Shahrukh at Davos: Speech and Interview, Focus on Equality and Courage

Davos videos are out!  Have been out for like a day now, but I am a baaaaaaad Shahrukh fan and just got around to watching them now.  Anyway, let’s talk!  Because I am guessing some of you have already seen them, or plan to see them. (for background on what Davos is and what it does, go to this post here)

Starting with the speech!  Which Maryam Khan tweeted at Davos to make sure they streamed, and Davos listened and responded.  Which is cool, because Maryam Khan (I think) has also come here sometimes.  My little brush with greatness!

Anyway, speech!  I skipped the other two speeches from Cate Blanchette and Elton John, so I don’t have context, please provide it if a missed something.

Speech

Introduction

Shahrukh’s introduction is very good, and very interesting.  It starts by referring to him as being raised in Delhi and telling his teacher that he wanted to be a movie star when he grew up, his teacher not believing him, but him going home and his mother telling him that he could make it happen.  And then a brief acknowledgement of the movie star fame he enjoys, followed by detail about his foundation, when it was started and what it does, and also the work he does with children’s hospitals.

What I find interesting is that it is re-framing him as more a humanitarian who also happens to be a movie star than a movie star who happens to be a humanitarian.  The important part was his dedication and belief in himself, and his mother’s belief in himself, when he was a child.  And the way he has used the resources he has acquired, not the method by which he acquired them.  Very different from how his introductions usually go.  Because this is not the introduction he usually accepts, he prefers to downplay his accomplishments as a person in favor of playing the tongue in cheek movie star.

Black on black, no tie

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Very nice outfit choice.  Of course, a perfectly fitting suit and shirt.  Since Karan started shopping for him, he doesn’t own anything else.  But it is “business” wear, not movie star wear.  He is dressed like a serious professional person, not splashy or overdressed, and also not in jeans and a t-shirt.  No tie, that’s what puts it over the top.  In just the past few years, ties have stopped being required as part of a business suit, Shahrukh isn’t trying to impress anyone by following the rules a little extra hard, he is just doing the same as everyone else.

Pulling out paper

Shahrukh pulls out paper for his speech and is clearly reading off the page as he talks.  He looks down at it, and stumbles over the words a bit.  Very very unusual for him.  He’s an actor after all, he is good at memorizing and effortlessly cold-reading.  And besides being an actor, he is very good and witty and effortless in public speaking.  There was a story at the end about AbRam which he didn’t quite deliver right, strange for him.

A couple of explanations occur to me.  He could have just not been taking it seriously, realized he had to write down some notes last minute.  He could have been taking it too seriously, written and re-written his speech until he couldn’t remember what it said.  Or maybe he just didn’t realize the time limit, was expecting more of a 20 minute thing and had to boil his points down suddenly

The end result felt very respectful.  Maybe it was odd to us, who are used to effortless chatty SRK, but in the room, this clearly serious and careful work choice looked like he appreciated the platform he had been given and wanted to say exactly what he wanted to say.  So, what was that?

Content

Shahrukh started perfectly, acknowledging Elton and Cate Blanchett as deserving fellow winners that he admired through little comments that showed he was familiar with their work.  And then making a self-deprecating joke about taking a selfie with them, and that now he has embarrassed his children.  It hit that perfect tone of “I am truly honored and respectful of you” without being overly obsequious, without making it look like he felt less than them.

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(Love that Shahrukh is sneaking a look at the camera in a kind of “hey, you and I are friends, right?” way.  Also love Elton’s glasses, but that goes without saying)

And then the actual content of the speech.  There are 3 ideas he wanted to keep, I think.  The over all points were, first, the women he helps do not “need” his help, they are strong and happy without him, not victims.  Second that everyone is equal and deserves equal access to resources, accident has made him more powerful but these women deserve equal resource.  And third, that those in power are standing in the way of progress, power needs to get out of the way, it is not the solution but the problem.  And underlying all of this (and I think this is what he was struggling to articulate and would have done more gracefully a different time), that gender issues are at the heart of all the other points.  Women are not victims, women deserve as many opportunities and resources as men, and men need to get out of their way.

How he conveyed this points was a little interesting.  He started by acknowledging himself as a movie star only in that he lives a life controlled by beauty.  So it was astounding to see these women who truly did not care that they had lost their beauty.  Then he goes out to talk about how they reject victimhood, they are not weakened but strengthened by what has happened to them.  Within the first few sentences, he has acknowledged his own place in the story, and then stepped aside so the focus is back on them.

