BBC NEWS: Shah Rukh Khan is the most popular movie star in the world

His name may not mean much in the West but Bollywood megastar Shah Rukh Khan is quite possibly the most popular movie star in the world.

With Bollywood cinema reaching an estimated three billion people his following far exceeds that of Hollywood’s stars.

But after nearly 30 years in the business – and more than 70 films under his belt – 46-year-old Khan remains unexpectedly shy and still can’t quite fathom why legions of fans commonly refer to him as the King of Bollywood.

“I get amazed they call me that – and I think maybe deep down inside my heart I don’t deserve all of this,” he says. “I feel very grateful and very odd. I don’t even know why people like me so much.”

He explains how his confident exterior masks a withdrawn personality. “I’m a very shy person. As I’m getting older, I’m becoming more and more reclusive,” he says.

Given his proclaimed shyness he says acting has been a source of solace. “I actually act just to cover up my awkwardness, so I become some other person and do all the strange things. It’s nearly schizophrenic, and I can just go and do something and not feel responsible, not feel shy, not feel odd, not feel awkward.”

Khan is known for his wide range of films. Some of his pictures have become modern popular classics where he often plays the romantic lead.

“You know, it’s so strange that I’ve done so many love stories, and all my co-actresses and all my friends and ladies, they say, ‘Oh, you’re so romantic.’ I’ve never in my life been able to go and say hello to a girl at a party. The first person I said it to was my wife and I married her quickly.”

Priyanka ChopraKhan’s co-star Priyanka Chopra says he is popular partly because he is so humble

He says he’s thrilled by acting but doesn’t want to review his work once shooting is complete. “I can’t even see my films. I think out of the 70 films I’ve not seen more than three, I can’t watch my films. I get embarrassed.”

With other Indian actors gaining popularity in recent times Khan’s stature has taken a little bit of a beating – but for his followers he has an almost magical ability to keep them enthralled.

Top Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra believes his popularity is partly explained by his humility. “There’s a relatability to him,” she says. “He’s humble, and at the same time, he has the qualities that every mother would want in her child or every wife would want in her husband and every kid would want in her dad. He has all of those in him, so that makes him more than just this movie star who sings you incredible songs. It makes him a brand or a commodity which everyone relates to, and hence why he has become more than just a movie star.

Superhero role

The actor enthusiastically engages with his fans wherever he goes – but he’s also very involved with colleagues in the movie business working hard to push the Indian film industry forwards.

His latest starring role was in Ra.One, released in October, a film which he also produced. It’s been described as India’s most expensive film. It’s a state-of-the-art superhero picture which, its promoters claim, boasts more special effects than director James Cameron’s Avatar.

Shah Rukh Khan Khan wants to make films that appeal to both Indian and Western audiences

Khan believes the Indian film industry has to bring up its production standards if it is to survive – especially at a time when Hollywood is beginning to make inroads into the Indian market.

“Youngsters are exposed to international cinema. They are wanting quality. They are wanting styling. They are wanting designing. They are wanting storytelling, which is international now, and if we don’t cater to that, I think five, seven years later, young kids, the ones who are 15, 16 will stop watching Indian films.”

Many critics were impressed by the special effects in Ra.One but there were some gripes about the weakness of the storytelling.

Khan, while not pointing to any particular deficits in Ra.One, concedes Indian screenwriting needs to change – especially with overseas markets in mind.

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We make musicals. That format needs to change”

“I think our screenplay technique needs to improve a lot more. We make musicals. That format needs to change. We can still have the music, but maybe not so obtrusively.

“If you want to sell a film overseas internationally, it will have to be initially written by screenplay writers from the West, because they understand.” But he believes Indian content should definitely be retained.

One of Khan’s big ambitions is to make a film that will cross over and satisfy audiences in both the West and India. “I’ll keep tirelessly working towards that… I don’t want to sell the poverty and the snake charmers of India. I want to sell the educated middle class of India. I want to tell them there’s a lot of intelligence here, intellect here, rich here, happiness here, colourful culture here, and with due respect, we are not just some country, a Third World country. I don’t want to sell the sadness of this country. I want to sell the happiness of the country.”

Although many of the films that in which Khan has appeared are escapist he remains committed to real life issues.

‘Secular’ industry

Last year the actor, who was born into a Muslim family, starred in the film My Name Is Khan which dealt with Muslim profiling in post-9/11 America. “I thought I should be one of the few people, at least in India, to tell people that being Muslim is not necessarily being a terrorist or bad guy. The world should not be divided like this.”

But the actor maintains that despite living in a country where Muslims are in the minority he’s never experienced any discrimination in the film business. “I think the Indian film industry is the most secular place to find a job in. I don’t even know if anybody knows anybody else’s religion while we’re working together. I’ve never been disadvantaged as far as being a Muslim is concerned in this industry.”

Despite his sometimes humble and insecure assessment of himself Khan doesn’t come across as an unfulfilled man.

