s, the biggest star in Hollywood was Douglas Fairbanks, who I think has some things in common with SRK. He was a handsome swashbuckling movie star with a megawatt smile, charisma for days, very physical performances, sort of this very idealized paragon of American manhood. But then the US was hit by a 25% unemployment rate and the national mood turned very dark. A handsome, smiling
    uncomplicated hero no longer fit the zeitgeist. Plus sound changed how people experienced film stars. They were no long remote and voiceless. Sound brought in an immediacy and familiarity that didn’t exist before.

    The result was a new crop of leading men who were very different from previous generation’s movie stars. Two good examples are Jimmy Cagney and Clark Gable. They weren’t classically handsome and they both started out playing bad guys. They were earthy, streetwise and oozed a dangerous sexuality. They often played antiheroes and morally ambiguous roles. No more clean cut good guys with perfect teeth and a glint in the eye. America wanted heroes they could identify with, not gods to be worshiped from afar.

    SRK is facing similar challenges. You have the rise of disruptive technologies, esp. with cell phones which allow even rural regions to gain access to an entire world’s worth of entertainment options. People don’t have to settle for whatever the main film industry feeds them. And as I don’t have to tell you, there has been huge political upheaval worldwide and reactionary far right movements that have arisen in reaction to cultural changes. There is also the impact of the global recession in 2008 and demonetization in India.

    So where does this leave SRK? His Raj image is a super idealized vision of Hindustani masculinity, a masculinity that endures regardless of where it’s planted (the NRI theme in DDLJ). But that image may no longer be resonant with a public that can summon former film gods on their phones in the palm of their hand.

    SRK, being intelligent and talented, has tried to adjust and adapt. But the public is rigid about their film stars. Once a persona has been cemented the public won’t allow people to break out of it. Douglas Fairbanks didn’t reboot his career in the sound era even though he was probably perfectly capable of taking on darker leading man roles. The public simply didn’t want him to. It was much easier to embrace new actors.

    For the time being, Aamir and Salman have dodged SRK’s dilemma. Aamir has done it by creating a persona of an actor dedicated to craft, which means he can take on a broader variety of roles, and also his embrace of social activism. But Secret Superstar has underperformed so it may be that Aamir is reaching a reckoning as well. Salman so far has managed to stay relevant by tailoring his image to appeal to nationalism, much the way Sylvester Stallone did with Rambo in the 1980s. But Salman is getting older and his shelf life as a hero is coming to an end.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Totally legitimate and fascinating comparisons!!!!

      Shahrukh’s original “Raj” was very much a creation of 90s India, the liberalization economic boom and everything else. And the rise of the 90s romance was partly in response to the 70s-80s action stars who the country had grown tired of, all their anger at social inequalities and so on, it was exhausting.

      You completely make sense to me with your argument, the Indian zeitgeist is very different now, and people are requiring something different in their stars. Shahrukh is carrying that stigma more than the other two, less able to adjust to the new era.

      One other thing which just can’t be ignored is that Shahrukh has become a bit more of a lightening rod for controversy than the other two. While his films may not be making as much money, his name still sells papers and gets clicks like nothing else. Another effect of the new media era, Shahrukh is in your face constantly, on the twitter trends and the facebook links people send you, and the constant inaccurate whatsapp rumors. He can’t just reinvent himself in one movie, he has to somehow break through this stream of content and redirect it. In a way that Salman and Aamir just don’t struggle with.


      • If I were advising SRK I’d tell him to take a break, go do something entirely different, something quietly philanthropic, where he’s not getting his photo snapped constantly. And also get off social media, announce a break and stick to it. So when he comes back it’s both an event and an opportunity to reset his image. But it seems like he feels obligated to be accessible in the same way Amitabh is, but of course Amitabh is coasting on emeritus status so he’s not damaged by being so accessible the way SRK is. The flip side is that SRK’s fanbase might view it as breaking faith with them if he becomes more reclusive, though I think a savvy PR campaign could manage that.


        • The other problem is that he is the face of sooooooooooooooo many brands! We are a little insulated from it in America, but in India you can’t turn around without seeing his face. And he has no control over that, I mean, there are still TV commercials playing he shot and posters he posed for years and years ago. He can stop signing more campaigns, but the old ones will just keep going and going.

          Although, that’s where going grey might be able to help him. So people feel like the “Shahrukh” they are seeing on every billboard and poster and tv commercial is different from the “Shahrukh” who is off twitter and only gives occasional interviews and so on.


