Disclaimer: This article is nothing short of IMHO.
Well, Jab Harry met Sejal is released and the reviews, more than the reviews, memes which described SRK as “once great actor”, break my heart.
But, trust me when I say that I had no hopes for it. Shah Rukh Khan is a superstar who deserves the title for his down-to-earth nature, talents and for being a self-made man, at a time when Bollywood was high on nepotism. *I support the likes of Kangana Ranaut and Manoj Bajpayee on this* SRK’s success proved that talents will win on any platform, beauty and perspective aside. Now, I am conveying all this as a once die hard fan of SRK. I am still a fan, only that there is less fire to fuel.
Plus I know that after writing this, I will be at the mercy of several online fans, no, fanatics, who will troll and being a woman, with an opinion on the internet, is never easy as attacks are not at the rhetoric but the person.
How and why should SRK redeem his film image?
Imtiaz Ali and Yash Chopra are great filmmakers but the lowest points were met with these tycoons. Bollywood is not a fair industry despite bathing in all the fairness creams and whitewashing. Both SRK and Karan Johar admitted in several interviews that business and marketing is prioritized and movies made are targetted on the same. Three powerful production houses Yash Raj, Dharma and UTV have been delivering films on the same topic. Movies like “kick” will work better at the box office over a gem like “masaan”. Films like Dabangg and kick have everything wrong in terms of morality in filmmaking; Misogyny, objectification of women, hyper masculinity, white washing etc. In simple words, a film which glorifies misogyny, racism and conventional stereotypes will make more money when compared to those films which question or defeat the same. Who should be blamed there? The filmmakers or the audience?
Unlike Salman Khan or Ajay Devgan, SRK has been under fire since he released the commercial disaster “Ra.One” in 2011 for his choices and reputation. When you analyze SRK’s filmography, most films are about business and pleasing the audience and not necessarily to impress. Most of his films intend to maintain the steadfast image of ‘SRK-the-star’ rather than ‘SRK-the-talent‘. Today, people laugh when I say that ‘SRK is a talented actor‘. I get harsh replies from ‘spare yourself‘ to ‘he is a box office poison with no talent‘
Why did it go *that* downhill?
Question number one: Is he a talentless actor?
The answer is simple: No!
We have seen that in his earlier performances. I will go on to the extent by saying that SRK is THE most talented out of all those actors from his generation, who came into the spotlight with him; from the likes of Aamir Khan, Kajol, Juhi Chawla, Salman Khan, Ajay Devgan, Deols, Akshay Kumar, Saif Ali Khan etc. SRK has the calibre to have the standard of the likes of Sanjeev Kumar and Dilip Kumar, those icons who are known primarily for their versatility and talents.
Analysing SRK’s great performances (those films that come into your head when asked): Swades, Chak de India, Kal ho na ho, Baazigar, Darr, Paheli, Veer Zaara and My name is Khan. Then, SRK was known to having suave of aura in a film that is generally mediocre. Eg: Baazigar.
Don’t get me wrong… Baazigar is actually an enjoyable film but the major factor that installed its success is undoubtedly Shah Rukh Khan as the anti-hero. Baazigar is the highlight in his career. Darr has everything I hate about storytelling; the damsel in distress, same-stalker-who-follow-women, men who can’t handle rejections and vilification of a person with mental health issues, but I would watch the whole film just to see SRK’s acting. Darr is a “complicated film” which handles a sensitive topic; stalking. Unlike the usual Bollywood standard, where the hero who stalks the heroine, is glorified, Darr handles that facet better due to Rahul (played by SRK) and his complex nature. This has to be credited to SRK and his versatility. There are scenes earlier where he talks casually to Sunil (Sunny Deol) is well performed because he makes you believe that he is just a friendly guy wanting to have a chat. You believe it, in spite of seeing all those moments where he intimidated Kiran (Juhi Chawla). Then in the very next scene, we see the manic delusional guy obsessed with Kiran’s beauty.
He loved Kiran because of her beauty. Although SRK is criticised for his overacting, he had the prowess to make it look impressive. When he runs out into the woods and scream with frustration, there is a moment where Sunil (who plays mouth organ) and Rahul exchange glances. Rahul looks at him ruefully, as if he doesn’t regret anything yet he is excited for what he might do. A guy who overacted his heart out moments ago made those few seconds really intriguing. To SRK’s credit.
Kal ho na ho is often categorised under “typical film” category but to me, the film reinforced my likeness to SRK. To him, Aman Mathur is a flexible role. Despite his nagging, tempered and dominating nature, we will still love just for being himself. I still cry when I watch the climax of the film.
Veer Zaara and Swades were those that gave SRK the opportunity to downgrade and upgrade. Veer became multi-dimensional person based on his age and circumstances. Assuming that make-up is involved in that regard, take a look at Paheli.
