Millions of us look up in the night sky to gaze at the stars and often, they make us feel small against the infinite universe. Watching them from a distance, we are enthralled by their unique place where everybody can see them. Film stars have a similar quality about them. You look at them from afar, think of the infinite opportunities they have, the power they exude as the world looks at every move they make and most importantly, the unique place they hold in our universe.
While earlier the honoured word ‘star’ was used only for a selected few, it is now thrown around like confetti. There were only a few who gained this title when it actually meant something. In this list of greats, whose names are synonymous with Bollywood throughout the world, is the name of Shah Rukh Khan.
Shah Rukh Khan’s road to stardom
Shah Rukh Khan had been around the block for a while and was starting to carve a space for himself but the film that changed his life is, undeniably, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge. In Karan Johar’s book An Unsuitable Boy, he talks about Aditya Chopra’s understanding of the NRI lifestyle and the way DDLJ was designed to appeal to that audience. Capturing the attention of the overseas audience was still virgin territory back then but with DDLJ’s global appeal and success, Shah Rukh got a much bigger stage.
One film does not make a star
Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge was just a take-off point for SRK. Soon after the success of DDLJ, there was a massive shift in the way Shah Rukh was perceived. Though he worked in films like Ram Jaane, Trimurti, Koyla among others, none of them had a huge impact on the audience.
SRK was liked in his pre-DDLJ days but post-DDLJ, he was loved
The lover boy image that we now associate with SRK rose from DDLJ but registered because soon after we saw him in films like Pardes, Yes Boss and Dil To Pagal Hai. With Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and Mohabbatein, this image was locked and loaded. By this time, Shah Rukh Khan was a bonafide superstar whose name was now in the same league as Dilip Kumar and Amitabh Bachchan.
It was probably this lover boy image that affected films like Baadshah, Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani and Asoka. Baadshah became quite popular in the later years, thanks to satellite television but the others never picked up quite as much.
The sustenance of stardom
A huge part of being a star is the unexplained magic that creates an aura of mystique around the celebrity. This aura has a certain sense of glamour, power, authority and godliness that lifts them up to a pedestal and this is perhaps what makes them a star.
Shah Rukh Khan has maintained star power for over two decades now and even when he does films like Ra. One, Raees and Fan, the star power doesn’t diminish. Clearly, star power has nothing to do with the movies he does because had that been the case, the illusion would have shattered a long time ago.
What helps him sustain his stardom is his personality and not the craft that he displays on the silver screen.
What happens next?
Shah Rukh Khan turns 53 today and one day his era of superstardom will come to an end. Not just SRK, many other superstars will also witness a decline in their star power. The direct way to approach celebrities is now so easy that the mystique factor has simply disappeared with younger actors.
In the case of Shah Rukh Khan, he will always be the actor who rose from nothing and achieved it all but he will also be the ‘star’ who kept us all spellbound.