Shahrukh Speaks on Film Controversies, Agrees With Me, This is Why I Am His Fan

Oh look, Shahrukh is saying something important just as my blog views are beginning to drag again.  He loves me!  It’s totally not a one-sided thing.

Asmita directed me towards this quote through a Facebook link, and it is interesting and all, but also HA HA HA HA!!!!  I WAS RIGHT!!!  I RULE ALL!  Because Shahrukh is saying stuff that I said was what he/the rest of the industry was thinking.

And also, once again, Shahrukh and I were in agreement on how to handle a situation.  Which, as I have said before, is why I am his fan.  Because we are so similar.  Doesn’t mean we are right about how we looked at the situation, just similar.  I’ve picked a movie star to follow who believes what I believe and thinks like I think, not just because he has cute dimples.

Here is what I said weeks back:

This controversy, it reflects badly on the entire industry.  I’m not saying the Padmavat folks are in the wrong, no, not at all, clearly it is the anti-Padmavat politicians who are the bad guys.  But part of the reason stars and producers and directors and everyone is cautious about making the controversial film, taking a stand, is because they know they will be putting in danger not just themselves, but everyone around them.  And if you are planning to take that stand, or get forced into taking it, you have to make sure the damage is as limited as possible.  You try to avoid turning it into a massive film industry issue, you don’t court that….The industry was dragged into this issue for no good reason.  A foolish film made by a foolish man, and they are all paying the price once it somehow turned into an art and free speech issue, instead of just about this one film.  Which is perhaps why there was only limited industry support.  There was a clear message against threats of violence and the religious extremists who had taken over the country.  But there wasn’t a lot of “I will be there first day first show to see the film” or “I am heartbroken at how Bhansali is being treated”.  And the legitimate industry groups were conspicuously silent….It’s not the responsible thing to do, there is no way to really “win” this battle, you are just going to drag everyone around you into a deeper and deeper quagmire….On top of all the harm already done, the empty theaters for weeks in early December, the dangerous precedent of films being shown to be a soft political target, the film industry being made to spend their goodwill bank on this controversy instead of another more worthwhile one, and the audience being that much more turned off by suddenly feeling like seeing a movie is a political statement instead of just for fun.

And this is what Shahrukh said a couple days ago:

Creativity, whenever it’ll come to fore, all around the world, there are going to be people who disagree to certain parts. You will find some people who will find some reason to dislike it – be it a film, news piece, web series. It’s going to keep happening. It has happened to all of us at certain times in our career. Where certain sections of people have said they don’t like it. But the films finally do get released. If they are nice films, people lap it up.

I don’t know about the thick skin part of it but creative people do get emotional about it. One of the emotions is also that you become a little wary – you make it with so much love, where is it going, more often than not there is a certain business attached to that emotion which you can’t let go of.

Our business of films happen in the first few days. If you kill the first few days, the business suffers. Recently with the Viacom film (Padmaavat) we had people saying ‘why don’t the other stars come up, they are not coming up, oh they are hiding.’ No, we are not hiding. As a matter of fact, the simple truth is this – there is a section of people who go on an ‘uprising’ so to say.

If more prominent actors, actresses and directors came and talked about this film—as a matter of fact, many times I suggested to their team, not to talk about this, just keep quiet because you are giving wind to fire. And suddenly these people are getting more recognised by the virtue of being on all the news channels. So don’t give them importance.

Sometimes, when people are going in an ‘uprising’, you should just stand back. Nobody is scared, fearful or hiding their own skin as is said about Bollywood stars, ‘oh these people just want to earn money and not do anything for the society.’ No. We love our society. We make entertaining films and we want our society to be happy.

A part of that happiness is as a 52-year-old father, I want you to come to the theater safe and sound with your child and happily go, even if you don’t like the film. The experience should be fantastic. That’s my responsibility. So the hurtfulness is not because ‘I am worried about my film’ but I am worried about that girl, my own son watching the film.

So that’s my responsibility, as an entertainer—who has been working for more than half of his lifetime—it’s an important aspect. It’s not something that I’ve gotten scared of. No matter however much you stop them, creative people will continue making films, they will speak what they want. Sometimes there could be troubles, but they won’t be scared of the hardship.

No filmmakers goes out and makes films to insult people, to trouble regions, to disturb the community. I never think anyone does that. Specially all the responsible people. Sometimes this is going to happen.

The sooner the world realizes that with this free flowing of information, technology and communication that is happening, a time is going to come when nobody can stop any idea from flowing freely. None of us can stop it. The faster we get used to this, that no matter how much we stop it, break it, hide it, the ideas won’t stop. All the more with social media and digital. This is the beauty of the current world for entertainment and media.