Kishan we see earlier in the film is completely different from the “ghost”. There is no change in make-up or costumes. SRK did that with his mannerisms and expressions. Chak de India is undoubtedly the film in his list that actually did justice to his talents. As a Muslim man who was branded by the media as a traitor, Kabir Khan sets out to look for redemption. He has a powerful presence throughout the film and makes you believe the same.
The first step downwards was 2011 film Ra One. I watched Ra-One from the theatre and was super excited about SRK’s role as a superhero in the most expensive film (at that time) in 3D. The film is mediocre not just in terms of plotline but SRK did his role in overacting and under acting. The film was a huge commercial failure. Then Don 2 came. Personally, I didn’t like Don as it was a ludicrous remake of 1978 classic starring Amitabh Bachchan. SRK delivered a good performance, as an actor he did justice to the role, but the film is boring per se. The downward spiral with Jab tak hai jaan, Chennai Express, Happy new year, Dilwale, Fan, and the latest Jab Harry met Sejal began there.
The fire was still alive in me and it died with 2012 film Jab Tak Hai Jaan, just because I had too many expectations on the film, from being Yash Chopra romance, SRK’s dual image, the intensity and tribute. But nope, the film was too lame and will make you *sigh*. Above all, he lacked chemistry with Katrina Kaif. And, an actress with calibre was needed for a role like Meera but the filmmakers went for an actress who could be objectified better.
Chennai Express (2013) is nothing more of a macho man film targetted on the audience who enjoys comedy and action. He plays the parody version of his own cult characters from Baazigar to My name is Khan. That is where I *facepalmed*. Added to that, the film is about a man rescuing a damsel in distress and the final fight scene where he fights hard to impress a woman he just happens to love. I believed the reviews of Happy New Year and Dilwale is another “parody” film he happens to be part of. To make things worse, Kajol had to endure her share of negative criticism as we were all looking forward to another SRK-Kajol classic. The trailer of Fan gave me a sense of hope but it is a film featuring his narcissism or a version of SRK’s image that we don’t want to see.
I guess the reason why critics are harsh at SRK is that of the overall expectations on him. People still go to the theatre to watch him on screen. People still look forward another classic like the ones he delivered pre-Ra.One era. Being the most talented and humble, out of those from his generation, there are fans who are still counting on him with high hopes. Now, with Jab Harry met Sejal, SRK’s image is hanging on a ledge and eventually, people expecting, I stopped along with my disappointing experience with Jab Tak Hai Jaan and Fan.
I read in an interview that he didn’t care about negative criticisms and wanted to make only commercial films. He even made fun of a journalist who asked him “when are you going to make good movies? Better movies?”, to which he replied, “when will you ask me better questions?”.
Please give people that opportunity SRK 🙁
WHAT HE SHOULD DO…
This is again IMHO
He should quit doing colourful “white” romantic heroes. That doesn’t mean that he should completely avoid it. SRK was once the king of romance and he should maintain that image by keeping the authenticity of his previous characters. That is being ruined with parodied versions like how it is shown in Om Shanti Om, Rab De Bana Di Jodi and Chennai express. He could do romantic characters, in a different, unlike the singy-songy “woman running in saree and man hugging her“. Let’s look at the Hollywood counterparts, Leonardo Dicaprio for eg:. I don’t think people will be impressed with another Jack Dawson like character (unless they are condescending super fans). However, the last few films made his status as a natural talent rigid; revenant, the wolf of the Wallstreet, Django Unchained, Shutter Island and Inception. Tom Hanks will look less impressive if he paired next to a woman half his age and do a love story. But he played powerful characters like Captain Phillips and Robert Langdon. That’s what SRK should do. Be as real yet powerful enough to exploit his calibre. Doing a film like Jab Tak Hai Jaan is a major drawback in his career. The film paid no heed to proper storytelling and tried to glorify a very selfish Meera (played Katrina Kaif) as a sweet and adoring individual. She is not! And… he did a lip kissing scene. *sigh*
Another thing he should do is QUIT acting with younger actresses.
Maybe it did work for a while as the target audience is college going male who want to see eye-candies but this kind of pairing is almost as bad and hypocritical as nepotism and whitewashing. SRK lacked chemistry with Anushka Sharma, Katrina Kaif and when I heard that he was being paired next to Alia Bhatt, I was flabbergasted. But they were not a pair in Dear Zindagi. Aamir Khan has better film choices, though he met a huge low with Dhoom 3, he played a 60-year-old father of four in Dangal and it worked great for him. Personally, Rab ne bana di jodi didn’t meet my expectations but we could argue that the pairing of SRK and Anushka worked in this film because as per the film’s narration they are not supposed to have chemistry. Suri is a plain uninteresting guy in his late thirties so Taani is basically yet another “not-that-great-looking” girl who wants to have a “masti” life. Anushka’s performance in the film worked well enough to establish the same. But, when I watched the teaser of Jab Harry met Sejal, along with repetition, I keep seeing all those memes which associated SRK-Anushka pairing with the father-daughter combo.
So, I just hope that the next work of SRK’s will be a film that we could look forward to as opposed to the memes we will end up seeing.