The Other Problem With Shahrukh: Rebranding “Brand SRK”

I already did a post on the “fake” problem of Shahrukh and women, and the “real” problem.  Now, let’s look at the “fake” problem of Shahrukh and his movies and the “real” problem.

For Shahrukh Fans: The first bit will be nice, the second bit will be hard, but keep reading to the end because I bring it around again.

For non-Shahrukh Fans: The first bit may seem like I am blind, but keep reading, I get into criticism in the second bit.  And the ending doesn’t totally absolve him.

 

 

The argument I am seeing that is just plain wrong, that Shahrukh is artistically stagnating, making “safe” choices.  That, in fact, he has always made safer choices and been less artistically adventurous and talented.  And this gets into the issue of Confirmation Bias and cherry picking arguments.  If you assume that Shahrukh’s career should only be looked at from the late 90s on.  If you assume that only his more successful/popular/best remembered films should be considered.  If you carefully reject even some of those popular films.  Then yes, this is true.

But that’s a pretty obviously flawed argument!  First, I personally find Shahrukh to be an enormously talented and skilled actor.  You may disagree with me, but please don’t assume that I am “obviously” wrong, or blinded by my fandom.  For one thing, he is one of the best trained actors working in Hindi film today, he had a good 5 years in a theater group before entering movies.  He got his first roles because of his acting training.  It’s not crazy to say that we see a talented actor there.

And if you look at his filmography as a whole, unless you go through saying “this doesn’t count, this doesn’t count, this doesn’t count” for a variety of reasons, he has the most creative experimentation of any actor in the history of Hindi cinema except Dilip Kumar, Amitabh Bachchan, and Sanjeev Kumar.  He is most certainly not sleeping his way through his recent movies, or taking the easy choice, or doing the same thing over and over again.  Most frustrating to me (and to other people who have watched and enjoyed his recent films), often that argument is made by people who didn’t even watch his newest work!!!!  They just assumed it was “the same thing again” based on posters or what they heard second hand.

Image result for jab harry met sejal

(This is not a Shahrukh you have ever seen before onscreen.  Trust me, I’ve actually watched the movie many times over)

But yes, there is a problem with Shahrukh and his recent movies, obviously, anyone can see that from the box office numbers.  But again, it’s not the easy superficial answer.  It’s not simply “they are all bad films” or “Shahrukh is a bad actor”.

 

Now, what’s the problem with Shahrukh’s movies?  Why has the box office dropped off, why do so many people believe they have seen it all before?

 

 

 

 

Shahrukh’s Brand Problems: Shahrukh, since the beginning of his career, has used his personal brand to promote his films.  This was a brilliant idea at the beginning when he had nothing to sell BUT himself.  But it has become lazy in the years since then.

One of the most common complaints about Shahrukh is that he “always plays the same role”.  This is not true AT ALL in terms of his films, but it feels true because it is true of his non-film performing.  We have had 25 years of “Shahrukh the clever witty family man just like us mugging for the camera” in our faces at all times.  That is the role that he needs to shake up.

Especially since it is more and more clearly an act.  He isn’t a “family man just like us” any more.  It came up in the comments of a recent post how strange the birth of AbRam was for the fandom.  And that made me look back at that period of his life.  In that same period, he had the release of Ra.One, which was kind of the announcement of Red Chillies as not just Shahrukh’s friendly little hobby studio, but a major player in Indian entertainment.  He’s not a guy who works for a salary like anyone else, just on a film set, he was a major corporate player.

Image result for shahrukh ra.one mcdonalds

(He coordinated a McDonald’s tie in promotion.  That’s Disney level stuff, that’s not average guy from Delhi with a struggling studio type stuff)

And he sent Aryan overseas to an exclusive boarding school.  Middle-class guys from Delhi don’t send their kids to boarding school.  They keep the family all together and help the kids with their homework every night, and drop them at school in the morning.  They don’t have the money to send their son to London, and it’s not something they would be comfortable with anyway.  That’s the kind of thing that the upper upper classes, royalty even, do.  Shahrukh isn’t just the average loving father, he’s the equivalent of royalty.

And the rumors of the Priyanka affair broke.  Whether or not the rumors were true, they did serious damage to his “I’m just a regular guy married to my high school sweetheart” image.  At the very least it was a reminder that he was a guy married to his high school sweetheart who also worked intimately with beautiful woman, many of whom fell in love with him.  He’s not the dopey helpless sweet husband, he’s an international sex symbol and lady killer.

And then there was the fight at Sanjay Dutt’s party.  There had always been stories of his vicious temper, but they had been swept under the rug with all the happy charming interviews, the self-deprecating comments, the warm moments with friends.  This was a reminder that he wasn’t just some teddy bear guy to fantasize about, he was a real person who got drunk and got angry, and who you may not like if you met him in real life, and he may not like you.

Image result for shahrukh sanjay dutt

(Sanjay Dutt dragging a drunk Shahrukh out of his party is not the image we are used to)

And finally, there was AbRam.  Your average middle-class guy from Delhi isn’t going to have a late in life baby, he is going to follow the government recommended “Hum Do, Hamare Do/We Two, Our Two” policy.  And he definitely isn’t going to have a baby by surrogate.  Most of all, our “good friend” Shahrukh from Delhi, the one who was always so seemingly open about himself because he trusted us and was just like us, isn’t going to keep this from us, let the news of the baby come out weeks after it was born instead of being proudly announced from the start.

Since that moment, if not even earlier, the Shahrukh Khan personal “brand” has been increasingly disconnected from the Shahrukh Khan real person.  He has a right to his privacy, certainly, but there is a difference between keeping your real self private, and lying publicly about what that real self is.  Instead of staying strictly carefully private (as Aamir Khan has done or most of the younger stars) he is still going out in public wearing a suit that doesn’t fit him any more, that feels like a lie.

And it is severely effecting his films.  Every film Shahrukh makes is promoted based on that out of date Shahrukh Khan “brand”.  You liked the idea of him as forever always in love with his wife?  Fine, here he is making a series of friendly flirtatious personal appearances with his latest female co-star.  You like him as the “everyman”?  Fine, here are a bunch of interviews where he talks about his kids and his home life.  You like him as the struggling hardworking outsider?  Fine, we will never ask a question that implies he has control over his films (which he himself produced!  He has TOTAL control!) instead we will keep it directed towards his performance as part of an acting team, as though he is still working for “the Man” instead of being “the Man”.

