Can Shah Rukh Khan Make It In Films?

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Back in the late 80s and early 90s, television in India was in its nascent stage of development. Think of the internet from 2008-2009 when the whole of cyberspace was your fucking playground and you hadn't thought of it like a Flickr for your wedding album (there was such a time- really). So, yes television used to be quite a hip mode of entertainment, rather, people looked at it as a sign of having 'arrived', and having made it in life- if you did watch the cool things like the cool kids did.

Many moons ago, I was at the National Film Archive of India for all kinds of official reasons.  My advisor/professor had asked me to look out for this magazine/journal called TV and Video World, which was kinda like the entertainment supplement/magazine covering all the buzz from the Indian Television and video industry, which is what the kids would call 'lit fam' (I really don't know what that means). Produced by the Indian Express group, the magazine was in circulation from mid 80s to the early 90s. Just as how VHS died, with Doordarshan, the magazine phased out too. I am yet to meet anyone from that period who remembers this besides the bunch at my alma mater who introduced me to this. Nevertheless, for this chunk of information and for introducing me to the magazine, I shall forever be grateful to them, and the folks at NFAI. After what seemed like a good coaxing session for one whole day, the librarian finally agreed to dig out and hand me the hard copies of all that they've saved at the archives from the period of its circulation.

If you know a thing or two about the government institutes, you would know that accessing any kind of documentation from the archives etc for your personal use, is next to impossible. To make sure my ground is covered (and well because I can lie to save my life), let's just say this was procured absolutely well within the guidelines mentioned to us at the beginning of our archival trip years ago. For more information, feel free smoke a doob and invent it yourself.

Coming back to TV and Video World, since my research was on the contemporary, there wasn't a lot to take from there. However, I brought back trivia, which I knew would weigh in gold later. I think I'm ready to harvest some of that produce.

In 1991, the ever so charming Mr. Shah Rukh Khan graced the cover of TV and Video World. What looks like his first magazine/press cover appearances, the man went on record to say a lot of (now) blasphemous and rather cool things for his time. For a reference, this interview/cover appearance/feature was done before I was born. That ought to give you some idea about the time and its writing style.

The thing about 90s is this unabashed sense of making conversation. With respect to the content that was broadcasted, written and documented in that decade, everyone spoke their heart out. The media was curt and almost passive aggressive in its writing, especially pertaining to the entertainment. TV and Video World was extremely driven purely on speculation. Think of a magazine channelling the vibe of Black Mirror, almost prophetic in that sense. Every article, feature, review and interview was driven towards thinking about its future, and speculations were made to conclude it.

Coming across the Shah Rukh issue was engrossing, for all reasons. The feature by a certain Shernaaz Engineer, who is the editor of Jam-e-Jamshed, a Parsi weekly (given by its popularity seems like a big thing) the beginning of Shah Rukh interview cliches from the 90s. Think of him talking about his cigarette count, his humble beginning, family, Delhi, and his career in Bombay.

Which brings me to this privileged position where I can share with you how TV and Video World actually put an insert asking if he can really make it in films here in India? At the time of the feature, he had signed three films but none of them had come out. Shah Rukh Khan was making news with his television appearances. With his delightfully charming face and that dimpled smile, he was bound to come across as flamboyant, if not arrogant. This misinterpretation runs in a lot of journalistic writing about Shah Rukh from his confidence and his Delhi boy élan (which seems to be in deficit in Delhi boys now). If not for anything, the feature is worth the stunning b/w image of Shah Rukh Khan's dimples (I think it's my hormones).

The most important takeaway for me, on a day like this (when I've literally had the worst day so far in this year) is that if Shah Rukh Khan can say the following lines and believe in them, I can rise like Maya Angelou, avoiding all the morons from attempting to putting me down.

"If a director tells me to do something ridiculous, I'm not going to do it blindly. He'll have to convince me that it's the best thing for the character I'm playing. That's all I'm interested in ultimately- my work."

(Open the image in a separate browser and zoom in to read. In case you would like to read the feature/see the cover, drop in a comment.)

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  1. Hey, I wanna read the entire feature. Pliss to oblige. :)

  2. Hey, I wanna read the full feature. Pliss to oblige? :)


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