(Also tends to step back and let the woman be the focus in his songs)

And then he gets philosophical, declaring that equality is not a concept but a truth.  That everyone is equally entitled to resources but only some have gained more access.  And again, he acknowledges but removes himself from the discussion, saying he has gained resources by accident but others in the room gained them by hard work.  The issue is now between those others in the room who have resources, and the people who are being denied resources. A neat little judo flip of using their own power against them, the more they claim to have/deserve, the more pressure they have to use it well.

And finally, his AbRam story.  Which is just good speechifying, end with a cute anecdote. But it’s not the cutest anecdote, and like I said, I don’t think he tells it right.  The point is, AbRam said “get my eyeball out of my hair” instead of “get the hair out of my eye”.  We need to flip the conversation and say that those in power need to remove themselves, not put themselves forward, for problems to be solved. But it doesn’t somehow come across right, the story isn’t delivered just so.  Maybe he just noticed he was going over time and felt rushed?

But the ending, that is just as he wanted.  He has been dancing around power and privelage and equality and victimhood without directly addressing gender.  But he finally does at the end, acknowledging that he has asked and implored and begged for a “yes” from a woman, but he has never forced it.  That was the hidden message in everything else, which ties it back to the work he is doing.

(And then we get into the whole question of whether a scene like this is “imploring” or “forcing”.  I think I land on “imploring”)

And then “Jai Hind” and “Namaskar” at the end.  Ooo, I do not LIKE that!!!!! “Jai Hind” is okay, although a little aggressive, because this is a world forum and it is appropriate to acknowledge were you came from.  But “Namaskar” feels like sucking up.  I allowed it at the TED Talks because he was clearly representing all of India there.  But he isn’t the only Indian at Davos.  Say “Insh’Allah”! like usual!  Or “Salaam”!  Or anything else.  I don’t watch as many speeches and interviews as others do, has he dropped the “Insh’Allah” in general? Because I would hate that.

 

Okay, blah blah, speech over, interview!

Interview

At the speech he was nervous, or appeared to be nervous, but the interview is home ground!  Down to the crowd being very excited as he walked out, and the interviewer asking for a moment for everyone to take photographs, so they wouldn’t be a distraction while they were talking, and Shahrukh calmly and casually doing his pose for the crowd.

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(This isn’t from the interview, but this is the pose he did, of course)

And then the actual interview!  I did not like the interviewer, by the way.  Not a big dislike, I just felt like her questions were asked a little overly sincere, like she was putting on a bit of an act instead of being natural.  Good questions and all, it just made me zone out a bit while she was talking.

Now, content of the interview!  It sticks with the main points outlined in his speech, but in much more detail.  Maybe this is the longer version of his speech that he had ready and rehearsed?

He starts by making fun of himself, saying he loves awards, but he didn’t expect awards for this work.  This is what we were talking about in the comments a little, if you follow Shahrukh (and all the stars, really) very very closely, you pick up little breadcrumbs that indicate their charity.  But in most cases, it is something you just do not talk about or bring up.  It’s something you do but don’t expect to ever have it recognized.

And then he alludes to that a little when he says he started the foundation a few years back to “regulate” what he was already doing.  He uses the word “regulate” again later when talking about possibly expanding, as something he doesn’t fully understand.  As I see it, it is because this form of generosity, the more public kind, is very foreign to him and, I suspect, most of the film industry.  You don’t have a foundation with paperwork and employees, you have a door to your house and a family who gives things to anyone who comes to the door.  The whole concept of “foundations” and “awards” is alien to this form of charity.

 

He then goes into a the same themes from his speech, that it is strange for him to see people who have lost beauty, and do not care, that they have no value for beauty.  And a little bit of humility, that he is learning so much from others and is here to learn.  Humility, but not obsequiousness.

(I just had a great idea for this week’s fanfic.  In the meantime, enjoy this video about Shahrukh calling a woman beautiful!)

 

Speaking of charity you don’t talk about, he explains how this started by saying that he goes for physical therapy and rehab at the hospital regularly, late at night so as not to disturb anyone, and then he always goes for a round around the hospital to visit anyone who might want to see him while he is there.  The way he says it, that’s just what you do, like I put my dirty dishes in the sink after eating.  And I think that’s how most of the Indian film stars see the things they do like this, it’s not blocked off and labeled as “charity work”, it’s just folded into their every day life.