Image result for AIB shahrukh

(In the AIB interview, he has this sweet self-deprecating moment, but he also talks about how he doesn’t need people to tweet him box office reports, he has box office reports, he tracks that himself.  A reminder that he ISN’T just a “big star”, but also a major industry figure and a business man)

First, we all know these appearances are a lie now.  They feel tired, fake, wrong.  He isn’t a flirtatious equal with his female co-stars, they are his daughter’s age, he is their mentor and teacher.  He should act like it.  And he doesn’t have an “average” home life.  Sure, he loves his kids, but he isn’t hanging out with them and their friends every night, they are off at boarding schools or with nannies.  Talk about that!  Or don’t talk about them at all. And don’t go around pretending to be a friendly show pony who loves the fans, go around and tell us about your marketing strategy and why you chose to release this film at this time, and your box office expectations.  And your serious deep acting struggles, not just “ha-ha, this song was hard to make”.

And second, the appearances give a lie to the film as well.  Back when his star persona was first drafted, the friendly-charming-in-love-everyman-from-Delhi was what he played onscreen as well.  Powerless, innocently in love with the heroine, good at heart, and oh so lovable.  The films where he played with that persona were fun ones, delightful surprises and winks to the audience, making his boyish charmer into a murderous stalker in Baazigar, Darr, and Anjaam, or even as recently as KANK, making his carefree lover into an embittered middle-aged man.

(This was Shahrukh on and offscreen, young and inexperienced and just arrived in the city, and very in love with a sweet average girl.  But that’s not who he is any more)

But now his public persona is not only completely divorced from his real life self, it is also completely divorced from the roles he is playing onscreen.  While Shahrukh-the-actor has grown in leaps and bounds in the past few years, Shahrukh-the-star has not bothered to catch up.  Jab Harry Met Sejal was a romance with Anushka Sharma, but beyond those bare facts, it had absolutely nothing in common with anything Shahrukh had ever done before.  The only thing tired about it were the promotions.  But that was enough to ruin the film.  Shahrukh killed his own movie, tarnishing it with the same old boring fakery that he had been using for years in real life, making people think that his character onscreen would be similarly fake.

At least Jab Harry Met Sejal escaped with the content of the film undamaged.  Happy New Year was not so lucky.  There was a great idea at the center of it which was ruined by the need to feed the out of date Shahrukh Khan star persona.

First, and most simply, Shahrukh was much too old to play his character.  Rather than seeming to be a young man recently graduated business school whose life took a turn, he seemed like an old man who was holding on to a grudge for much to long.  10 years earlier he could have played the role, but as it was, he needed to let Farah re-write the script, or re-write it himself, to fit an older persona.  But of course he couldn’t, because he wasn’t willing to let go of that idea of himself.

From that one mistake, dozens of others bloomed.  The DVD has a deleted alternate opening sequence to the film which would have immediately made it 20% better.  Rather than Shahrukh’s cool shirtless mud fight fan service opening, it was supposed to be Shahrukh in a business suit giving a  presentation on his security system to a bunch of tired old people at a retirement home.  The point of the film was a group of “losers” who were finally going to win, but instead of opening by seeing Shahrukh as a tired loser, we saw him as a perfect winner, literally winning right in the first scene.

Image result for shahrukh shirtless happy new year

The second theme of the film was the “Indiawaale” message.  Shahrukh’s character is defined by his English skills, his ability to smoothly navigate international territory.  The story was intended to be about him regaining his pride in his Indian identity through the process of setting aside his individual success for the pride of his country.  And that was where the romance fit in, Shahrukh in his self-hatred denigrates the woman who is Indian, who Abhishek first picks out to train them because she is “one of us”.  But by the end of the film he has learned to revere her, and by extension his country and Indian identity.

But again, this is lost.  Because Shahrukh cannot be self-doubting, cannot be out of control, cannot reject his NRI identity.  He can be charmingly confused, he can be proud of India, be can be tormented, but it’s not quite the same thing.  It’s not as obvious as the opening scene being cut, but there were dozens of decisions through out the film which destroyed this message in the service of raising up Shahrukh’s character and adjusting it to fit his usual persona.

In everything since Dilwale, there is no “Shahrukh Khan” as he has come to be known onscreen.  There are still flaws related to it, for instance the insertion of a romantic track which didn’t quite make sense in Raees, but his character and performance is consistently perfection.  And yet every film is promoted by that fake “Shahrukh Khan” spokesperson and the poison of that spreads and stains the product, makes people feel like his performance onscreen is “fake” it is the “same old thing” because his performance off-screen is.

This is the cause of the disconnect that you can see within this blog.  Those of us who consume little Indian pop culture content, either by choice or necessity (in my case, I don’t live in India, I don’t have satellite TV, and I don’t have time to watch it even if I did) are left with only the occasional interview where he reveals enough of himself to make it newsworthy (really just Koffee With Karan and the occasional in depth interview with a serious journalist) and his actual films.  If you primarily know Shahrukh for the past 10 years from his movies, you respect him as a mostly brilliant and innovative artist.  With a few serious disasters.  But if you live in a place where you are immersed in Shahrukh-Khan-the-Public-Persona, you know him as charmingly smarmingly fake and you can’t forget it or unsee it when you are watching his movies.

What I want is for Shahrukh to allow that distance for everybody.  Stop talking about himself so much, stop being everywhere, stop promoting his movies in the same old way.  If you don’t want to be honest with us, fine, just don’t lie to us.  Retreat.  Don’t say anything at all.

Image result for shahrukh poster ad

(This kind of poster shouldn’t be competing with film posters and confusing us)

 

 

 

Now, here is why this doesn’t bother me that much.  First, I take some responsibility on myself, to strive to separate Shahrukh-the-public-person from Shahrukh-the-role-he-is-playing-onscreen, and therefore see and value the work he is doing as an actor in recent years.  He could make it easier for us, but it’s still possible for the audience to do the work and appreciate his films for themselves.  And it should certainly be possible for critics to do that, they have a responsibility as well in helping the audience to see the difference between Shahrukh-the-public-person and Shahrukh-the-role-he-is-playing.

Second, ultimately it is his right to “lie” to us about who he is, I don’t think a celebrity necessarily has an obligation to tell the whole world about problems in his marriage, feeling old as his children age, what it’s like to be fabulously wealthy, any of that.  He can keep that to himself if he wants and present a false face to the billions of people he will never meet who follow his career.

And third, most of all, I think he is beginning (several years late) to start to address his image problem.  Accepting the award and giving serious interviews at Davos was a good start in rebranding himself as a serious powerful figure not just an entertainer.  And attending the Maharashtra business conference was another good step.  Along with cutting down on the “cute family” stories and over the top “I love my wife and am terrified of all other women” remarks.  And in the right interviews, he has gotten very serious and introspective about looking at the last third of his life and where he wants to go from here and what legacy he wants to leave behind

 

Maybe only the “fans” are talking about these things, because we are the ones who see every Shahrukh movie even if the buzz is that it is “just like the rest”, because we read every interview and notice the early signs of changing trends in how he presents himself, even because we read every interview and see how all along there were gaps in his perfect image and moments of truth in his public persona.  Shahrukh needs to put in the work though and get the rest of the world to see it as well, to force people to watch his movies and to make his moments of truth in real life not just here and there in every 3rd interview, but in all of them.  Or, best of all, to cut down on his interviews and public appearances until all that is left is those moments where he actually wants to be real.