 

Before digging into the statement, let’s look at the context.  This was at a trade conference focused on Maharashtra.  This is what my point was with Padmavat, don’t think of it as a political or a moral issue, that’s all moonshine and hogwash, think of it economically.  You are destroying a valuable local industry with the protests.  By choosing this setting, Shahrukh is immediately moving it out of the “he said-she said” political nothingness realm, and into the position of “let’s consider what this will do to the economy, to the wage earners, to the country as a whole”.  It’s similar to Karan’s choice to respond to Kangana at a summit in England.  He didn’t want to talk about nepotism to Pinkvilla or some other gossip driven place, he wanted to go somewhere that his words could resonate and be considered before the news cycle began.  Where he was clearly addressing the world at large and asking for their careful thought rather than “sending a message” to one person.  And Shahrukh is doing the same, asking for general consideration of the big picture of what these protests do to the economy and the everyday man and woman.

shah rukh khan on padmaavat

(And also looking really hot with the good pocket square and the scruff, so we will pay attention to him)

The other context is the timing.  Padmavat is now officially an unqualified success.  And it is moving towards the end of its run, about to leave theaters.  There is nothing that will change, no minute by minute coverage to look to, now is the time when you can look back and reflect on what it all means.  Shahrukh is choosing this time to speak in order to consider reflection rather than reaction.

 

And he is breaking his response down into several parts.  He begins with the creative artistic aspect, that you will make the film you want to make, and if it is good, people will like it.  But you have to learn to be “wary”, because creativity can be attached to business and you need to be able to handle that.

 

And then he goes into the purely industrial part of it.  Business happens in the first few days, anything that threatens those opening day figures is a risk.  That is why the industry is cautious about anything that might cause harm to their fragile economy.

 

And then, finally, after having established the creative (“I made this with love and want people to love it!”) and business (“I could go bankrupt if there isn’t a good opening”) concerns that drive everyone in the industry, he digs into his response.  Or rather, lack of response.  And points out that this was a choice made by himself and others because to speak up was to legitimize the opposing view, to feed the fire.

It wasn’t fear, and it wasn’t because he and others did not care, it was because they did not see that there was any good result here, to speak up at all would just increase the controversy.

Which is where Shahrukh and I are in agreement!  With certain issues like this, I truly do not see the purpose in writing about them.  I am also not going to write about that actress who winks and is an instagram celebrity.  She’s famous for nothing, and writing about how she is famous for nothing will just serve to make her more famous.  For nothing.

While I gave an almost day by day update on the Ae Dil Hai Mushkil controversy, I spent almost no time on Padmavat.  Because much of it was, really, nothing.  With ADHM, there were legalities and meetings and eventually a resolution.  With Padmavat, it was just a lot of hot air meaning nothing in the end.  And to join in that discussion would mean simply blowing more hot air at it.

Image result for shahrukh magnetic maharashtra

(See how excited people get just seeing him arrive at a trade conference?  Speaking up on an issue would immediately get that issue millions more views and attention)

Shahrukh is following this rule even while finally speaking.  He doesn’t say the word “Padmavat” because he knows that will just turn it into a soundbite.  He says “Viacom 18” reminding us that it was the product of a company, and he is talking about that company and the industry within which it works, not any particular film.

He also doesn’t bother to defend his statement that they are not afraid and they are not hiding.  Because, I think, he doesn’t feel it needs defending.  The film industry may not have taken a stand on this issue, but there is a long record of stands they all, including Shahrukh, have taken in the past.  Everyone has a storm they have ridden out.

And everyone has proven their sense of responsibility to society.  The charity concerts, the massive personal donations, the massive donations of time, the leading figures of the film industry do more directly to help society in their personal lives than the politicians, the athletes, the artists outside of film (what few their are of them) and certainly than the wealthy of the country.  I’m not saying they couldn’t do more, everyone could always do more, but they do a lot.  There is no reason for the media to label them as “uncaring”.

Image result for shahrukh magnetic maharashtra

(Speaking of caring Shahrukh and hotness, did I tell you what my friend and I decided about Red Chillies?  What with Shahrukh’s aggressive female hiring practices and care for his employees, don’t you think when the office staff’s cycles synch up, they must be able to put up the SRK signal and then he comes down and is hot for a while and massages their shoulders and gives them chocolate ice cream and makes all the PMS go away?)

 

And then he ends with the same message he had at Davos, that the free-flow of communication is a good thing, will help us share, will help ideas to grow.

 

But before that he has one very revealing phrase: “No filmmakers goes out and makes films to insult people, to trouble regions, to disturb the community. I never think anyone does that. Specially all the responsible people.”

“Responsible people”.  This is what I said (again), Bhansali should never have made this movie, Viacom 18 should never have agreed to produce it, it just shouldn’t have happened.  It was irresponsible.