 

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(Like when Aamir met this sick kid and the world only found out about it because the kid’s family posted it on Facebook, not Aamir)

Anyway, then he explains that he met two severe burn victims, children, who were the same age as his children at the time, and it started him thinking about these issues.  And he explains, again in a sort of sideways way, that you always do stuff like this, there are so many issues, you are always speaking for them or appearing for them, his friends do it too.  I think what they are talking about are the many village adoptions, free concerts, donation checks, etc. etc. that are just part of life for these film stars, all film stars.

But this was different, because he realized that the issue was so small, he could do it all himself.  Only 400 acid victims a year in India, he can handle that individually.  And he can grow his business big enough to employ all of them once they have been rehabilitated.

It’s an interesting way to look at charity.  This is what I was getting from the foundation website as well.  They don’t need or want money, and they don’t need or want publicity.  Shahrukh can handle it himself.  He gives plenty of money and publicity to other groups, but this one issue, that is something he can take care of without asking for help.  The bit about hoping to employ all of them at Red Chillies, I believe that, it is a good place to employ them, especially the VFX wing since it is an easy process to be trained in and requires a large number of worker bees.  But I also wonder if he added it, or at least decided to mention it, because of the Davos audience. Because that’s what they want to hear, corporations solving these problems through employment.

The interview asked him about expanding beyond treatment and so on to legal aspects and he brushed aside the question a bit.  That isn’t what he is interested in, he wants to see and solve this problem for the women who are suffering, not get into the big public fights over the laws.  He also acknowledged that he isn’t an expert on those issues.  Again, it’s a fine line, he isn’t saying those issues are unimportant, just that that is not what he cares about.

 

And then he moves on to general questions of gender equality and violence.  And he expands on that final point from his speech.  Women need to be allowed to make choices.  This is just one of many ways women are brutalized.  Women are oppressed every where in the world, just by different methods.  And that ultimately, it is an issue of categorizing humanity, putting things into boxes.  And that gender and male and female are perhaps the first box.

 

Obviously, I have always thought that Shahrukh was a great feminist, but he then gives some examples of exactly how women are put into boxes which, to me, show how true that is.  For instance, being told “you can’t sit with your legs open”.  Or that the only thing women need is to just “be”, just be themselves and not have anyone else define them.

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(Legs closed like an anti-feminist.  This poor woman, I don’t know why I dislike her so much, but I really really do!  Sorry, interviewer lady!  Don’t feel bad that an anonymous person on the internet dislikes you!)

And then the interviewer, again, tries to steer the talk towards legality and so on, and again Shahrukh pulls back.  As he puts it “this is a fight I don’t think anyone has to fight for. It is so obviously wrong”.  I appreciate that, he doesn’t bother trying to convince us, or acting like he is better for seeing this injustice.  He just says that it is so obviously terrible he will let the legal part of it play out and be sure it will solve itself, while he focuses on the victims.

The interviewer also tries to pull him into discussing the Prime Minister.  And Shahrukh refuses to be drawn into that, merely says that he very much likes the big push towards educating women in the past few years, that is a good idea, and he is glad India is being represented here.

 

And then, again, he pulls it back to women.  What he is here to talk about, on this global stage, even as he acknowledges that it is unfair he (a man) is the one here talking about it.  He explains that he was raised by women, his father died and he only had a sister, and now he has a wife and a daughter.  That he doesn’t spend time in the company of men.  Which I (guardedly) agree with.  My father was the same, as he used to point out when we were growing up “Even the DOG is a girl!”  And he had two sisters and no brothers (a cousin-brother, but that’s a different story).  It’s not like he never spoke with men or didn’t have a father or anything, but there is an extra level of comfort and understanding that men, some men, can gain through just being surrounded by women all the time.

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(Going out to dinner with your teenage daughter, and listening to her, can teach you more than a whole semester of a gender and women studies class)

This explanation also lets him flip the conversation to be about the women around him, not himself.  His sister, his wife, his daughter. And then his co-stars.  This I found fascinating, the acknowledgement that working as a romantic hero has let him work closely with many many women.  And that he sees and appreciates that they do all the work, and he gets all the credit.  It’s a unique sort of work environment, where the gender gap is obvious to him who is benefiting from it but no one else.  I can’t actually think of anything similar.  Maybe doctors and nurses.