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57 thoughts on “The Other Problem With Shahrukh: Rebranding “Brand SRK”

  1. Also regarding his personal PR, strangely enough SRK has never had any PR agency or personal publicist. He was well known for handling his own PR throughout his career and did a very good job with it. He would hire a team for movies, but not for himself. Nowadays though the media has become so huge and changed so much that I don’t think he can handle it himself and really needs to hire someone just for this purpose. He’s also stretched thin and is just so busy that I don’t think he even has the proper time to craft any strategies and just does things off the cuff.

    I disagree that that he’s deliberately selling a fake image. He is very much a family man even today and is intensely devoted to his kids. However, he’s been talking recently that adjustments have to be made for his stardom in order for his family to be able to live a more normal life. He mentioned it an interview with Rajeev Masand that now things have to be done a little differently. He gave some examples like how he and Gauri almost always travel in different cars even when going to the same place because there is going to be a rush on him with the cameras and media and fans. It’s something Gauri detests so they stagger their arrivals so she can enter in peace without all the noise and craziness. Similarly he’s talked about his decision to send the kids to boarding school. It’s something he hates and is exactly the Delhi father who wants his kids home with him all the time but it was not feasible anymore. It had gotten to the point that media was going to Aryan’s soccer games and putting video clips of him playing on TV news. They were constantly being bothered and pressured about whether or not they want to become actors. His kids started getting very disturbed with the attention and the only way to get them out of this fishbowl and let them breathe was to send them away. He and Karan Johar have both also mentioned that Gauri was completely freaking out at the thought of her kids leaving, especially Aryan who she is very close to. It was the huge reason behind why she started working because she didn’t have anything to do anymore with the kids gone.

    Also realistically, the only way to truly maintain a connection with audience is to talk about yourself personally. That’s why someone like Aamir Khan has respect as an actor but does not have the crazy love of fans like SRK does. Unfortunately, his life is too big, too rich, too powerful and too different now to be able to share that part of it with the audience. What will he talk about? The millions in the bank? The fact that he would be able to sleep with any woman if he wanted? Various properties and businesses? People can’t understand those things and won’t like them either.

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    • I think his strength and his weakness is in crafting his own brand. He did a wonderful job with the creating a unique persona that also felt remarkably “real” because it was real, it was something he came up with for himself, something that fit him live a glove. But now, like you say, he just doesn’t have time to craft a perfect alteration so it fits his new reality without being threatening. He needs to take some time and work with a team and figure out a way to be himself without being too much of himself.

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      • He doesn’t have to completely abandon his old persona, he needs to expand it to include his new responsibilities. He’s the mogul who hasn’t forgotten his roots. He was the charming boy who is now a man who is carrying a heavy load of responsibility for the wife he’s loved for decades, the children who need his protection, the people who work on his films and in his businesses and for his fans.

        He needs to cut back on his endorsements, spend less time doing interviews, retreat a bit to focus on family and responsibilities and then come back talking a lot more about the bigger picture of his life but contextualize it as he’s a nice boy who made good and is now trying as hard as he can to fulfill his greater responsibilities while holding on to his old values.

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        • You got it perfectly! He should absolutely hire to help figure out his new image.

          And when I read that, it kind of clicked into place for me that this is exactly what he is doing in his latest films! In JHMS, he is an aging sex symbol, feeling lost and disconnected with his roots, trying to remember who he was years ago before he started this epic journey. In Raees, he is a man struggling to take care of and represent his community, and willing to be a scapegoat if necessary to save them. And in Fan, of course, he is actually playing himself, himself in the present and the young Delhi boy he was in the past when he first arrived in Bombay, asking if anyone can telling the difference, if there is anything more to him than the “Shahrukh Khan” mask.

          He just needs to bring that into his public persona, let us feel the weight of the years at the top, the responsibilities, the tiredness, the loneliness, all of that.

          On Thu, Mar 22, 2018 at 8:26 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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        • @BollywoodNewbie

          “He’s the mogul who hasn’t forgotten his roots.”

          I couldn’t help but think…

          “SRK from the Block” 😀

          In all seriousness, since you are tangentially in this line of work, do you think he could take any PR tips from JLo? Like SRK, she’s had her hands in nearly every till (serious films, rom coms, nighttime tv, reality tv, dance, music, perfume, clothing line, Vegas residency, endorsements) and has navigated both shifts and calamities with near precision.

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          • This is super amusing to me because I grew up in the same neighborhood as JLo 😆

            I don’t think JLo is quite the right person. Her image took a hit and she’s sort of recovered but has never recaptured the heights of movie stardom she had in the late 90s-early 00’s.

            I’m trying to think of who would be the right model for SRK but it’s hard because no one in the US has the sort of stardom he has. It’s so much more personal in India than the US. No one is gathering outside Brad Pitt’s house on his birthday.

            I think probably the star he needs to look to for an example is Amitabh. Not to go into emeritus status but the sense of being a leader and spokesperson for the industry, only with the angle of being the head of household with responsibility for hundreds of people. No more aw shucks, I’m just a boy from Delhi. Instead, I was a boy from Delhi who remembers his roots but is responsible for the well being of many people.

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      • I suspect that’s why he’s let his charity work become more public now. It’s sad that he has to do that because it’s clearly something he doesn’t like doing based on the past 20 years. Lately I have even seen him tagging the Meer Foundation in his tweets. But it’s something he can talk about that is real and that he actually does and will be looked at kindly by the public.

        He’s stepped up his appearances at business summits and such too. 2018 so far already had Davos, the Maharashtra business thing and another Global Economic Summit where was he mingling with various CEOs and gave a speech. (The NY Times noted everyone stopped paying attention to Trump’s moronic son who was giving an interview at the time to take pics of SRK instead.)

        He’s also begun wooing the (prejudiced IMO) right wing. He was in the front row with Mukesh Ambani watching Modi’s speech at Davos. He was again in the front row watching another Modi speech last month.

        The Ted Talk and hosting the Indian version was probably part of the plan too. It’s a good fit for someone like him though I suspect it would be the kind of thing that would have very low viewership where TV is dominated about tacky tv serials about naagins. It’s still a good match with his current persona of a cosmopolitan, smart mature man, not the clownish ingenue fresh from Delhi.

