Another little Shahrukh story! Personal to me, nothing to do with anyone else, but I like putting in these little stories and building a vision of my almost 15 years of fandom.
I have two big Shahrukh posters in my apartment, one respectable one of DDLJ in my living room and one embarrassing one of Dard-E-Disco in my bathroom. In a way they are the two sides of my fandom, the respectable side I show most people, the one that honestly believes Shahrukh is a talented actor who was in several remarkable movies, the one that likes analyzing his life and his performances as a continuing experience. And then the other side that just loves him, the side I keep a little farther back from the world.
When I moved into my current apartment, the first time I had an actual bedroom, I considered moving the Dard-E-Disco poster into the bedroom. Keeping it entirely private and hidden away, just for me. But no, that didn’t feel right.
I keep it in the bathroom because it may not be the first thing I tell people about myself, I may not want to flaunt it in my front room, but I am also not ashamed of it, I won’t hide it away in the bedroom. It’s there, if you want to look for it, I will show it to you.
That’s how I feel about my fandom. If I went out into the world only talking in academic language, analyzing films and performances, discussing deeper social themes of artistic work and so on, that would not be entirely honest. I keep doing this work because I believe it matters, because I believe that the message Shahrukh gives the world through his public persona and through his films is important. But that’s not why I started this work. I started this work because I fell in love with him, and I am still in love with him.
The DDLJ poster and the Dard-E-Disco poster aren’t the only ones I have in my apartment. In my kitchen, I have a random collection of little half size posters that a friend gave me, K3G and Chak De India and Dil To Pagal Hai. And I have a massive wall hanging of Veer-Zaara that the same friend gave me. In the living room, I have cheaply framed half size posters hanging on the wall, including Chalte Chalte and Josh.
In the dining room, I have the tiny framed photo of Shahrukh my father gave me for Christmas half as a joke when I was in college. On a bookshelf I have the little heart magnet a friend made me with Shahrukh’s face in it (the magnet fell off, which is why it is on the bookshelf instead of the fridge). And I have the big ornament with little postage stamp images of his face that the same friend made for me sitting next to it on the shelf.
In the old apartment, when everything was in one room, I used to give new guests the challenge of finding all 6 pictures of Shahrukh (back then I didn’t have space for the other posters, just DDLJ and Dard-E-Disco and the ornament and magnet and framed little photo, and the wall hanging was blocking out the windows in the kitchen). I don’t do that any more. I don’t think of my Shahrukh images as standing out from the rest of my home, I think of them as woven into it.
That’s the same way I am about my fandom now, part of growing up and growing older, integrating my whole self together instead of trying to separate it out in tidy containers. I got my first Shahrukh photo from my father for Christmas 13 years ago. That same year, I went to Budapest to visit my sister on her study abroad and bought a wooden painted pencil. Now both the photo and the pencil are on a shelf together, both part of my past.
I have my beautiful framed DDLJ poster, and I also have my beautiful framed Bahubali swords. They were both gifts from my sister, the framing is partly to honor the object itself, and to honor how well my sister knows me to understand exactly what I would want. I got them 11 years apart, one for my 21st birthday and one for my 32nd, but time condenses as you get older and I don’t see a difference between the two any more. They were both birthday gifts and they are both things I love and that’s all that matters.
When I think about Shahrukh in my life, that is how it is now. I can’t measure it like “I’ve seen this many movies” or “he is my favorite actor” or “I have 6 pictures of him up in my apartment”. It would be like asking me to measure or prove my identity as an American, or a feminist, or how much I love my family. It’s something that has become part of my bones now, always there deep inside. I grew up with him for the past 14 years and he grew into me.
In the bathroom, I have the Dard-E-Disco poster. I am not ashamed of it, and if people ask I will tell them what it is. But I don’t have it out in the public areas to force you to ask about it, it is something that is a part of myself that exists for myself, not for your amusement.
I have one other thing on the wall in the bathroom, a calendar page in a cheap plastic frame. It’s the page of the calendar from the month I was born, my grandmother saved it and gave it to my parents a few days after I was born. It’s in a cheap frame because that is what my parents had available to quickly put it up in the wall in my nursery. It was in my bedroom as long as I can remember, but it used to scare me, the bird picture took on a strange shape when the lights went out. I put it in a corner where I couldn’t see it. I left it at home when I moved to the dorms, I left a lot of stuff at home then, I was 18 and I wanted to present a cool picture to the world. But I brought it back for my first apartment and I put it in the bathroom so it wouldn’t scare me at night. It’s the first thing I hang up every time I move, and Dard-E-Disco is the second.
That is what Shahrukh is to me now, there is my whole first 19 years of life in a little cheesy framed calendar image, and then there is the past 14 years of my life in a cheesy poster of a shirtless man. And if people ask me, I will tell them that. I won’t hide it away in my bedroom like I am ashamed of who I am and who I was. But I won’t put it out in the living room either, because it is not there to be a conversation piece, to be the face I show the world, it is part of my real true deep inside self, the part that grew up inside my head and inside my soul for the past 14 years, all the experiences and memories and emotions that make me, me.