 

And finally he reaches his final point, that he gift of seeing this, of working with these women, is that they have given him courage.  He feels bad because his films do not make money, he wants a private plane, etc. etc. (he doesn’t say “the entire country hates me because of a thing I said that reminded them I was Muslim”, but we can fill that in), but this women teach him how to be courageous and survive, essentially.  It is the same “I’m not teaching them, they are teaching me” trite saying everyone says, but somehow he makes me believe it.

And then he ends that section by a perfect line, the line he should have used in his speech as the closer,  “I tell my two sons ‘I want to be a woman when I grow up.'”  It’s not just saying that he admires women to the point of wanting to be them, it is saying being a woman is a compliment, rejecting all the “throw like a girl” insults.  And it is saying that this is what he is teaching his sons, a reminder that it is the responsibility of the patriarchy to cure itself.

And finally, again, he focuses on divisions and the need to break them down.  A reminder that we (the people at Davos) are the gatekeepers of resources, not the owners of resources.

 

There are two smaller points he made that I couldn’t find a good place to put in, so I am just going to throw here at the end.  First, about social media, he argues that it will inevitably connect us, even to troll is to connect, we are just going through a momentary bump in the road.  It’s interesting how he brings up social media in these kinds of global conversations, I think it is something that is truly close to his heart, something he thinks about as well as uses.

And second, he talks about divisions a lot, but towards the end of his interview he mentions that divisions also exist in work, in the idea of specializations.  Which is what I am fascinated by!  If I were doing this interview, instead of stupid weird affect lady, I would have leaped on that.  Because, yes, just in the time Shahrukh has been working the Hindi film industry has followed the Western-corporate path of over specialization.  Instead of everyone doing a little bit of everything, and learning from each other, and being given a chance just because they needed a chance, it has turned more and more into needing a certificate, a training program, not being willing to do the thing beyond which you were hired to do.

Oh well, in my Shahrukh interview we will skip all the big picture globalization gender issues blah-blah and just talk about the nitty-gritty of film industry changes.  It will be much more fun.  And I will sit with my knees apart, now that I know he doesn’t care about that.  Although my mother still does.  Curses!

 

(Ha!  I knew there was a movie where he didn’t respect a woman’s choice!  Of course, he also dies at the end and is the clear villain, so I think over all it is okay message-wise)

 

 

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48 thoughts on “Shahrukh at Davos: Speech and Interview, Focus on Equality and Courage

  1. I don’t think he didn’t say “Insh’Allah” as a political statement. He says that when he is talking about his own future or his children, the same way many of us in a partially religious, partially superstitious way say, “God willing” after predicting something good will happen, i.e. “The baby is due in March, God willing.” I actually loved the Namaskar Jai Hind at the end. He was not representing himself, he was representing the country. He is the first to say he does not do more than many many others. Did you see that snarky tweet of Shafali Shah pointing out that other actors have one this Crystal too. Oddly mean spirited. I agree that the interview was better than the speech. I think he gets nervous when he can’t be funny or cute. And I agree that she was a terrible interviewer. Maybe she didn’t realize how hard it would be not to fall under his spell.

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    • Okay, that makes sense. I am okay with him saying “Jai Hind” and/or “Namaskar” when representing India, so long as he doesn’t stop saying “Insh’Allah” or doing an Adab when he is representing himself.

      I love Shefali Shah! Now I am all conflicted. What did her tweet say?

      And I am glad I was not the only one having a hard time with that interviewer! I could believe your theory, most interviewers do end up falling for him, getting all giggly and letting him go, maybe she was resisting so hard it made her unable to relate to him at all.

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      • He did do an adab when he first walked up on the stage.

        Actually, I thought he was representing India in the Crystal Awards section of the programming. I guess bc I always think he represents India. Just like the two American actors I am not a fan of, Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise, are self representative of the USA.

        You are right about the AbRam story. It just did not seem to flow as smoothly as his usual style of story telling efforts do. I also wondered why Gauri wasn’t there to see him receive such an honor.

        In a post award interview he mentioned slipping and sliding and hurting himself. I thought I heard that but have to find that again.

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        • Yes, he definitely said that in the interview, mentioned enjoying Switzerland and seeing all the snow, and then joking about slipping in it. Which could have been just a joke or, knowing what we know about his many many serious orthopedic issues, he could have done some real damage and thrown him off his game.