 

And I don’t know if that was a slip of the tongue or if Shahrukh planned it, but either way he was prepared to handle it.  Shortly after these quotes went live, it also came out that Shahrukh and Gauri had invited Bhansali to dinner at their house to celebrate his success, with a reminder that of course Shahrukh had remained friends with Bhansali in the years since they worked together, everyone is happy and friendly, nothing to see here.

I imagine this dinner is both a PR move and a personal relationship move. If you read between the lines of that whole long quote, what Shahrukh is saying is “You were an idiot to talk in public about the film, I don’t know what you were doing, you damaged the industry at large, and you were irresponsible.  But it’s cool, come over to my house for dinner!”

Image result for shahrukh bhansali

(“and then all the women in the office made me take off my shirt and do “Dard-e-disco”.  It was really weird, but I guess it helped with morale?”)

 

But the most important quote isn’t about the film industry at all.  It’s the one paragraph in the middle, the one he made sure would be quoted the most by referring to himself as a “52-year old father”, a very catchy phrase everyone will want to repeat:

A part of that happiness is as a 52-year-old father, I want you to come to the theater safe and sound with your child and happily go, even if you don’t like the film. The experience should be fantastic. That’s my responsibility. So the hurtfulness is not because ‘I am worried about my film’ but I am worried about that girl, my own son watching the film.

 

Here’s one more quote from me, from the first time Padmavat was delayed:

Taking Padmavati as an example, the trailer set records for views as soon as it was released, clearly millions of people were excited to see this film.  And yet I’m not hearing a lot of people speaking for them, or them being allowed to speak for themselves, to simply say “I like watching movies.  I was looking forward to watching this film.  Now, there is nothing for me to see for the next several weeks and that is a disappointment to me.”

 

Now see, this is why I am a Shahrukh fan!  I’m not saying he and I are right and everyone else is wrong.  We could very well both be completely wrong in how we are interpreting the situation.  But we both look at it the same way.  We are both concerned about the industry as a whole, unwilling to speak when it might just put fuel on the fire, and focused on that audience member who just wants to see a movie.

 

And it might also be why this blog has attracted so many SRK fans.  Not because I have an over-whelming about of SRK content (I really don’t, besides TGIF and FanFic Sundays), but because the way I analyze the industry and look at films is from a particular perspective, and if you share and appreciate that perspective, you also most likely share and appreciate the way Shahrukh is shaping his part of the industry.

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18 thoughts on “Shahrukh Speaks on Film Controversies, Agrees With Me, This is Why I Am His Fan

  1. Time and again he has applied this approach to the (many) controversies that surround him – stay silent, don’t fuel the frenzy. The only time he made an exception was about AbRam’s birth and it was tragic amd disgusting that it came to that.
    If Shahrukh were in charge of the whole world it would be a much better place.

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    • I was going to say that it is odd for someone who talks so much, that Shahrukh is so careful to not address certain issues. But really it isn’t odd at all, people who use a lot of words also tend to use them well, he knows how to say exactly what he wants to say and how not to say anything else.

      On Fri, Feb 23, 2018 at 2:29 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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        • I think so. Not so much the personal hatred, he experienced that before, but the significant box office hit taken by an unrelated film. With My Name is Khan he must have been prepared for a box office drop related to protests, but with Dilwale, it just came out of nowhere.

          On Fri, Feb 23, 2018 at 2:48 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Speaking of how SRK handles controversial things, did you happen to watch his BBC Hard Talk interview? He did a lot of international interviews while he was at Davos with this being one of them.

            It was certainly VERY different from what we normally see. The interviewer was extremely aggressive and clearly trying to trap him into making statements which would have likely gotten him into lots of trouble back home. Also the Western media seems to want to reduce him to his Muslim identity which he tried very hard not to fall for. It was an unusual interview because he was VERY careful, extremely measured in his words, not making any jokes or saying things off the cuff like he usually would. She was barely paying attention to what he was saying and hammering away trying to get him to speak in a certain way. He didn’t fall for it but it was quite strange to see.

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          • I finally watched it! Just now! My goodness that interviewer was irritating. I think it’s just because I don’t want interview shows like this, so I wasn’t used to how little she was willing to listen to an actual answer. Especially the “Indian delagates here have told me your films are bad for women” question. Good lord! Either let him answer in depth and philosophy, or give him specific examples to counter and discuss, don’t keep dragging it back to this general accusation with no interest in a general discussion.

            Watching it, it felt like that part threw him more than the rest of the interview, because it was so completely unexpected. Not like “gotcha” but like “really? you are asking me this? based on some American researchers and random people you talked to? And you aren’t letting me, the world’s leading expert on Shahrukh Khan movies, actually answer in depth?”

