We received a huge response to a guest blog post we put up on Koimoi.com on December 15. The post, which spoke about the PR activities of Bollywood stars, including Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan, received a lot of comments, both positive and negative, on the website as well as across the social media. At Koimoi.com, we believe in giving space to different, even divisive, views on Bollywood stars and their films. Hence this next guest blog post, an insightful and opinionated rebuttal by a reader. Read on…
Over the past year, I have noticed that the negativity towards Shah Rukh Khan has increased exponentially. From the way he promotes films to the way he conducts his personal matters have all come under intense scrutiny. I do not know the reason behind this but I have some opinions of my own to share with you all.
I recently read a blog post on Koimoi.com titled From Loving Shah Rukh Khan To Liking Salman Khan which I found to be rather shocking as it was supposedly written by a “self-confessed die-hard Shah Rukh Khan fan.” The post claimed that a normal bike ride with Suhana, Shah Rukh Khan’s daughter, was an orchestrated publicity stunt. This was also exaggerated by the media but I believe that this claim is baseless and completely ludicrous. It was just a bike ride with his daughter. Even a ‘brand’ like Shah Rukh Khan has the right to have a fun moment with his family. Riding a bike in Mannat’s parking area probably is not all that exhilarating as roaming the streets of Mumbai. People jump to conclusions too early without analysing something and tend to look into everything more than they should. At the end of the day, Shah Rukh Khan is just a human being like all of us and is entitled to the same activities we derive pleasure out of. Being accompanied by bodyguards is necessary for his and Suhana’s protection. The media always follows stars so it’s nothing new that photos of the bike ride were taken.
Moving onto the promotion of Shah Rukh’s films, the only thing I have to say it that the way he promoted Ra.One and Don 2 is completely justified. Ra.One was a new concept that needed to be introduced to the public and that is exactly what Shah Rukh did. Whatever people might think, Ra.One was India’s first true superhero film. Drona and Krrish, the two previous attempts, lacked world-class special effects and in my opinion had worse plots. Robot is mistakenly categorised as a superhero film by much of the public when it was basically an adaptation of EPICAC, a short story by Kurt Vonnegut from Welcome to the Monkey House, in which a robot falls in love with a human.
Moving to Don 2, people are saying that the promotions are not at the level of Ra.One and that Shah Rukh Khan has “learned his lesson”. Don is already an established franchise that was started off by Amitabh Bachchan and continued by Farhan Akthar and Shah Rukh Khan. It is not a new concept and people are already aware who Don is, what happened at the end of the 2006 remake, and probably what to expect from Don 2. All-out promotions are not needed for this type of a film as it already is present in the collective memory of the populace.
Promotions are important and the fact that you stay in the public eye when doing something new is vital. All of this has been done in Hollywood for ages. Why do we have a problem with it? The author of ‘From Loving Shah Rukh Khan To Liking Salman Khan’ also stated that the mantra for promotion these days seems to be “cheap controversies” leading to “great TRPs.” Firstly, I do not know if that was only meant for Veena Malik’s recent FHM debacle or Shah Rukh’s bike ride, or both, but the fact is that being in the media eye does lead to more people watching your show. Mark my word, Veena Ka Vivah, the new show where she tries to find a husband, will benefit from all this controversy.
Lastly, everything cannot be a rage like Kolaveri Di. Promotions are essential to a film and comparing Kolaveri Di to the promotion techniques of others is wrong and does not take into account the countless factors that lead to success for different types of films, genres, and types of products.
Also, Shah Rukh Khan and his team have the right to promote films the way they deem fit. I am sure various promotional strategies were discussed for both, Ra.One and Don 2. In my opinion, they were right in the way they carried it out. The fact that the buzz levels for Don 2 and Ra.One are similar when one week before their release is a testament to that.
Coming back to Shah Rukh Khan and the Salman Khan clash, I would like to add that Shah Rukh Khan is himself, and he always has been so. Being talked about in the media, giving interviews, having photos taken, brings him closer to his fans and I consider it a blessing. I feel that his humanity, his intellect, his wit, his being, shines through because of this. Shah Rukh is a person who has been in the spotlight for many years now and his personality is exactly the same when I look at his videos from ten years ago. The only difference is that he has grown over the years as an actor, businessman and human, and sure knows what he’s doing more than what a blogger or two might say. Sure, he has made mistakes many times, but I do not think that this controversy over promoting films is one of them.
I do not believe that he is manipulating people as the author of the other blog suggests. He is just showing us who he is. If we like it, then great, if we don’t, then it’s shouldn’t be a problem. He says what he wants to say and does what he wants to do. If that’s not being true to himself, then I do not know what is.
It would be sacrilegious of me to end this post without speaking about Salman Khan, Shah Rukh’s friend-turned-foe and apparent arch rival. I live in Washington DC where Bollywood films hardly ever play. I was recently introduced to the new generation of Bollywood films and have not seen much of the work by Salman Khan but did get a chance to catch his latest release, Bodyguard (Note: The line was changed as per the author’s request). The only other things I’ve heard about Salman are that he is the “bad boy” of Bollywood and is involved in a considerable amount of legal problems. I do not feel comfortable commenting on Salman as I do not know as much about him nor have I seen many of his films. He might be a favorite in India but he certainly isn’t mine. I have seen Bodyguard and thought it was not a great piece of work. That is my opinion but people in India apparently loved the movie.
This period of intense hatred (I don’t know what else to call it) will pass and Shah Rukh Khan will emerge victorious in the end. This will happen because Shah Rukh Khan has a great personality, is true to himself, and has great on-screen presence. Don 2 will be the start of that followed by his next venture with Yash Chopra.
I would also like to warn all fans of other actors who bash people who like Shah Rukh Khan on Twitter, Facebook and other forms of social media. The fact that you go all out to insult an individual you have never met and claim to know rather well will only result in a backlash towards your favorite actor. I have gotten such messages on Twitter and it only makes me hate the star you worship more than the person sending the messages. I am correct in saying this because recently the number of groups making fun of Salman Khan’s upcoming project have increased ten-fold on Facebook. As the saying goes, what goes around comes around, so you better be prepared for what’s coming your way. I would advise everyone to debate the actor’s body of work than their personal lives and stop making homophobic and racist comments against these individuals as seems to be the norm these days on social networks.
Asher Madan is a medical student in Washington DC. He is also a fan of Shah Rukh Khan and blogs about Bollywood and the latest films often on his Google Blog. You can reach him via Twitter at @ashermadan.