          I just rewatched, and yes there is a tiny little adab that switches to hands together a second later.

          Now that I think about it, Elton’s husband wasn’t there either that I saw. I wonder if it was more of a business trip/conference feeling than an awards feeling? If Gauri were a different kind of wife, I would think it would be kind of boring too, to come all that way and then just do one award’s banquet and then wait around in the hotel while your husband attends a million panels and learns things and networks. Of course, being Gauri, she could be on her own panels and learn her own things, but I can also see her just not wanting too bother. AbRam is still pretty young, traveling is a hassle, she has her own responsibilities in Bombay, and so on and so on.

          On Tue, Jan 23, 2018 at 8:57 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Gauri was in Paris, at the Maison d’Object show, a big international design platform, where she is showcasing her designs, and particularly her new Jaipur rug collection. I wondered if she would hop over to Davos for the Crystal Award ceremonies but she didn’t.

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          • As he sat down, he favored his right knee and thigh, putting hands under and around the area. So I wondered if he twisted something.

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          • That might explain his speech! His existing back/leg/shoulder injuries don’t seem to be that much more or less painful depending on whether he is sitting or standing. But if he wrenched his leg, maybehe was in more pain during the speech than the seated interview.

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  2. It was Tania Breyer (CNBC), the lady you don’t like 🙂
    Was really waiting for your thoughts about speech and interview and can well relate to your observations. I also think that he did last changes because of less time (Cate Blanchett’s speech was the double time of his) and obviously he was nervous, too. (I have to re-listen to the AbRAm part…it seemed weird…)
    I very much liked the passion he displayed in both, speech and interview, especially in the interview…and of the three awardees, he was the only to acknowledge the other two.
    He also did some other interviews, but the ones I came across where in Hindi.

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    • I was really interested in how his passion came across. He cared about this cause, but he wasn’t asking for help with it, if anything he was rejecting help. Saying “I can take care of my 400 women, and inevitably legal issues and so on will be resolved, so I don’t have anything to promote”. But at the same time having a passionate general message that everyone should do what they can to fix the inequalities of the world, especially in terms of gender.

      One thing I forgot to mention in the post is that felt like part of his representing India. He wasn’t playing the game of “we are a 3rd world country and need to change our laws and hundreds of women are horribly scarred every year”. He was saying “no, we’re fine, we are moving forward and taking care of ourselves. But everyone in the world should look into their hearts and think about how they can do better and how they are causing these problems”

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      • Both, his speech and his interview with Tania (and maybe also the second interview with her he did back to back) would be worth a transcription, I think. As he is a fast speaker doing quick little comments on his own words, it would be easier to catch everything he said.
        I admired his openly honest and clear stand towards the addressed issues concentrating on the doable and the positive. One may lable his requesting, imploring, begging women for a yes if he needs one as a weakness but I feel that there is no weakness in his opinions.

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  3. I really really dislike that photo of Cate & Elton with SRK. He’s seated between them, yet they are talking past him? #worldfamousyetinvisible

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    • That’s why he’s giving the camera the eye! “Can you believe this?”

      Also, just realized they (Elton and Cate) are both British which gives a whole over tinge to it, with the awkward British-Indian history.

      On Tue, Jan 23, 2018 at 7:35 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Hmm. I think Cate Blanchett is a life long Aussie. You might be mixing her up with Kate Winslet, her contemporary, who is British.

        Also, Cate (the Aussie actress) played Elizabeth (the British queen) in the 2 Shekar Kapur (the Indian director) films.

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        • This is all too confusing! There are too many British colonies and ex-British colonies (I say as an American :))

          Good point! Shahrukh should have pigeonholed her and gotten her to sign on to the “Make Mr. India 2” campaign with Shekhar Kapur.

          On Tue, Jan 23, 2018 at 7:57 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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    • Interesting interpretation. I don’t get that vibe–there are other photos where they are clearly all three interacting. I interpreted this as him letting his inner fanboy show through (to us, his fans, and maybe his friends and family) to the camera–as only he can as the master of facial expressions!

      There’s a cute gif on twitter of Cate and Elton’s expressions when he says the “can I do a selfie?” line. They are clearly charmed and amused. No one can resist.

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    • I did see him live! So if that counts, me and 10,999 other people met him. It was very intimate.