“I feel very happy that I’m allowed by God to come and be someone else. That’s all I need to do, and I just keep doing it every morning I get up. My family keeps asking, ‘How do you do this?’ I said, ‘I just love it. I’m just very happy doing acting.’”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-radio-and-tv-15820465

31 Comments

  1. Sahil19 said:

    I think the worldwide fans are split up into different fans of different stars, not everybody whos know srk are his fan, just like the 5 billion alledged fans of aiswaryia rai.

  2. TERA BAAP said:

    Re:The first person I said it to was my wife and I married her quickly.”

    They met in 1984 and married in 1991

    Why unnecessary lies?

  3. Rosh said:

    “I can’t even see my films. I think out of the 70 films I’ve not seen more than three, I can’t watch my films. I get embarrassed.”

    A blatant lie. But you should be embarrassed! They are terrible. Yet you force your movies down the unsuspecting public’s throat!

  4. rockie_c83 said:

    Soo the King is back … with his KingSize Non Sense…

    I knw you are talking .. but all I can hear is … blah blah blah …. !!

  5. genuine_analyzer said:

    Very true…of all the indian actors in australia people only know SHAHRUKH KHAN..no doubt hez an indian megastar.

  6. right said:

    Foreign Media is writing about him and still jealousy showing in comments of Delight44, rockie_c83 & Fearlesssoul. If BBC would have done that for Aamir Khan Delight44, rockie_c83 & Fearlesssoul these idiots would have said Aamir Khan has made India proud, brought bollywood on global platform, etc.

  7. genuine_analyzer said:

    @ right…i agree….many people here at NG have made it a fanbase sorts f forum..guyz we need to be impartial and accept the fact that although most of us,including me, dont like srk as an actor but when it comes to globalization hez d one who has made india proud.Hez the real global megastar of India,infront SRK all other khans stand nowhere..SRK is the true indian global superstar.Hatsssss of to SHAH RUKH KHAN

  8. Fearlesssoul said:

    @right – Your Agrument affirms and reflects your status of jealousy :P

    Please restrain yourself from any asinine personal remarks against any member.

    Do you Know How famous Raj Kapoor was in Russia during his times? Don’t signle out any one Star for the global success of Indian Cinema.

    @Geniune_analyzer – Your Analysis says it all how genuine you are :P

    @Fasel – Ra One was Srk’s Film ;)

  9. genuine_analyzer said:

    @fearlesssoul…i dont need to proove my genuine analysis about stars and BO..slowly and steadly u’ll realize..it seems at one place that i am supporting SRK but its not the case..sach yahi hai :)

  10. Fearlesssoul said:

    @ GA – “Very true…of all the indian actors in australia people only know SHAHRUKH KHAN..no doubt hez an indian megastar.”

    Then Screening of 3Idiots, BG and other No of films of different stars was screened for Aliens in Australia as Australian knows only one Mega Star :P
    Which part of Australia you live in :lol:

  11. Rosh said:

    LOL FS :D

    @GA
    ” we need to be impartial and accept the fact that although most of us,including me, dont like srk as an actor but when it comes to globalization hez d one who has made india proud.”

    He is the most known name outside of India .. that is true. But that doesnt mean people are his fans (except NRI aunties) and he has done nothing to make India proud. My secod-generation NRI cousins who never watch Indian movies as such know only one Indian actor, SRK, but to them he is more of a circus joker and Bollywood itself is a big joke. If thats what makes you feel proud as an Indian, keep feeling proud.

  12. ash52 said:

    atleast he is ageing naturally…coz he knows people like him for what person he is…n not how young he looks…good looks were never his plus points…he does not need any botox or facial surgery…aur waise bhi aaj yahi budhaa sucessfully married hai aur 2 bache hai…unlike lallu jo ke hijra hai…uska facial disorder nahi hai…uske private part ka disorder hai…SRK has got immense respect and admiration worldwide…unlike lowdy landore jo apni biwi se publicly apni zip khulwaata hai.

  13. Shalu said:

    ash52, You have been on NG long enough to know that such language is not acceptable here. Please don’t use such language again.

  14. ash52 said:

    sorry for such language…as u know m not a member here…i visit this site to get useful bollywood information…but i am least interested in boxoffice collections…but lately this site has become a fan base portal…every srk,salman,akki and aamir movie are targeted here…some of the them try to create negativity even before the release…this has reduced my interest in this site, not that it matters to u people in anyway…but that day is not far when only members of the site will be left to discuss movies.Coming onto this article, I think BBC has some good credentials…n its no way a srk’s PR exercise…i stay in Dubai and i know how popular he is over here…every indian / pakistani / bangladeshi saloon over here has his large size pic to attract costumers…every money exchange has his large size poster of raone promoting western union…his movies are seen by large chunk of arab population in theaters even though they dont understand our language…if not the most good looking…if not the most versatile actor…if not the most bankable actor…if not the most friendly actor in indsutry…but there is no doubt that this man called SHAHRUKH KHAN is the most popular movie star in this world.PERIOD

  15. Karan2011 said:

    Just be happy u guys who are hating that the most popular actor in the world is srk who is an indian and from bollywood.

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