A young mother, in her early twenties, with her four year-old draped around her waist, soldiered through an ocean of exasperating crowd, to finally see the man she had romanced in her own clandestine way. A glimpse of him and she would rush back to her husband, but before she could take in the majestic sight that stood in front of her, the toddler in her lap cried out with all the strength afforded by her puny stature – “I love you, Shah Rukh.”
“I love you too, sweetheart.” He responded instantaneously, almost rendering the young mother motionless for she mistook herself to be the fortunate addressee of her secret beloved’s consent, but it wasn’t long before she realized that Shah Rukh had returned her child’s declaration of love, not acknowledged her stealth. The mother, in that segmented trice turned into the ‘other women’ as her heart inundated in detestation for her own child. No, I’m not making this up, for my mother herself confessed this years later and we shared a hearty laugh over it till our eyes teared up. History repeats itself and so it did when I found my 6 year old niece approaching me with a Henna cone so I could paint on her little pink palms – Shah Rukh Khan. This transcendental magic is what the Badshah of Bollywood was born with, a mysticism that enchants women across three generations and even more – who can possibly tell?
It’s been 25 years of Shah Rukh Khan’s unchallenged Bollywood glory, succession of winning hearts, and conquering box office collections; in the expanse of these years he has silently transformed himself into the ultimate definition of romance Indians today identify with. We condone even when he goes on with his trail of stealing women, one after another, from different men – be it Deewana, Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayege, Koyela, Chalte Chalte, Pardes or Kuch Kuch Hota Hai – if its Shah Rukh the heroine better leave that loser and come on board with our man, there’s no other way India wants it.
These twenty-five years, however, have not been a cakewalk for the actor. In an industry notorious for its “nepotism” Shah Rukh Khan was faced with numerous hurdles, but he was not the one to succumb, he was to surmount. Despite delivering blockbuster succeeded and preceded by blockbusters, there continue to be critics who repeatedly question his talent – no matter how soaring his success proves to be, it’s never enough to shut down those who had sworn to write him off. All they await is one film that won’t meet the unreal expectations set by his ardent followers, and the tongues wag out to write him off. What they fail to fathom is, at this point SRK is way above the gamble of Hit and Flop. I remember how, following Kaho Na Pyar Hai’s success the media went into a crazy Hrithik frenzy, asserting that the promising debutant would dethrone King Khan? 17 years since KNPH – if anything, SRK’s reign has only perpetuated towards an eternal attainment. We are grateful to him for hand-holding actresses like Deepika Padukone and Anushka Sharma and obliged for producing pure entertainers like Happy New Year and Chennai Express – so what if these were of debatable wit – did we enjoy them or not?
Though we keep them aside when it comes to cricket and movies, we can’t deny that ours is a country divided by umpteen diversities. It was, thus, heartbreaking to see a couple of self-proclaimed propagandists targeting the celebrated actor on his religious grounds; equally hilarious when Hafiz Saeed invited the Rayees star to move to Pakistan for good. Nah! That’s not happening, for the 1.3 billion people in India weep when Devdas cries, cheer for Kabir Khan’s victory, take lessons of love from Raj Aryan Malhorta, and fancy a lover named Rahul. An Indian movie goer doesn’t recognize him as a Hindu or a Muslim, to us Shah Rukh Khan is a religion in himself – one that is vastly followed and deeply revered.
But King Khan’s fame isn’t confined to the geographic boundaries of India. Google responds with his name when asked who the biggest movie star in the world is. Factually, Shah Rukh Khan’s second biggest fanbase is in Germany. In fact the German women are giving some tough competition to us desi women claiming that they love the actor the most – Yeah right! You ladies are cute, but don’t even think about challenging us. Shah Rukh Khan is ours, forever.