      Strangely, I have had many more close encounters with Aamir. The last time I went to India, the woman I was randomly seated next to on the plane was talking with me and found out I like Indian movies and said “oh, I just had dinner with Aamir Khan”. Her best friend from college was a friend of his cousin’s or something like that, so when he was in Chicago filming Dhoom 3, she and her friend and her friend’s husband had dinner with him. She said he was very nice, very intelligent, brought his own food because he was on an extreme diet.

      And then Dina, my good friend that I do the podcasts with, met him when he was filming. She waited around near filming in the middle of the day in the middle of the week and he notices this little of like 3 people waiting and told them to go over by his vanity van and he’d talk to them. The security guys let them through just by saying “Aamir said we could”, and then he came around and spent twenty minutes talking with them and taking photos and signing autographs.

      And I had a co-worker who used to do security for Salman when he came to town.

      But Shahrukh, closest I have come is that night with him, me, and the other 10,999 people.

      On Tue, Jan 23, 2018 at 7:42 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  4. Hi Margaret I feel he did not say insha Allah was bcoz the Indian right wing would tear into him for being a Muslim and so on. A namaste was safe. Secondly srk does his charity in private, which I like, not like salman with his mega in your face promotions for his charity.

    Thirdly there wasn’t much enthusiasm shown by bollywood for srk? He was representing them. Any theories for the same?

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    • I was always really pleased by how determined he was to say “Insh’Allah” and do the adab and not hide who he was, I hope this was just a temporary change while representing India, not something that he is doing more and more out of fear. Do you know if he has dropped it more in other interviews and so on?

      As for why there wasn’t much enthusiasm, I wonder if it goes back to what you are saying about Shahrukh doing his charity in private? It’s not the kind of award that the industry as a whole feels comfortable trumpeting. And it’s not something that Shahrukh himself would necessarily feel like he should be complimented on. Like, if he got an Oscar nomination, that would be something the whole industry is excited about and the sort of thing he would expect his colleagues to compliment him on. But an award for his charity work is a little different.

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      • I can’t really comment on whether he has started doing it deliberately or just sometimes. Like in a podcast with aib guys he was telling that he is extra conscious before speaking as he doesn’t want to create controversy.
        Secondly these film industry ppl are suckers for publicity, showing unity etc. Even for a small event they create too much hype. My grouse was there wasn’t much social media buzz like congrats etc. We r proud of you and other such thing.
        Correct me if I am wrong

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      • I agree with the part that this award had nothing to do with the Hindi filmindustry as such (which ShahRukh expressed himself). As for his greeting gestures, I felt, it was adequate. One of his crore thinking is the equality being a truth and as he was invited on an international forum were the labling identity was the national one, his final greeting was national-Indian…when he came on stage and turned to the audience greeting it, he did it in a combined gesture first the muslim greeting then the folding hands without saying something. So he silently showed his combined identities but pronounced his Indian one.
        I don’t think that he himself would say that he ‘represented’ India – that task he shifted at once to Modi but he won’t let slip a possibility to show his affection for his homeland. I am profoundly convinced, however, that his philosophical thinking encompasses all humanity and therefore is truly global.

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  5. You mention several times here that Shah Rukh wasn’t asking for anyone’s help in the charity work he does. That has been a signature feature of his charity work–that it is his alone.Meer Foundation is fully funded by him and (I think) doesn’t accept donations. I think this is because he wants to maintain control over his charitable work, and doesn’t want others who may publicize it to be involved. He has repeatedly said over years that charity done with a public face isn’t really charity. (I can’t help myself from mentioning Salman and Being Human, as snarky as it is, but I will resist a full tirade on that topic.)

    I also think that one of the reasons he loves this particular work, which he didn’t really talk much about, is that with 400 or so victims a year, it is a number and a group he can get his hands around. Literally! I think he particularly likes that he can see and talk to and hug a group of these survivors and it feels more “real” than just donating money to a cause (as in the case of the villages he “adopted” to provide electricity).

    In an interview a few years back (it may have been the “Walk the Talk” one) he talked about how he reads the morning papers and if there’s a story about people in need (often individuals) he will refer his “team” to the article and ask them to arrange for help. Anonymously of course. So it seems to me that, along with building hospital wings, he really connects with helping people on a smaller, targeted scale. The work with acid attack survivors feels the same.

