April 30, 2008

The King & I (no, not the movie)

You- known popularly as Badshah Khan, SRK and the like, and I go way back.

I remember being 10, and falling in love with you during your TV show, "Fauji"- I know you were aping Tom Cruise and the show was aping "Top Gun," but I didn’t care- you had energy, you were the coolest being on TV- my entire set of friends wanted to become fighter pilots after having watched you! I even sat through the very boring "Circus," just watching the parts when you walked on to the screen.

Some more time passed. You got into movies, some of which were forgettable, but what are a few clunkers between friends? You blew me away with your palpable passion in “Deewana” and “Maya.” You killed and bled in “Baazigar” and “Darr,” but that was OK- you were preferable to all the dumb heroes out there, winning the girl- phooey on that- you died fighting, and we loved that. I should have become suspicious when you did "Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa," but I gave you the benefit of doubt on that one.

Then came “DDLJ,” and I recall watching that about a year after its release- in retrospect, I think that was when the rift arose between us. I should point out that due to the huge success of the movie, it was still playing in a theatre at the time- you were amazing, and as passionate as always, though the way the aunties cooed at you in the theatre was beginning to make me barf. Also, lack of real violence was scaring me a bit.

Some more movies later, “Dil to Pagal Hai” added to the feeling of nausea- I couldn’t find you amidst all the love, cooing aunties and pink hearts. I heard about you time and again: “Kuch Kuch Hota Hai”- yikes- the Fauji was now a dad in bright 90s colors sans any blood? “Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gum”- more fatherhood- and you had begun to wear dupattas when singing family-style songs- now I like dupattas too- but I am a girl!!! Whats with the chunnis and shawls???

And your mannerisms were changing- you had become sweet- and I was beginning to feel diabetic. While you shifted focus somewhat with “Main Hoon Na,” and “Swades,”- I was still suspicious of your motivations- “Veer Zaara,” had me shivering in a cold sweat. I now realize that I lacked the faith- but I am bound to be suspicious what with all the swirling dupattas, tears and eye-brow raisings floating all around me.

Then came the dubious “KANK,”- and you were trying to be both romantic and unlikeable at the same time!!! Whats a girl to do? I was confused, lost- what were you trying to convey here?

But then I met some blogger friends, who love you, which influenced me, no doubt. And then you brought in “Don,” “Chak De” and Om Shanti Om”- which helped, and I figured I could take a chance on you again, and we could see more of each other. You also did great song cameos in “I See You,” and “ Kaal,” and I began to look forward to seeing you again- the movies themselves were another matter.

Its been almost 20 years since we first met, and we have both matured- for the better as well as for the worse. I admire your business sense, and the fact that you rose from nothingness to becoming one of the most influential personalities worldwide. I do love you a bit again, and therefore I will be honest and admit that while I am not looking forward to either “… Mrs. Khanna,” or “Rab Ne..,” I am looking forward to seeing more of you- inspite of you and me.


Bollyviewer said...

This sounds truly heartfelt! But you dont mention his off-film presence (interviews, talk shows, KBC, etc.) which also contributes to his legend. Personally I find him a lot better when he plays himself rather than any of his filmy persona.

Bollywood said...
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Shweta Mehrotra Gahlawat said...

Bollyfan: Blame it on my (then) irresponsible youth- Circus bored me to tears, except the bits when S. came on screen :) Maybe should grab a video and broaden my horizons :)

Bollyviewer: I wasnt aiming for more than "goofy," so "heartfellt" is a huge compliment- thanks! Never saw KBC (yep, its true)- didnt subscribe to Indian TV then (I do now, and have even seen 1/2 of his "smarter than a 5th grader" indian show), + that was my worst srk period- never saw anything he did for years, except for fleeting glimpses on tv.

Bollywood said...
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veracious said...

Oh this was awesome! It must've been so weird to see a guy go from villain/dubious roles to fluffy fluffy romance. Such a different perspective from so many people's, who discovered the fluffy romantic films first. :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for explaining your relationship with SRK. I enjoyed it very much. I think SRK spits up blood better than anyone (Darr, Devdas, Koyla to name a few) and this blood spitting image may serve you since you seem to have an ambigious relationship with him. So envisioning him spitting up blood captures both his acting ability, but also allows you to visually enjoy watching him in pain, right? When I read "King of Bollywood" I think I recall SRK's dad's death involving a sickness where he spits up blood, making me think that maybe these blood spitting scenes are difficult for SRK.

here's my little GoodReads write up:

Al the best,

Shweta Mehrotra Gahlawat said...

Bollyfan: Ah see- you couldn't finish it either! I rest my case with a satisfied toothy grin :B rofl

Veracious: Yup- I felt almost cheated- after seeing him kick some serious butt, to switch over and wallow in romance (which is almost never my cup of tea). But I am learning to accept... :D

TheQuark said...

@bollyviewer: I personally do not believe an actor should play himself. The notion is wrong. So is the question that should cinema be real or not.

According to me KANK was pretentious, extremely pretentious. It tries to tell you that this is a serious topic that we are handling but it is not. Race is a pretentious movie whereas Tashan is not. Tashan does not say we are making great movie, it is masala, a kitsch not a candy floss dressed as serious cinema.

We have improved techniques and all in many areas of cinematography, music, etc. but we play very poor on scripting and editing (not citing any specific example and the argument is very generic in nature).

Shweta Mehrotra Gahlawat said...

I agree absolutely with that last comment Quark: in both Bollywood and Hollywood (I have seen little of other industries to say as much about them), it does appear that technique has taken presendence over plot and script, which are lost amidst all the glitz.Once in a while, when we do have a movie with originality, it is an unusual phenomenon- which should hardly be the case.

Shweta Mehrotra Gahlawat said...

Sitaji: aagh! and also- nahinnnn. :D
The blood is actually rather scary- am not good with it at all. I just like it when he plays action, non-romantic roles, stat.
Of specifically Darr, Devdas, and Koyla- I can only go w/ Darr, cos at least the character there has a spine, beleives in something and goes for it- even though its in an underhanded, creepy fashion. Koyla was just too silly conceptually, and Devdas- just (sigh) spineless love.

yves said...

Hi Shweta,
Great letter! Wonder if the King read it :-)
I have somewhat fallen out of this all-embracing influence these days, but I could also easily write my story of my encounter with him! Unlike you though (but I'm a boy, perhaps it's less passionate?) there'd be less romance and more detachment!

Shweta Mehrotra Gahlawat said...

omg- im so glad u liked it! thank u thank u- u must write urs, cos u do a great job, and i'd love to read it :)
though honestly, i didnt mean it to be involved or romantic when i wrote it :D
this is really interesting, cos I am ur opposite on the srk phenomenon- still wking on embracing it(note to self- b more open minded, b more open minded).

Anonymous said...


Great post with a unique (For me--being a Bollywood newbie) perspective on SRK!

I, of course, prefer the sappy SRK, particularly the "KKHH" and "K3G" Shahrukh. But I do think a lot of his appeal comes from his "real life" interviews, where he seems so genuine.

I had a serious crush on SRK last summer, and while I still love him, I've found my SRK affinity has went down a few notches once I started blogging. Perhaps I decided to branch out more and saw different perspectives on him and Bollywood as a whole.

Anyways, I really enjoyed this post!