          • SRK is in a very unique position in the sense that his films may not be working as intended but he is clearly the biggest celebrity in India, bar none. He has surpassed even Amitabh in that sense. He is an icon in the way none of his contemporaries are. Even in this Padmavati row, journalists and media are clamoring for him to say something. If a terrorist incident happens, SRK is the one that gets brickbats if he doesn’t say something or brickbats even if he does. They run to him to provide comment on everything from GST to notes being recalled. Earlier he used to provide answers but now he has backed away because it always results in controversies. None of the other actors really have to deal with all this.
            Even on the internet, sites like Twitter or instagram, he generates a flood of comments and intense interest in the way others don’t. This is especially interesting because this tends to be the realm of younger people, more fit for the Alia Bhatt types, but SRK even here seems to dominate.
            This lean period isn’t something he hasn’t faced before. It happened when Hrithik debuted as well when suddenly SRK was considered old school and old generation. He will figure out a path. I think the whole point of his last few movies was to break perceptions and not give into what people want. Even his diehard fans were confused by the material he was presenting. Breaking an image is not easy and it takes time for everything to come together properly and for people to get on board. Interest in him is still extremely high to the point that if a film flops, there is actual anger and hatred, not a bored shrug of the shoulders. It’s when people don’t care anymore that an actor should worry which isn’t what SRK is facing.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Shahrukh has always said, since the beginning, that he likes being noticed, he welcomes fame, he is lucky and grateful that people care about him. But I wonder if, these past few years, that has started to change. Maybe now he is finally hoping for a time that people won’t care anymore.


          • I am very new to Bollywood so I can’t speak specifically to SRK’s place in Indian culture. But 2017 seems to be the year when icons topple. We’re seeing it in Hollywood which is seeing its worst year in over a decade. Same thing is happening with pro sports in the US–the NFL has had its lowest ratings in years. And it looks like Bollywood may be experiencing the same wave based on this article:



          • I don’t even have to click the link to know what it is about, Bahubali!!! Someday, when you are ready, you can watch those movies.

            From the blog perspective, I can tell you that about half my views this year/new readers, came from Bahubali. But the other half came from Shahrukh’s last movie.

            The other thing with the Bahubali figures is that, most likely, this is not the first Telugu film to do better business than Hindi. It’s just the first since these numbers were tracked. Telugu was very late to the party with getting it’s figures tracked and published.

            But yes, this has been a record breakingly baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad year for Indian film, of every language. And Bahubali was the one bright spot. For every language, Telugu has had a terrible year as well, as bad as Hindi.

            Part of the record breakingly baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad is that the American box office is just dead this year all around, which goes back to your point about 2017. The effects of the American public changing entertainment patterns are being felt in India in a big way, the box office is literally half what it was last year, for every film that comes out. Salman Khan’s film Tubelight was actually the worst of it, huge expectations and very very low returns. We’ll have to see how his Tiger Zinda Hai does at Christmas.

            Sorry, that is an awful lot of information, but I have been obsessing over the box office drop all year and every week it seems like I have a new theory/new data about it.

            On Sun, Nov 19, 2017 at 4:02 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:



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  6. I re-watched RNBDJ over the weekend, because I was doing a bunch of cooking for a party, and this post put me in mind of it. What a sweet little movie it is. I love how it plays with Shah Rukh’s identity, but also Anushka’s. The distinction she makes between old, happy, in love Taani and new, sad, bitter, wifely Taani turns out to be false, thank goodness. I also love how it plays with the age-old trope of us not being able to see the good things which are right in front of us. Had Suri just started acting like Raj, Taani would have been scared to death. She needed to meet Raj and overcome some of her sadness and loss, and then could accept the Raj-ness within Suri’s Suri-ness.

    I don’t worry about Shah Rukh career-wise. Even if his sufi-esque take on life (neither success nor failure is permanent; if you succeed, work hard, if you fail, work hard; I don’t worry because God and my dead mother are looking out for me, etc) is partially a front to mask his more emotional and insecure side, I think he is smart and philosophical enough to move with the changes. I think he is surrounded by savvy people who know him really well, care about him, and some of those same people also know the film industry really well. He also seems really secure in the love of his kids and the love of his fans. Even when his fans irritate him by giving him advice, lol.

    Having said that, from a purely selfish fan perspective, I’d also love for him to go grey and start making more movies with co-equals–not in terms of stardom but in terms of age and/or talent. RNBDJ and JHMS both worked with Anushka because the storylines called for an older man and a younger woman, and because Anushka, especially in JHMS, has a powerful talent and screen presence herself. Dear Zindagi worked (barely) because he was an advisor and stayed on this line of professional distance from Alia.