    And just to chime in on the Namaskar and Jai Hind discussion, I believe he also did the Namaskar in his TED talk. I agree with those who say he behaves differently in spaces where he views himself as representing India. He still peppers his interviews during movie promotions, for example, where the focus is more on himself as an actor and movie star, with plenty of Insha’Allah’s. So don’t worry, he hasn’t dropped that!

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    • Yep, he also did Namaskar in his TED talk, which was my big take away. I liked it that time, that it was a clear pride in where he came from, before giving this speech in English. But here, along with the Jai Hind, I was worried it felt forced. If he still peppers all his interviews with “Insh’Allahs”, I won’t worry!

      To be fair to Salman, until his PR situation really deteriorated, be did charity the same way Shahrukh did. And still does. Money given out to people who stop his car and ask for help, or fans who write in to him, etc. etc. Being Human, I think, gives him a lot of joy to promote, to feel like his films and work has a purpose, but I also think he only started it up because his back was to the wall. I hope that Shahrukh doesn’t feel like he is in a similar position and this is the start of it. The silence from the rest of the industry about the award, to me, is a good sign. If Shahrukh wanted this to be part of an image campaign, he would make sure it was talked about a lot more.

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  6. What’s so wrong about women crossing their legs?It’s so comfortable and relaxing.Especially when you cross it once more at the ankles.You don’t get to do that when there’s someone older than you in the room.So whenever you do it,it generally imparts the idea that you are comfortable,you’re with your friends and relaxing.I do wish more men would so too,instead of sprawling all over the couch like they own it.As for sitting with open legs,that’s your prerogative too,except when you’re wearing a short skirt and you don’t want to flash.

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    • In Western culture, as my mother taught me, a “lady” always keeps her knees tight together as though she were wearing a girdle (you didn’t have girdles in India did you? Lucky you!). So you can cross your legs at the ankles, but that’s it. And you would certainly never spread your knees apart for any reason. Things have loosened up in the 50 years since girdles stopped being required, crossing at the knees like the interviewer did so everything is still tight together is acceptable. But sitting knees apart or even crossed loosely, is still not “ladylike”.

      But Shahrukh is right! Why can’t we sit comfortably, even when there is someone older than us in the room? Or when we are in a formal setting? Or being photographed? If your skirt is full enough, you can be modest in any position.

      On Wed, Jan 24, 2018 at 9:31 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • I thought that particular bit about folding your legs side wise in the Princess Diaries was exaggerated or applicable only to royalty.Girdles look somewhat like bodyshapers.The latter has become increasingly a part of the Indian woman’s wardrobe these last few years.Makes me long for the good old 90s Bollywood when Sridevi,Madhuri and Juhi reigned supreme and having a normal figure was not a sin.Forget about girdles,women in Kerala wore the bare minimum on their upper bodies before the Europeans imposed their ideas about modesty on us.I bet those early bra burning feminists would have loved the idea.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Nope, my Mom had “deportment” classes or something like that in her public high school in the 1960s, and all the girls were taught to sit that way. All “good girls” sat like that. And then she made sure me and my sister kind of sort of knew how “good girls” were supposed to sit, so that if we were in a situation where it mattered, we could. Maybe the equivelant of properly draping a sari? It’s no longer something that comes up on a day to day basis, but it is a big sign of class if you have to wear a sari and you don’t know how.

          The girdle wasn’t for thinness, it was to force your legs together and make sure your hips never moved and create a smoothline under your dress. Which is what I notice as the biggest difference now that “bodyshapers” come into play. You can’t move naturally in them, so I find actresses movements much less graceful. Sridevi, in her jeans and saris and so on, every movement was like a dance.

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    • Sarcastic.

      I know I’m being petty, for some reason I just don’t like her, and it was picking up on Shahrukh’s comment right above about women being taught how to do everything including the proper way to sit.

      If I am being serious, she is a small example of what he is talking about. Here she is, a respected journalist on an international forum, and she still has to wear a dress and sit “properly” or else no one will listen to her. And wear make-up and have nice hair and so on and so on. While Shahrukh can wear a comfortable suit that he has worn dozens of times before and brush his hair and then just go out and talk without being constantly aware of his posture and position and so on.

