Shah Rukh Khan hasn’t starred in a film since 2018’s Zero, which ended up becoming one of his biggest flops. But it also represented the culmination of a new creative spree that began over 10 years ago for him, with the film Ra.One. The actor said back in 2011 that he wants to leave a mark on the film industry, so that when he is gone, future generations can look back and acknowledge his contributions beyond the roles that he has done.
And Shah Rukh had decided that the field in which he wants to bring about change the most is technology. To that end, he produced (and starred in) the superhero adventure Ra.One, and followed it up with similar VFX heavy films such as Fan, and then Zero. None of them were hits. And in that interview with Preity Zinta back in 2011, the actor had predicted the kind of conversations that are happening now, when Bollywood is experiencing a particularly poor phase.
“The industry has given me so much. I feel that when my career ends, I want to leave a mark beyond playing a villain, romancing heroines, and dancing well. I did that for myself. But I want people to look back and think of me when they think about VFX in Indian films. ‘You know that guy Shah Rukh, world famous Aryan’s dad? It was him’,” Shah Rukh said.
He continued, “I want to leave something in this industry which is beyond films, and it takes our films worldwide. I can control the technology, that was one reason I made Ra.One. I’m friends with some of the biggest filmmakers, but they’re quite foolish. They want to make only romantic films. But I want to go ahead and rule the world. Let’s make the kind of film that Indians in London and America and all over the world will proudly tell their friends was made in India, and it’s as good as Spider-Man.”
Shah Rukh said that if the industry doesn’t evolve, people will stop caring. “We should get into this larger-than-life cinema, because if we don’t, the younger generation will stop watching our films. They have access to international films. I think they should have access to our superheroes, we have such great mythologies, such great stories to tell…”
Shah Rukh said this before the streaming age made international content even more easily accessible to audiences, and cheap data ensured that people from across the country are constantly online. And as he had predicted, this is exactly the kind of cinema that is working at the box office now. Big-budget, VFX-driven films that draw from Indian mythology — films like RRR, Brahmastra, Ponniyin Selvan: I, Adipurush — have done very well at the box office, at a time when audiences are becoming more choosy about the kind of movies they will pay to watch in a theatre.
Shah Rukh will next be seen in Pathaan. He will follow it up with Jawan, and then Dunki. This year, he has performed cameos in Rocketry: The Nambi Effect, Brahmastra and Laal Singh Chaddha. And guess what, fans online are now appreciating the visual effects in Ra.One, especially after watching the poor CGI in the recently released Adipurush teaser.