        SRK is IMO going through some transition pains as he figures out what and how he wants to conduct the rest of his career. But he is too intelligent and savvy to not find his way out eventually.

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        • Yes, exactly. As I said at the end, I can get past the “Brand SRK” problem partly because his performances are still universally brilliant, partly because of course it is just a “brand” not the real person who peaks through in the in depth interviews and his actions in real life, and partly because he is seriously beginning to address the problem, and I have faith that after a few growing pains, he will emerge in a familiar but slightly new guise.

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  2. I think more than being branded incorrectly for the times, it is more the case of just having blown out his brand by being so omnipresent. It now seems to be so fashionable to hate on him. People seem to be tired of seeing his face, his mannerisms, his voice.

    I think that’s why Raees did so poorly. It was a well made film, with an end which was morally nuanced. Great chemistry with fellow actors. Interesting plot. And yet, it is a “failure”. It’s a shame, because he has been doing his best work in years. He needs to be careful about his films, though. JHMS was subtle, but deeply flawed. Dear Zindagi was great, and he allowed himself to play second fiddle to Alia, but that is not being remembered as “his” movie in any way. Which is perfect in a way, but he did give a great supporting role. Contrast that to the god-awful Shakti, now promoted on streaming services as his film, rather than Karisma’s.

    And he has to stay away from such poorly executed facial modifications. Better to stay out of the limelight in real life rather than push boundaries where they should not go. Fan and Dilwale failed badly on this basis. I fear for Zero for this same reason. Is there no-one out there to tell him this is a terrible idea? And so regressive to play a dwarf rather than looking for a Hindi speaking Peter Dinklage. Or ask Peter Dinklage to do it and dub? I do hope I’m proved wrong.

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    • He’s said in interviews about Zero that he was trying to escape the typical SRK role by making himself physically completely different. Which doesn’t mean it is a good idea, more means it is a bad idea on a whole new level. If he knows he has to escape “SRK”, then he shouldn’t be trying to do it with physical modifications, he should be actually doing it, dropping the public persona.

      On Thu, Mar 22, 2018 at 8:26 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Zero is for his vfx division. I think people don’t realize how huge Red Chillies actually is. The vfx division alone has almost 500 employees. He needs to keep providing work for them because he needs them to eventually get to a point where they can operate without him or his movies.

        He also opened a new division called Red Chillies Color last year and they’ve already worked on some 20+ movies.

        That’s apart from his regular production company and his sports ventures. He has sports teams in South Africa and the Caribbean along with India now.

        He is playing a long game here while many actors are chasing the quick disposable blockbusters. I think SRK is very acutely aware that age will prevent him from doing various things so he needs to have a set-up where it no longer matters at all. 20 years later, he will be just as powerful and making just as much money (or more) based on the build-up he is currently doing.

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        • And again, purely in terms of his personal brand, he needs to bring these things in more. Because we know them kind of in the background (well, maybe fans like you know them more than the rest of the world), but there is information generally known out there about the success of his studio and his teams and all of that. And yet he is still presenting himself as the humble actor. It makes it feel like he is hiding something, like his business success has a secret to it somewhere, he needs to figure out a way to just say that Zero is partly a challenge to his VFX team and he is looking at building a global VFX brand and the way to develop it is by working on challenging projects, and so on and so forth, instead of making people guess and feel like something important is being hidden from them.

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          • He said in some recent interview that with Fan he really missed the boat in explaining the vfx work to people and that he didn’t talk about it enough. He has been saying he will correct that with Zero because unfortunately where the Indian audience is concerned, they only see vfx when it’s explosions and fires and things blowing up. When the vfx is invisible (which is the kind of vfx he is after), it goes unnoticed like it’s not special.

            He has also said he refuses to let Red Chillies do outsourced grunt work which is what most Indian vfx companies do. They erase wires in HW movies and stuff like that and you can have a successful company doing that stuff but you don’t actually learn anything. You just become laborers.

            Unfortunately you can only talk about this in serious interviews and there just aren’t that many of those. And serious interviews anyway don’t get much viewership because they’re boring for people.

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          • Let’s give credit to Indian audiences & Indian VFX companies were its due. The vfx for both Baahubali movies & before that Arundhati & several other Telugu, Tamil movies were all done by India based companies & done extremely well with the budget available to them.

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    • Agree with every word here. I don’t watch the “young” parts of Dilwale because they messed with his face in post production to the point where he looks like a troll-face meme rather than a person. I just thank goodness he’s not gotten bad facial surgery (maybe some fillers here and there?) and hope that he never does. His Ted Talk at least seems to indicate he won’t. “Should I fix my face?”

      FAN I could go with because it served the story–but his acting as Gaurav needed to do extra heavy lifting to get me past the “Uncanny Valley” effect of his face. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncanny_valley

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  3. I loved this!! You’ve de-constructed SRK really well. I haven’t followed the marketing around SRK that well, but I think the issue with his movies was he was a little out of touch with the audience (like I mentioned on the other post).
    In Chennai Express, he felt he was acting his age – he constantly says hes 40 or so, but was acting like a 30 year old would. And I just hated HNY. Abhishek and Deepika were bright spots in it, but SRK just felt out of place. I even hated it more than Dilwale – which was again a lazy movie. By the time he realized that he’s not in sync with the audience, it was a little late. And Fan and JHMS I think he over-corrected. As for Raees, I really liked him in it 😦 the film was also mostly good except for the last 30 mins which seemed like they didn’t know how to end it. And Mahira was so unnecessary, she didn’t match him in the romantic scenes at all. Really there should’ve been magic there.. But the good thing is he’s not doing anymore Farah Khan or Chopra/Johar movies.

    Salman should be a case study for PR. Being Human and Bajrangi Bhaijaan were such smart choices for him, he has completely changed the way he’s being spoken about.

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    • Salman really is amazing. Mostly because, it doesn’t feel fake. I honestly don’t think it is fake, he clearly loved the role in Bajrangi Bhaijaan and really made it his own and it was probably the best script he had and the best performance he had done in years. And Being Human feels like a natural extension of charity work that we all knew he was already doing, just rebranded and formalized a little. Reshma Shetty (or whoever coordinated it) took the time to really get to know Salman and what would work for him and help people get to know him in a new way and then built around that.

      I’d love to see the same thing happen with SRK, take what is already there and just help the world see it in a new light. He doesn’t have to change a thing about the movies he is doing and how he is acting, (like you said, he’s already moving away from Karan and Farah and Yash Raj), he just has to change the way the world sees him personally so the films are appreciated.