      On Wed, Jan 24, 2018 at 10:38 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Ya I agree, the interviewer rubbed me the wrong way and i definitely see your point about her being a smaller example of women being required to look a certain way and put more effort into their appearances and the way they conduct themselves

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    • Oh goodie! there has been tragically little Shahrukh coverage (besides this), so you haven’t missed much. I’m trying to be an adult.

      On Thu, Jan 25, 2018 at 8:00 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • I enjoy reading and discussing most of your posts–not just the Shah Rukh ones! The only ones I don’t focus on are non-Hindi movie reviews. I don’t have time to get sucked into multiple regional industries as well as Hindi! 🙂

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        • That’s how I always felt about non-Hindi films! And still feel, on my gosh I really don’t have enough time to cover them. So resist! RESIST! Don’t get sucked in!

          On Thu, Jan 25, 2018 at 11:51 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  7. Here’s what I said about Shah Rukh’s award speech and the first interview with Tania on social media–I’m too lazy to paraphrase today.

    Award speech: This makes me proud to be a fan of Shah Rukh Khan. He acknowledged the accomplishments of the other awardees (pure class), and said, directly to the wealthy elites gathered at #Davos, that their own power may be getting in the way of them serving others. Brave but gracious.

    First Tania interview: One more post about Shah Rukh at Davos :). In many ways he is a typical liberal dood. His analysis, and certainly his work, aren’t radical. But he gets a lot right. He has a class-based understanding of sexism (there is an oppressor class and an oppressed class, and these have stemmed from different reproductive functions), and he gets that women mostly just want be who they are without definitions of “woman” forced on them. This is worth a watch also because he’s just a good storyteller.

    I haven’t watched the second Tania interview yet. I didn’t have the same reaction to her as an interviewer. I thought her questions were good, and it’s clear she has done her research on (or already knew about) Shah Rukh’s standing in India and the work, his work, and his persona. I didn’t find her condescending at all, as almost all American or English interviewers I’ve seen has (either because he is “just an actor”, or because he is an Indian, or both). If her affect is odd in places, maybe it’s just her trying to stay a bit detached, to stay in the role of interviewer. Her expression when he takes her hands at the end! We are all her in that moment.

    I think he was nervous when he gave the award speech, yes. I think he truly felt awkward about the tiny Ms. Shwab holding the award the whole time. He generally flubs a little in his speeches–which make them seem more genuine and heartfelt to me, so I don’t mind. Clearly there’s not much about him that I mind. 😉

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    • I very much appreciated Shahrukh’s class-based feminism, partly because it cut through the “us” “them” nonsense a little. If he is talking in generalities about oppression and what drives it, then he is not speaking for the women in the same way as if he were attempting to talk specifically about what drives misogyny.

      It’s kind of the same thing I struggle with here, I feel like I can talk generally about social issues as a thinker, but I have to be careful not to cross the line into talking about someone else’s experience, for someone else.

      Speaking of which, you should check out yesterday’s DDLJ post! I really need to rebrand it, it’s not a DDLJ post, it’s a thinky post about the immigrant experience.

      On Thu, Jan 25, 2018 at 11:59 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Yet the movie is also about this subject, even in the second half because I did not feel that Simran’s father really felt at ease…okay, on the surface, but some fears remained relevant…and Raj’s father was as much at ease there than in London. In the contrary, I find it a good idea to grab the subjects emerging and elaborate them in such a kind of analysis.

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        • As for Davos…I agree with you, Procrastinatrix…basically he gave his opinion about all the relevant things concerning women empowerment…and sometimes it were the little ‘by-scentences’ that I found important.

          I also admired his honesty concerning his involvement in the work with the Meer Foundation.

          Liked by 1 person

  8. Finally got to watch a little of the interviews. Sounds like he has a cold, poor thing.
    The interviewer is annoying because she sounds like the annoying English documentary producer in Jab Tak Hai Jaan, similar voice and/or accent. I don’t know why the English speaking actors in a lot of Hindi films are so irritating.
    Also, she kept pushing him to criticise Donald Trump, which was both irrelevant and unfair. Of course Shahrukh managed to partly sidestep the question by saying he will SMS him.

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    • I didn’t see that part in the interview I watched, but she was similarly pushing about the Indian Prime Minister, and again Shahrukh was very carefully avoiding any comment.

      On Sat, Jan 27, 2018 at 4:04 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  9. Pingback: Silly Sunday: an Acid Survivor Romance, Inspired by Shahrukh at Davos | dontcallitbollywood

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