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Revealing the King and the Khan

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Book ends Anupama Chopra has successfully sought to contextualise Shah Rukh Khan’s growth with the changing face of Hindi cinema
Book ends Anupama Chopra has successfully sought to contextualise Shah Rukh Khan’s growth with the changing face of Hindi cinema

A new book on Shah Rukh Khan has many interesting facts on the actor

It is a perfect book. It begins with acknowledgements, presents a cast of characters in order of appearance, and towards the end, details the sources, chapter-wise references, and an index.

But, for some reason, “King of Bollywood: The Making of Shah Rukh Khan and the Seductive World of Indian Cinema” does not provide a filmography. And although it starts in the conventional style of a biography, it soon turns into a perspective.

Personification

Anupama Chopra has successfully sought to contextualise Shah Rukh Khan’s growth with the changing face of Hindi cinema (and not ‘Indian cinema’ as the title suggests): “Just as Vijay (Amitabh Bachchan) embodied the angst of 1970s, Raj (Shah Rukh Khan) resonated with the aspirations of the post-liberalisation 1990s. Shah Rukh became the personification of the collective ideals and longings of a country undergoing social upheavals.”

Shah Rukh first worked in a serial called “Fauji”, in Delhi, before moving to Mumbai to work in three more — “Ummeed”, “Wagle Ki Duniya”, and “Circus”. His first film role was in “The Idiot” by the art house director Mani Kaul, though he had technically done a bit role with Arundhati Roy in Pradip Kishen’s “In Which Annie Gives It Those Ones”. Then came the semi-commercial “Maya Memsaab”, the making of which resulted in his first infamous angry brush with a Cine Blitz reporter, which landed him at a police station.

His first commercial release was “Deewana” though the first taste of success came with Yash Chopra’s“Darr”after which he has never looked back, though he has had his “fall from grace” moments from time to time.

The most interesting part of Anupama’s book, published by Warner Books, New York, and distributed in India by Om Books International, is that she tells the story from a human angle, and has not shied away from presenting the negative side of Shah Rukh Khan’s persona.

She talks about his insecurities, his possessive temperament, his volatile temper, his insomnia. She does from time to time falter with dates and facts.

Not delusional

By way of conclusion, she writes “Shah Rukh Khan had endured both tremendous personal tragedy and overwhelming professional success, and the extremes of this experience gave him the wisdom to stay grounded even as he was venerated and serenaded around the world. Shah Rukh did not, in the old-fashioned way of superstars, become a delusional megalomaniac.”

SURESH KOHLI

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