      On Thu, Mar 22, 2018 at 9:31 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  4. Well, I agree about the marketing fails that SRK has recently been in, especially with Jab Harry Met Sejal. It mainly comes from fear because he knew this wasn’t the typical romance and it wasn’t the type of movie that was going to appeal to everyone. Honestly, just the subject of authenticity, sex especially for women, living a free life, etc. are not something that are mainstream in India and won’t be for a long, long time. Ideally, it should have been treated like a small movie and released in a small way so that the audience that likes this type of stuff would find it and spread good word of mouth for others like them. But sadly in BW, the industry acts like all movies are the same and should have the same huge box office numbers. The promotions might have been tired but it was planned to give it exactly the “same old vibe” so that enough people would show up in the first weekend so they can recover their costs.

    I also don’t think the “same old” thing really matters. Salman does the same old, same old and his movies are working so it’s unfair to level that criticism at others. Clearly the same old same old is fine with the audience when it comes to others. I actually think the problem is that SRK is NOT offering the same old thing people want from him. It’s just an easy criticism by people that don’t like him and get irritated with seeing him because he is EVERYWHERE.

    The intolerance controversy is also playing a big role in India especially under the current Hindu-nationalist government. They have whipped up the same kind of frenzy (worse even) than what Trump has done in the US. There are always whisper campaigns on facebook and whatsapp and even by TV channels like Times Now and Republic to brand him as antinational, traitor, Pakistan-loving ungrateful Muslim. That is also a big reason IMO for why he plays down how powerful he is and tries to go for an “average Delhi guy” image. Showing his power would make these people even more angry and frustrated and that’s not something he can deal with right now since he is already under pressure.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for bringing up Salman, because he is a fascinating counter example. He shifted his public persona and his onscreen persona around the same time, going from a mostly comedy and romance with a little action guy in the 90s and early 2000s to a mostly action guy with a little comedy and romance. And at the same time he went from being the sweet flirtatious type naughty type, to being serious with Being Human and so on. It’s not that the onscreen and off screen had to necessarily be the same, but the shift in both had to happen at the same time for us to see the changes, or else we would think he was “the same” because he was making the same movies, or was making the same movies because he was acting “the same” in real life.

      That’s what I think Shahrukh is beginning to realize, it’s not enough to start making different movies, he has to start acting aggressively different in public as well or else his movies won’t be appreciated.

      I bet you are right about the reasons he is cautious about shifting from the “harmless” Delhi guy image, but there has to be a middle ground somewhere, some way of naturally shifting his persona in the same way Salman did. Salman is still the boyish slightly naughty type, and back in his younger days we all already knew about his big heart, its just that now the focus is more and more on him as a loving uncle and brother and mature man. Shahrukh should be able to take, for instance, the serious actor part of his persona and the thoughtful philosopher and capitalize on that more and more without creating a threat.

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  5. First of all, and I want to get it out of the way first, confirmation biases work both ways- if you hate him, you’ll find more evidence for your hatred and if you love him, you’ll find more evidence for that too. That’s because the guy is everywhere. Endorsements, social media, endless promotions, KwK sometimes seems to exist purely for him, interviews where nothing new is ever said. It feels like Truman (from The Truman Show) meeting the same people who give him the same expressions every single day. And it’s making people paranoid and annoyed just like that character was.
    In fact, Jim Carrey is a great example of what people mean when they say SRK has stagnated. If I say the words “Jim Carrey”, you’d have a recollection of a very specific set of facial expressions and voice acting and body language that you can identify in a game of dumb charades with total strangers. That’s exactly what’s happened with SRK. The persona bit that you too can identify as being not genuine seems to exist as a “role” with facial expressions, body language and voice modulation designed specifically for it. And this “role” appears over and over again during promotions.
    The SRK “actor” dude appears in all acting jobs including commercials.
    Allow me to share a few pictures. I’ll start with “normal” SRK.
    Normal face
    https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQOnXzIcIVGwkKYdcA-7MaUGwmOkskDAEgiC28WZ0Y5tqr-n_b_3Q
    Normal face
    https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRdUHsQrDInLBYEbKP71VGVorqCUY-0_Cb7Lcn0uInL88RegevK
    Normal face
    https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRbT5oSt-9NSUKYRuEjoUJXG0ebeGetbARZwtAO6qDXgpdbKnAY
    Normal face
    https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRmCXO3GtefFS1P20X96_6KqZ5gSYP-vxk_rBzuLq3Jlu8IY3aIYg
    Normal face
    https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSpw5bsW24pDoFt6E-d_ilo-SvobjcCkUCaU48JyYMSdaG6su3T
    Sort of normal face
    https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcShLbJ0JARLK7iZDv_mfd7wwaIUtH3nzR8m0ja_TVecFHqpKT26
    Now comes the faces with the one hundred extra emotions which are frankly confusing after a point.
    SRK with surplus emotions when he’s “acting”
    https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQe3M8mDCD1x0xozMXwL2lvckZ_BtsEriv2imngZcc_bpD_cNd2
    SRK with surplus emotions when he’s “acting”
    https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSvE8hf7wvOcgoiIzoeRL9c9A2kepgUq1GjCKMoGRfqBBPhRyR2
    SRK with surplus emotions when he’s “acting”
    https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTbK5WpxGEu4M44YWiKZxv2pQIUjlCBjrz_RZ2jDhI5WitdG3PQ
    SRK with surplus emotions when he’s “acting”
    https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRWsmMTdD0V3OenTWEob1VaWYr7pEBGD69k-fqe_r-_Hgi4AL2b
    SRK with surplus emotions when he’s “acting”
    https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRwVvtuqMtiPdt1d3xdpXVhXGhhS0T1Pu18ZcnxAqJwwX4WhYeR
    SRK with surplus emotions when he’s “acting”
    https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcR1nPh99KiHnyEaWqEtlbIfWq71nfD9Fmor9XCSvgdwvxr2cfW8DA
    SRK with surplus emotions when he’s “acting”
    https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTRj06GdiTbtGYez-OC-E9CtNyU2RMakgf4XiuOXg9VKeXT4alXmQ
    As an audience that has the chance to watch him “acting” and when he’s doing the persona during interviews and those little bits captured by the media when he’s actually being a normal person, we can tell the difference between the act and the normal.
    Not only that, the “acting” has remained the same for almost as long as one can remember. I sat through Raees hoping to be sucked into the world of Raees but it was always SRK the actor there. Compare that to Nawaz in the same film who shone so bright I almost forgot he was acting. Of course, SRK is now older and so he isn’t shaking nearly as much now but the facial acting is just the same as the mid 90s. None of his dialogues are ever in a normal voice. Like you watch his interviews and maybe the occasional sound bite and you know what this person sounds like. Nowhere in his films does he ever sound “normal”. He’s always voice acting in his dialogues.
    As an audience, that’s the stagnant bit.
    Let’s compare that to Salman. He has the same problem with the facial acting and body movement and voice acting bits. Except, he has the advantage of having hosted Bigg Boss where he brings the persona as well as Salman the guy who while remaining THE Salman, has conversations with contestants in a normal voice too. So you have a healthy sense of the man and when you go to his films, you see him “acting” and that’s why he gets the hate that he gets. Because people know his expressions and body movement and voice acting by heart now.
    This is where I strongly disagree with your assertion that he “trained” as an actor. Yes he may have. But whatever he learnt there, he never grew out of it. Not all theatre troupes are the same. And just being a part of one doesn’t necessarily make you the best actor. In fact, most theatre actors gravitate towards arthouse films and artistically challenging roles or something offbeat just to test themselves. SRK has played SRK ever since he became SRK. That’s why we’re bored.
    And that’s the thing. We’re bored of SRK and it seems like he’s making no effort to keep us entertained or to surprise us. If this were a romantic relationship, this is the point where we, his partners, would cheat on him or consider that very strongly. And I guess that’s exactly what we’re doing.

