At the start of every year, I mark November 2 in my diary as the ‘mother of all press conferences’ day. Simply because when Shah Rukh Khan invites the media to celebrate his birthday, all roads, PCR and OB vans only lead to Mannat, his sea-facing palace in Bandra where his legion of fans start gathering a day in advance to book their spots and catch a glimpse of the superstar in flesh and blood. Alas! All that will be sorely missed today for SRK has decided to ring in his 51st birthday in the scenic Alibag with family and close friends. Why has SRK given his usual birthday ritual with media at Mannat a skip, you may ask.
There is no official word yet but speculations are rife that the actor apparently decided against holding the meet to steer clear of Raees related controversies. The actor unwittingly found himself at the receiving end of an unwanted controversy on his 50th birthday after his statements on intolerance were blown out of proportion. SRK till date holds that slight grudge against media and prefers to now remain mum on matters that he knows would create smoke and fire. Earlier this year, on Eid, the star politely declined to answer questions about terrorism when asked about it at the press meet at Mannat. However, it will be wrong to assume that the controversy surrounding Raees is the sole reason that forced the actor to keep the media at bay. For given SRK’s legendary speaking skills, we are sure he could have fended off every Raees bouncer well.
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While there is still hope for fans as SRK may make it back in time to greet them with his signature ‘let the fallen rise’ pose; for the media the absence of a presser with the DDLJ actor on his birthday is akin to an important event missed. Why? Let me enumerate the reasons starting with the order of its importance
A chance missed to end your year with SRK’s great stories and quotable quotes
As journalists, we are on the look out for new stories, new angles, new headlines and all those are available in plenty at a Shah Rukh Khan press conference. For starters, unlike a film event, a birthday press meet runs for a good 30 to 45 minutes or even an hour and provides you the chance to quiz Khan on almost anything under the sun without your question being labeled out-of-context. And expect him to answer your question with as much seriousness as you intend him to. On his 50th birthday last year, I had asked him if he had thought about opening an acting school and the actor confessed candidly that he rues the lack of good acting schools in India and would love to remedy the same by starting an acting school that would be at par with international standards. “My daughter wants to learn acting and I don’t know where to send her in India. So, I would love to have a school where kids can come, learn and understand from international actors what acting and the technique of acting is about,” said SRK. Another veteran journalist quizzed him on surrogacy and his take on the laws relating to the same and Khan was more than happy to answer it.
That’s the serious SRK talking. Now sample his wit. At one of his earlier birthday meets some years back when yours truly asked SRK if it’s just a coincidence that a lot of people in his team including his celeb manager and his then publicists were Scorpios by birth like him, the superstar quipped, “Oh yeah. Be a bit scared of us for we will sting.” Another scribe quizzed him about touching 50 and yet playing the quintessential young romantic hero and how he managed to look so fit even at 50. “Darling, your second question is my answer to your first question,” chuckled SRK.
A chance missed hearing SRK grow nostalgic
Every year, SRK takes a trip down the memory lane regaling the media with tales from his childhood days, anecdotes revolving around his late parents and then girlfriend now wife Gauri Khan.
A chance missed to hand-deliver gifts to Shah Rukh Khan
When you are out celebrating a birthday — be it one of your friend or a superstar, you sure want to shower him with gifts. And what would you gift a man who has all the material comforts of this world? While many get bouquets for SRK, there are those who bring along something special. A scribe had once gifted SRK a beautiful sweater handwoven by his (scribe’s) mother.
A chance missed framing a perfect selfie with SRK
What’s a birthday today without any selfies to show with the birthday boy. November 2 gives ample opportunities to click innumerable pictures with the affable Khan who obliges every request indulgently.
A chance missed savouring a lavish feast
Okay, this doesn’t figure on anyone’s agenda while attending SRK’s birthday press conferences but the truth is SRK is a great host and sure knows how to take care of his guests. The media is treated to sumptuous delicacies and the actor asks his staff to ensure every media member has had his or her fill before leaving.
Happy birthday Shah Rukh Khan
As he grows 51 years old today, SRK still undoubtedly remains the King regardless of the growing box-office stature of his other Bandra neighbour — Salman Khan and may I add Akshay Kumar. But then SRK’s success is not just rooted to the films he does. For who would have thought that a floppy-haired slim middle-class Delhi actor would one day own a cricket team, build a successful production house, a state-of-art animation studio, jet-set the world in charter flights, charm corporate chieftains and powerful Sheikhs. And if there is one thing that SRK has stayed true to, it is his passion to be a winner at all times. As aptly as he says in Happy New Year — There are two kinds of people, winners and losers — SRK knows the world worships only winners and he works harder than most to remain one. Happy 51 SRK.