    But I love to watch Shah Rukh’s older movies (say 90s-2002) as much as his recent ones because he’s playing against age-mates, and they feel more “one among equals” than “Shah Rukh and everyone else”. I think one reason people like Swades and Chak De so much because these films captured some of that feeling again.


    • Excellent point about Anushka’s change of personality as well! What I love is how clearly she sees her role as “wife”. Like, as a profession. One thing I often need to explain to new viewers before I show them this movie is that we are given clues that Anushka was always planning a career as “wife”. When we first meet her, we learn that she never paid attention in school, wanted to get married young, etc. etc.

      So when she marries Shahrukh, she is happy (ish) in the role of “wife”. She likes cooking and fixing up the house, and all of that. And it’s a pretty great deal for her, huge house all to herself, no complaining in-laws, and so on. I feel like at the start of the film she is trying to fit herself into a small world, to convince herself that is all she wants, that her life isn’t that bad. And what “Raj” has to do is wake up that other part of her, make her realize that she can have love and youth and joy, she doesn’t have to lock herself into the role of “wife” and convince herself that is all she will ever have. But Raj is just the catalyst, Suri is the reward, the one she really loves.

      From the meta side of things, you could argue that the whole “Raj” Shahrukh character was there since DDLJ to introduce Indian womanhood to the idea of falling in love. But they weren’t supposed to actually seek out a “Raj”, they were supposed to just open themselves up to the possibility of love, and then find the person in their life that they can/do love.

      On Mon, Nov 20, 2017 at 3:35 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:


      Liked by 1 person

      • I just re-re-re-watched JHMS this weekend (sixth time) and am also rewatching DDLJ for contrast. For me, they capture the difference between the immature and mature romance. But instead of immature, I think of DDLJ as aspirational, idealized, where JHMS evokes an experience in the past. Again, I am talking about FOR ME, not everyone. If I had seen DDLJ before I met my husband, it would have matched my fantasies of what falling in love would be like. When I watch JHMS (or listen to the music), I am pulled back in time and re-experience my own romance.

        I can appreciate DDLJ as a film, but it will never connect with me the way JHMS has. It isn’t about the age or experience of the central characters; it’s about the experience of the audience or viewer. JHMS is made for people who have more life experience than DDLJ. Again, just my opinion!


        • That matches with my experience of the film. In that it is the opposite of yours. I saw DDLJ at age 19, as I have said many times, when I was essentially the same as Kajol’s character. There was this immediate connection that knocked me off my feet in a way I don’t think anything else ever will. It’s always going to have a direct line to my heart in a certain way, just because of who I was when I saw it. JHMS, I can appreciate in some ways, but I am also aware that that immediate connection is not there for me. Because of who I am watching it now.

          What I would say is true for both movies is that they have a rare ability to evoke a particular emotional journey that connects to the audience. It may hit you more or less on target just right, or it may miss you completely. For me, JHMS was off center but still hit me, I can still feel the power. DDLJ, that was right to the core of me immediately.

          On Mon, Nov 20, 2017 at 4:38 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:


          Liked by 1 person

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  10. I don’t know if you see new replies to old posts but your Adi Discussions sent me back to this. I wonder what your thought are on this now that Zero and pandemic have happened. Where is Indian cinema going and specifically, where is Shah Rukh’s career going. Mpollak711


    • I see every comment always!

      I just put up a post with a discussion of OTT and how I think it will get stronger fast, but there is always a place for theatrical releases if nothing else to promote films later released streaming.

      For Shahrukh, any projects he may have had in place are now indefinitely delayed (just like all filming). But I think ultimately it could be a good thing for his career. The theatrical releases lead to this flurry of attention which has started to turn toxic for him in recent years. But now there is no theatrical release, no awards show, nothing big and buzzy to talk about. Instead people are going to be rewatching old favorites on streaming services and maybe getting to know him again purely through his work, not perception around him.

      Making a total guess, I would put my money on this situation driving Shahrukh more towards theatrical and away from streaming. Just because of a responsibility to the industry as a whole, there has to be theatrical releases to keep it going, so the big names like SRK who can afford to wait and do big releases have a duty to stay in theaters. Maybe his next project was going to be a small film with a Netflix release, but now he will be scrapping that and switching to a big theatrical release film ASAP. But that’s just my guess.


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