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    • Yes, this is what I am saying, if you watch his public appearances and so on, it’s always the same guy and you can tell he is faking. Except for those very brief moments when he isn’t. And it makes people tired because he is always everywhere doing the same thing.

      But we have to agree to disagree about whether he is actually acting, and has always been acting, in his films. I think he is, and I think he is making it impossible for most of the audience to see it because his public appearances are so stale.

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      • I sometimes think back to his old interviews when he looked and talked like a fresh new 90s guy with the slang and the hot attitude and then I see this guy who just looks like he just aged all of a sudden.

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        • Exactly. There must be a way he can act in interviews that is comfortable for him and doesn’t feel so incredibly fake and practiced. He needs to find a new way to be in public.

          On Fri, Mar 23, 2018 at 9:27 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • I feel like what he really needs is just a sounding board. Heck, take a vacation with Karan and spitball image ideas! Because right now he is getting so lost in his old patterns he doesn’t seem to be able to see a way out of them.

            Oh oh! I know what he should do! Practice with AbRam, run through an interview and have AbRam throw peanuts at him every time he says something that isn’t real. Because it’s the kind of stuff even a child can see.

            On Fri, Mar 23, 2018 at 9:40 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Omg please don’t make him have abram around. The super rich person way he talks to that kid is annoying and off-putting!! He will lose the interest of the 99% then and there with the annoying middle class English speaking at home parenting thing!! Not only is THAT trend totally over (sadly, it used to be a thing and I had this pair of sisters as my neighbours growing up in shimla who had the English speaking thing at home and they prided themselves on having to take tutoring for Hindi!! It was annoying as fuck and everyone hated how they never spoke any language perfectly!!) he speaks to the kid like a new money Delhi person would speak to their kids when they have company over!!!

            It’s a part of the larger language problem we see in Bollywood. And he isn’t comfortable enough speaking in English to actually do an English language film. That’s the funniest part!

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          • Oh, I don’t want AbRam actually in the interview, I just want Shahrukh to use him as practice at home. Because it feels like the kind of “Fake” he is now in public is the exact kind of fake that kids see through immediately and make fun of you for.

            On Fri, Mar 23, 2018 at 9:57 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • I would actually want him to an article. I want him to actually sit down and put his thoughts into words. I want him to see the BS coming out of his mouth and how stale that feels.

            Maybe he’s in that space where he’s constantly distracted and doesn’t have the time to properly formulate thoughts. I’ve just had that thing during the move. We had my 6 year old cousin and his toddler brother with us during it and we could hardly think a thought of our own till the kids were around! And I have uncles that do the same kind of attention seeking. It’s exhausting because when they’re around, everything becomes about them and you can’t even think properly because you’re so mentally engaged with them.

            Maybe he feels the same kind of mental engagement from someone in his close circle or maybe it’s just the toddler on his mind a lot so it seems like he isn’t giving my thought to what’s coming out of his mouth.

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    • OMG. Get thee behind me, Asmita and Margaret! I have to go to work, yet what I want to do is click through to every single link Asmita has shared, and then keep commenting on this and the other Shah Rukh’s problem post. Well–it will have to wait til lunch time!

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    • @Asmita, did you ever watch Dus ka Dum, Salman’s first TV show? I ask this because after it started airing, I saw so many comments from people (including some self-confessed Salman haters) say that that they were pleasantly surprised to see the “real Salman”, who was very different from the media projected image of “Salman Khan”, and that they liked him a lot, even though unwittingly. Some felt compelled to say that they still hated his films, but they no longer hated him. I thought it was an interesting reaction, notable because it was so widespread. And this was long before Reshma Shetty came on board, and when his films were still not doing great.

      On a tangential note, why do you think none of SRK’s TV shows succeeded? Was he presenting the same “SRK” brand, and it wasn’t suited to TV? If so, why not? Or is there some other reason his appeal couldn’t catch on for these game shows?

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      • I feel he may be an introvert and that is why he doesn’t thrive in situations that require him to interact with people in a one on one setting where they are on an equal footing with him. I remember his tv show stint. He was so underconfident in that. Literally hands between legs. I remember that because Amitabh had just set the standard for superstars on tv just then.

        Perhaps him not being comfortable talking about his private life or appearing aloof, bored and closed off has more to do with introversion and social anxiety issues.

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        • You think SRK is an introvert? Okay. Why would he need to talk about his private life on a TV game show? Remember, he hosted several, not just KBC.

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          • Introverts aren’t people that hide in closets and only go out at night you know. I’m an introvert and I have days when I can’t even talk to people over the Internet. That’s why I go MIA from here too. Being amongst people is an occupational hazard and it’s not always easy to get up and do that since it goes against your natural instinct. Of course I don’t know him personally so it could be that he could be really boring as a person IRL

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        • Would love a private space to speculate about Shah Rukh’s psychology? I have a couple of dark theories that I’m not comfortable airing in a public space—whether or not anyone who knows SRK in real life ever reads them. 🙂 Preferably an app where all the content deletes after a couple of hours, lol.

          Also–Shah Rukh’s been pretty open about being an introvert. He’ll put headphones on or pretend to be “prepping” a scene so he doesn’t have to talk on set, and will apparently go days without talking much at home sometimes.

          Best distinction I ever heard of introvert vs extrovert is, an extrovert gains energy from being around other people, while an introvert loses energy from being around other people. Introverts can be charming, fun, and interesting in groups–they just need to go be quiet and alone for a while afterward.

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          • And then there are ambiverts!

            Also, maybe you can post on your own WordPress page and delete that after people have read it. Or should I find you on some other social platform? I so want to know your theory!!

