20 years – The might of Shah Rukh Khan: Part 3 By Joginder Tuteja
In Part 1 and 2, we looked at Shah Rukh Khan’s journey during 1992-2005. In the third and concluding part, here is discovering how Shah Rukh hasn’t had a single flop to his name ever since then, his entry into the 100 crore club and potential successes all set to hit the screens in months to come.
Major successes - Don – The Chase Begins Again, Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna, Chak De India, Om Shanti Om, Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, My Name Is Khan, Ra.One, Don 2
Major disappointments - None
Shah Rukh Khan didn’t stop experimenting. For every Don – The Chase Begins Again, he signed a Chak De India. For every Om Shanti Om, he did a My Name Is Khan. Really, if one looks at his filmography in the last few years, he is one of the very few actors who has constantly experimented with genres. Don – The Chase Begins Again was an action flick,Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna was about extra marital relationships, Om Shanti Om was a reincarnation drama, Chak De Indiawas a sports drama, Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi an emotional affair while My Name Is Khan was as topical as it gets.
Did he see any success coming his way? Well yes, and that too practically in each of his outings. Don – The Chase Begins Again, despite the obvious risk of comparisons with Amitabh Bachchan’s 70s actioner, opened to mixed reviews but saw great foot falls coming its way. So much so that it completely crushed Jaan-E-Mann as a result of the clash which it’s maker Sajid Nadiadwala rues till date. The double twist in the climax left one wide mouthed as the film went on to be so popular amongst the masses that a sequel was announced pronto. However, there were more brickbats than appreciation, at least amongst the Indian audience, for Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna. The reason was simple – Not many were willing to come out of the closet and since the film challenged the very virtue of morality, audience didn’t ‘risk’ watching the film with their near and dear ones. Of course the film was mammoth in overseas and a comfortable success in India as well. However, big bucks were still awaited, something which materialised with Chak De India that shocked the trade.
This was a film about hockey, starred 15 odd nameless/faceless girls, was a song less affair, had director of a grim and darkAb Tak Chappan at the helm of affairs and was arriving with minimal publicity. Expectedly, Chak De India opened to a disheartening response. Half empty theaters greeted the film on Friday morning and it had seemed that the fate of Swadeswould be repeated all over again for Shah Rukh Khan. And then a miracle happened. By the time opening weekend came to a close, Chak De India was already being hailed as a modern day classic. Kabir Khan had displaced Raj/Rahul permanently (well, almost), the film’s success was an event, the emergence of a new Shah Rukh Khan was being talked around in unison and finally there was some respite to the talks of – ‘All he does is repeat himself’!
One would have expected him to suddenly start taking himself quite seriously, both on and off the screen. But he remained a businessman at mind, soul and heart (and rightly so). He followed up the seriousness of Chak De India with the frivolousness of Om Shanti Om. His second outing with Farah Khan made a solid statement – ‘We are like this only, take us or leave us’. Result? The film smashed a year long standing record of Dhoom 2 from the opening perspective and stayed at the position for close to a year before Akshay Kumar’s Singh Is Kinng created a new record. However, what Shah Rukh Khan was achieving film after film and was garnering unimaginable box office collections that saw an up each time around. His Om Shanti Om was the first to break the 80 crore barrier, a feat that was repeated with his very next outing Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi.
Not many would have dared to war a moustache, a loose shirt/trouser pair and a pair of thick spectacles for half the film’s duration. Not many would have dared to adopt a dialogue delivery style that risked turning into overtly annoying/funny. Nor many would have adopted the body language of a loser with such high confidence. But Shah Rukh Khan did this all withRab Ne Bana Di Jodi and in the process went on to break the opening weekend record of Singh Is Kinng. Just like Chak De India, even Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi also started slow but settled down soon after.
However, soon after the release of the film, he took a mini break for himself. Many would have thought that it would be a ‘masala’ entertainer next for Shah Rukh Khan after a couple of experimental outings. Instead, Shah Rukh Khan decided to something path breaking by picking up his next film as My Name Is Khan. A man who is labelled as a terrorist, is suffering from Asperger’s syndrome, can’t express his thoughts in a conventional manner, doesn’t quite sing and dance around trees and is basically on a loveless journey sans his female companion for most part of the film – now that’s hardly the recipe of a blockbuster outing that one expects from a leading superstar who has always declared that he is there to entertain audience.
Expectedly, the film didn’t turn out to be a blockbuster, well, at least in India. It turned into a good hit and went on to gain the kind of collections that make it sit tight in the Top-10 grossers of all times. But let’s look at it this way – The film was designed for an international community and if one has to pick the ‘target audience’, it has done exceedingly well in overseas. For India, it was meant for a discerning audience and in that perspective, it has done much better than what a film of this genre could possibly do. Ironically, filmmaker Karan Johar would himself nod in agreement because his Kurbaan, which was far more conventional but dealt with similar subject – terrorism – had failed at the box office not many moons back. In this context, the success that My Name Is Khan has achieved is no mean feat and though the final collections are lesser than his last two blockbusters - Om Shanti Om and Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi - Shah Rukh Khan can well be expected to live through it.
Entry to the 100 crore club
Ra.One didn’t just open to mixed response, it also invited maximum criticism ever for Shah Rukh Khan. The crowds were definitely divided; some found his experiment worth applauding while others felt that he had not just overdone the film but also gone overboard in its marketing and promotion. The film was Shah Rukh’s first to enter the 100 crore club but did fall short of expectations. Frankly, even Shah Rukh would have preferred his march into the club with a film that got him critical acclaim as well.
His Don 2 turned out to be his second straight film to cross the 100 crore club and found Shah Rukh a lot to cheer about all over again. Call it the Ra.One effect but the daggers were out this time around. However, audience gave a green signal to the film as a result of which the response was much better.
One still expects Shah Rukh to be record breaker though instead of being merely content with an entry into the club of record holders. After all, the man has been responsible for many a record openings in his two decade long career and it won’t be surprising if the trend is revisited all over again in months to come. Will Yash Raj’s next with Katrina Kaif and Anushka Sharma turn out to be that film? Or would it be Chennai Express with Rohit Shetty? Not to forget Happy New Year that reunites him with Farah Khan.
Things should be crystal clear by 2013 end but one thing is for sure, Shah Rukh would continue to hold his might without letting go off his roar despite all the massive competition all around him.