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  2. Margaret, on the issue of your readership and comments rising when you write about Shahrukh – I can only speak for myself, but I adore him, I know lots about him, I have opinions about him and will comment when I can.
    Much as I love reading your pieces about other issues in the industry, especially the southern films, I know very little about them and have no time to watch them at this point in my life. Consequently I have nothing to say. I basically experience the whole industry vicariously through your posts, which I enjoy very much. I have seen a handful, including the Bahubalis, and am intrigued to actually start watching the films you write about someday, so please do keep it up!

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    • That’s what I thought from the nature and content of the comments, from you and others. It’s not so much that people “care” more about Shahrukh (although that is part of it), it is that he is the entry point into the industry, so it is easier to discuss and comment on posts where he is the main focus. I do it myself, in my general industry discussion posts I have to consciously force myself not to use Shahrukh or a Shahrukh film as an example, because it is where I feel most comfortable and familiar.

      (also, you should watch my latest youtube video :))

      On Fri, Feb 23, 2018 at 2:44 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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    • Same here. No time or even the interest in the Southern industries. Seems too high a mountain to climb. But regardless, I gravitated here simply because it’s peaceful. I don’t need anyone to agree with me but I sincerely dislike the hatefulness and trolling and this expectation that you have to hate one star to like another that is pervasive all over the BW fandom sites.

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      • If I ever put up user reviews, your “it’s peaceful [here]” will go right at the top! That’s a fair enough goal for me to have above all else.

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  3. I probably identify more with aamir when assessing my own personality, but there’s nothing to not admire about SRK. I especially in awe of his quick thinking razor sharp intellect. It’s his superpower IMO.

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  4. I’ve commented on the Hard Talk interview (ugh!) in your earlier post discussing it (too late for anyone to care but I just saw the post) but this post goes hand in hand with it in many ways.

    I found Shah Rukh’s comments on that (in my opinion) pathetic movie to be the most interesting part of the entire doo-dah. If he did indeed have anything to do with the people involved in the making of Padmavat’s keeping quiet about the controversies then he should receive the highest award possible from India. He has taken responsibility not only for the entire Indian film industry but for the country as a whole. And, as usual, with no thanks from anyone.

    I agree with you that the film should never have been made. It added absolutely nothing to any rational discourse about history or religion or anything else and I found it as boring and un-entertaining as all SLB’s other films. All flash and no substance–or rather all costuming and no substance. I also think he should have gotten Red Chillies to do the VFX and CGI because the special effects were so incredibly bad that they were a constant distraction from what little story there was!

    Clearly, I’m not a fan and I only watched the film because I had a free pass and couldn’t resist seeing what all the fuss was about. I spent most of the 5 or 6 hours it lasted in a theater with 3 other people, looking at my phone and hoping that if I stayed, something interesting would happen. Alas, no! Except that as a woman I was annoyed as heck that the women in the cast didn’t pick up discarded weapons and die fighting the invaders rather than ‘saving their honor’ by immolating themselves! Because they went to their deaths without doing anything to save themselves OR ANYONE ELSE, they actually HAD NO HONOR!!!

    Anyway, so now three rather mediocre actors have now received additional acclaim and all is well in the world. At least the radical right was denied a victory. Not that I believe it will stop them from further attempts.

    And, now on to Shah Rukh~my favorite topic. Faridoon Shahryar said it today: That SRKs speech was that of a statesman. “He is a visionary but most importantly he is a humanist.”

    While others in his industry are interested primarily in advancing their own interests and popularity (despite all the fanfare surrounding the ludicrous display of sanitary napkins!) SRK has taken on responsibility for the entire film industry. He recognized very early on that Hollywood has taken the path of divide and conquer and that Indian filmmakers would have to abandon their own petty squabbling an in-fighting or the entire industry would be destroyed. And he is trying to do something about it. Only one of the very many reasons I (and so many others!) love him. Another one is that he makes the best films in the industry~I have just spent a week trying (and failing) to watch what’s new on Amazon and Netflix and there are some truly awful Indian films out there!

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    • Yes, exactly, Shahrukh’s vision is of the whole industry and the whole of Indian society and how it all fits together. And I don’t feel he is alone in that. I think Aamir and Salman and Amitabh and even Akshay have similar views. And I think Sonam Kapoor is coming up that way, and Saif is there, and all sorts of them. But the few outliers are the ones who actually make a fuss, who talk in public and make the big splashy moves that will ultimately accomplish nothing. They are seen as “brave”, but I think in most cases they are really foolish, because change isn’t going to happen with those big public statements, in fact it might be hindered. Which is what Shahrukh was saying, don’t feed the fire, keep it quiet, and wait for it to blow over.

      On Sat, Feb 24, 2018 at 8:54 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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