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          • I am adding more and more things to my “If I win the lotto and can hire a web designer” list, and one thing I would love is the ability to create a locked invitation only chat room space. Wouldn’t that be cool? Instead of just throwing everything into the comments section?

            On Fri, Mar 23, 2018 at 10:18 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Snapchat, Telegram are self destruct messaging apps. Yep Then there’s the option to create invitation only chatrooms in a site called India forums. It has all kinda security settings.I want to hear your theory too!

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      • There’s been plenty of discussion about my tangential question (SRK), though actually not even that, as my question was why his TV shows didn’t work, and no one is talking about that. Similarly, no one has responded to my main question (on Dus ka Dum). Any takers? (it was in the context of how Salman’s TV show helps to keep his image “real”, as opposed to SRK’s brand seeming “fake” now.)

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        • Remember how wildly popular Shekhar Suman’s game show and talk show was? That’s because the guy provided serious engagement. Amitabh does that. That’s why he ruled KBC. Salman, well Dus Ka Dum was sort of trashy, BUT he found his niche with Bigg Boss.

          I suppose what tv does for Salman is make him look more approachable. We don’t have Oprah and Simi Grewal is no longer doing her show and KwK is too much karan. GQ etc don’t have a wide readership. And social media is too unmanageable.

          Point being, if you want your audience to get a sense of you as a person, you don’t have the soft, controlled environment outlets that Hollywood has.

          Salman, see thet guy has no patience or tameez to not be himself. On Bigg Boss, Salman the big deal is talking to wannabes. That’s still him in his natural environment and so he looks relaxed and we can tell he’s not being fake for the sake of it. He doesn’t do sit down interviews so there’s no baseline for that behaviour for him. Salman sells because he doesn’t sell himself to us.

          So why didn’t SRK’s Tv shows work? Well, who watches tv? Who watches the hindi language programming on the channels that his shows were a part of.

          Part of the reason why KBC worked for Amitabh was because the content was family friendly and man of the house friendly. Men don’t watch women’s serials. So tv either had news or sports or movies during primetime in most households. KBC changed that. Fathers encouraged kids to come watch tv with them. And Amitabh provided the earthy, hindi, middle class superstar persona that didn’t talk down to the middle class man of the house through the tv.

          Same with Salman. Bigg Boss is popular with people of all ages with Bollywood dreams. And so that’s Salman talking to them as an industry big wig through the tv. SRK just couldn’t figure out who he needed to talk to through the Tv. He’s too “english” for middle class hindi speaking women. Too much of an English speaking ladies man for the middle class hindi speaking guy, too old for the kids, and too unapproachable /un-mentoring for aspitants.

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          • Thanks for the reply, Asmita. Since I don’t watch Indian TV (except for the first season of DKD), it’s hard for me to get a perspective. I can’t stand Big Boss as a concept, so I find its popularity, and Salman as host, very mystifying. 🙂

            With KBC, when SRK was hosting it, one discussion on a forum which is now defunct speculated that SRK couldn’t grasp that the show wasn’t all about him, and that most of the contestants (since they were drawn from all over the country) may not even be into Hindi films, let alone being into him as a film star. These were all SRK fans, too, so I thought that was an interesting opinion.

            Your analysis of why SRK’s shows didn’t work is interesting, but unconvincing. All those reasons you give for why different segments of the audience could not be attracted by him sound good, but all those segments ARE attracted to him in his films. So why the difference when it comes to TV? Especially because the secret to success on these game shows seems to be to sell yourself and your personality, and that is all SRK has done throughout his career to gain his popularity. Unless you’re saying that his disconnect with the audience started at the time of his TV shows? I don’t think that’s true, because he was still having big hit movies when these TV shows were on. Now, of course, it is a different matter. How is his TED talks show doing? So I still find this discrepancy between his TV and film audience and success difficult to understand.

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          • Till a few seasons ago, Bigg Boss the show was watchable because the contestants had some class. And celebrities didn’t have social media exposure already. Since you’re not a bollywood aspirant, the popularity of reality shows and Salman’s appeal within the format may be hard to explain to you.

            I don’t think it was that SRK thought the show was about him. He just couldn’t connect to the people on the show and the audience and people watching at home. Or they couldn’t connect to him. Amitabh being replaced by SRK was huge. But SRK being kicked out was bigger. And that’s a huge dent in his PR.

            As for my reasons, well, they didn’t work, did they? Had the audience really connected with and liked SRK the person, he would be retained, won’t he? Heck, he’d have even more shows since he likes to be busy. But the KBC stint came in the middle of a lull in his film career. Meaning, the audience wasn’t really going to watch his films in the theatre either. Else he wouldn’t have to resort to doing TV and suffer the humiliation of being kicked out of that too!

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  6. Fascinating post, and fascinating discussion. I don’t have anything to add in regards to SRK’s “brand”. I get that it’s important, but I’ve never been a fan of anybody because of their brand, and I see movies which look interesting to me based on the trailer, who is in them (as actors, not brands), and who directed them (to a lessor extent).

    I will say that, last year in India, I saw an ad in a magazine which had Shah Rukh, in khakis and a plaid shirt, promoting a home mortgage company. And even to PR-ignorant me, I went–that is just weird. Why on earth would I listen to the owner of Mannat (who famously did not borrow money to pay for it but nearly killed himself doing multiple movies at once) about where to get a mortgage?

    I think that my perspective on this issue is very non-Indian, non-NRI, fan. Which you describe to some extent, Margaret. I watch the promotional stuff around his movies mainly just because it’s more Shah Rukh content–I don’t care if he and his co-stars just repeat the same platitudes with the same facial expressions. I do enjoy those moments when they break character though. I feel for the interviewers who have to do stupid games and quizzes with them because they won’t break character and the interviewers know their audience MUST be bored to death! So, for me the promotions aren’t linked to the movie at all. But I get that it’s not like that for everyone.

    Finally, I judge his movies based on whether I like them or not, that’s it. I read reviews (including here) because I’m interested, and sometimes reviewers (including here) make points about a movie I wouldn’t think of, but I can’t recall a time when a review has subtantially changed my opinion of a movie (Shah Rukh or non-Shah Rukh).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, there is that freeing moment when you realize “I am allowed to read a review and see the problems it points out, and yet not change my feelings about a film.”

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Ah, so much to say, so little time. First, he is honest about being rich and being a superstar. He says it all the time. He is honest about why he sent his children to London: because he wanted them out of the glare (you saw what happened when Suhana went out) AND he has been quite open about the fact that he can do it because he is wealthy. His mother scraped and skimped and sometimes didn’t eat so he could go to a private school; he has spoken about how fortunate he feels to be able to educate his children. It is true that he only admits to being a business mogul on occasion. He has been systematically trolled by radical Hindu party members; flaunting money won’t help that. As to Abram’s birth: surrogacy is a complicated and private thing. I have several friends who have been through it. One of my closest friends had a child through surrogacy and didn’t tell me until they were about to give birth. Abram was very very premature and in the icu for weeks and weeks. He may have had a plan to tell the public much later. If he (god forbid) had died maybe we would have never known. He does not owe us an explanation for that NO MATTER what image he has cultivated. I agree that he is at a transitional moment and is making mistakes with the promotions. What he really aught to be doing is directing but who knows why he isn’t. One of the commentators here, I believe, had some conspiracy theories of how JHMS was blasted before people had walked out of the first show and it was a deliberate campaign. I hope that’s not true. But it does feel that SRK is criticized for things (too young of heroines for example) that no one else is (Akshay).
    As to Salman Khan. He murdered someone while driving drunk. He needed a lot of image revamping. No alleged affair, not being honest about yourself, not actually being middle class tops that. Why he has gotten a buy on that I have no idea.
    Though this isn’t the thread: I agree with you much more about the feminism thing. He is courtly, polite but that can be patronizing and not feminist behavior. He needs really to get much more up to date on that. It probably won’t happen.
    That he spoke at economic conferences is a good thing and maybe signs of a shift. I hope so. I think he is very ambivalent about sharing his children with us. Its a safe conversation, but it is also edited. Why do regular people instagram their food, their dogs, their kids? I think he succumbs to that impulse when it comes to AbRam and you may be right that he should not do any of that and become a more aloof star like Amir. Maybe Amir isn’t really helping him prep for new Salut movie but giving him P.R. tips!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • YAAAY! You’re back!!!! I was just thinking about you and wondering if you were still around. Partly because Zero is supposed to be filming in New York, so you have a responsibility to us, the Blog Community, to stalk SRK.

      The “Brand” question is where I notice the biggest difference between SRK fans and non-fans. Not that we like him more, but that we pay more attention. Someone mentioned a mortgage ad he was in which seemed ridiculous, selling him as a regular guy giving advice about how to buy your first home instead of the movie star we all know he is. You and I might never see that ad, or might see it along with 20 other interviews, and we would be able to see the things he is saying, the ways he is changing. But the message clearly isn’t loud enough, because I keep seeing “fake” written about him every where. I want him to make those honest interviews so loud that they ring from the rooftops and everyone hears.

      But then, it could be fear, if he makes himself that Big, it also makes him into a target. Easier to keep it light and small.

      On Fri, Mar 23, 2018 at 12:57 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  8. I kind of like the “grouchy out of touch dad” thing that he’s been doing a bit lately. It’s age-appropriate, lets his sarcastic/witty side show through, and it’s fairly a-political if done right. I recently sent this to some IRL friends and said, “Here’s Shah Rukh being dad AF”.

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    • Yeah, the Alia promotions were some of his best public appearances in recent years. I think I had in an earlier draft of this post a discussion of that. Because she was so clearly too young for him, for once the promotions weren’t the same old flirty-flirty with a female co-star kind of thing, there was an acknowledgement of him as an experienced mentor type for her, and him feeling fatherly towards her more than anything else. I think she might have even slipped and called him “Shah Sir” at one point, although I might be imagining that. It was a great way to force him to shake things up.

      On Fri, Mar 23, 2018 at 1:06 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  9. Yes. And I’m pretty sure it is not all fake. Is he happy with his kids ALL the time.?NO. Does he never get angry at them?NO. Is he really their dad even though two of them are far away? YES. We ALL lie about out kids. How is your son, your daughter etc? one is asked and the answer is most of the time:” Oh, he/she is doing great.” That’s just how it goes. I loved this interview.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Also SRK doesn’t really even lie when it comes to his kids. There is nothing fake about it. I’ve seen him grumbling often. Recently he did some interview where he mentioned he facetimes Suhana 2-3 times a week but Aryan doesn’t pick up his facetime. Other times he’s mentioned that Aryan is lost in his own world. Other times he’s mentioned that the nanny told him AbRam has been misbehaving and he’s been trying to get him to stop by telling him that he can misbehave with Papa but not with others. Even back in the day, in his documentary, there was a part where he was playing soccer with Aryan and Suhana and a lot of little girls. He stopped to talk about how unfair Aryan plays and that he hates that he wants to cheat just to win and that he’s worried he must be doing this in school too. He was also literally shouting at Aryan to stop bullying the girls or he’ll kick him.
      I don’t buy that he’s fake at all. Just that he chooses not to speak too much about his wealth and power because those are not subjects for polite company anyway. Same goes for things like how women hover around him. What is he even supposed to say about that? He tries to shake it off as if it’s not a big deal.
      His problem is simply overexposure. There is just too much of him everywhere and it’s been that way now for 25 years. I think Salman is similarly overexposed with multiple TV shows and appearances but he’s saved by the fact that he had a lull for almost 10 years so his exhaustion point hasn’t been reached yet. Maybe it also helps that he has no family of his own so there aren’t another 4-5 family members being tracked by the media in his name. SRK is also affiliated with the other big religion in India – sports. So he’s seen even on the sports pages in the newspaper and the sports channels. You can’t escape him. For people who don’t like him then it’s easy to invent more reasons to hate him. I can’t take people seriously that will say he makes the same movies when it’s clearly not true. Even seeing the promos alone will tell you that. It’s just the easy go-to criticism to blather about when you’re looking for something negative to say.

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      • The fake bit is what you get from the 1000000 appearances where he seems to be playing a role even in interviews. Out of those maybe he says something real in 1 or two interviews. It doesn’t really excuse all the other times. And the same exploitative insincerity comes across in his films.

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  10. My Indian moviegoer perspective on unwarranted criticism of SRK is put in the best way by Aamir Khan in Rangeela:
    Apun public hai public…kisiko bhi kuch bhi bol sakta hai…Jispe apna paisa vasool nahi, uska dabba gul…Chahe woh tera pyaara Rajkamal hi kyun na ho.”(I’m the public, I can say whatever I want about anyone. If someone is not worth my money, he’s out- even if it’s your beloved movie star).

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  11. “Ah, so much to say, so little time!” Molly, I agree with you!
    However, so that you know I – at least – read you: As long as I don’t know from ShahRukh personally why he is doing what he does, I just have the option to observe it…I won’t judge. I may have my own feelings, yet what do I know about my feelings being ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. And okay, there are my likes and preferences concerning what he does, only that I simply think that it h i s work and he has to handle it the way h e thinks it may be needed.
    There are just my wishes…that he’s doing the choices that make him happy, that he gets recognition, that his wife and children understand the person he is 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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