Sunday, November 25, 2007

Why I don't like Shahrukh Khan - the actor

I'd said I'd elaborate upon this quite some time back, but am only getting down to it now. To be fair this should've been done a long time back; one cannot allow the myth to be propagated unabated.

I don't have any problems with Shahrukh Khan the individual. I actually admire him for being well read, his generally civilized public demeanour, his sense of humour, for what he has achieved in life. I believe he is an extremely intelligent human being who would have succeeded in any sphere he would've ventured into. But I do have problems with the public image of the man. And I have serious concerns about the blatant media manipulation behind this public image.

While I will give Shahrukh his due (one must): he is very popular, he is an extremely energetic performer, he has a modicum of sparingly used talent as well; one thing I will not concede to is the myth that Shahrukh Khan is a good actor.

Shahrukh is at best a mediocre actor. Even if you do not compare him to previous greats like Dilip Kumar & Amitabh Bachchan, even if you compare him to his generation of actors like Aamir Khan, Akshay Khanna & now Akshay Kumar, he comes up short. And we're not even going down the Om Puri-Naseer-Anil Kapoor path! So that should really put an end to the argument that he is a "good" actor. He is like I said before an actor who has uptil now displayed only limited range. This may be in part because he has hitherto chosen to deliver only what the Indian movie-going masses required. There may be an actor inside him that he chooses to let out only occasionally. Let us examine that argument as well.

To be fair to him, he has recently attempted genuinely different roles (Swades and Chak De India), and he did put in a fairly decent performance in Swades. But again it is not the kind of performance that will come up while Om Puri's, Naseer's or Amitabh's performances are being discussed.

To every well educated, exposed mind it should be amply clear that while SRK is a huge star in crazy ol' Bollywood, calling him a good "actor" is belittling the other more serious practitioners of the craft. They may be too dignified to say anything, but it must hurt them when such irresponsible rubbish is printed.
Enough said about his acting abilities. Let us move on to more the sinister reasons for my dislike of SRK the "star".

Why is it that one doesn't read the opposite point of view in any form of media about SRK? Why hasn't even a single film journo written about SRK's limited talent? There are multiple magazines (and filmi channels now), and he has been around for over a decade. Are you trying to tell me that not even once in the last 10 years has a fair analysis of him as an actor has been attempted? There has to be a reason for this. And while I don't understand the workings of the Hindi film industry(!) or the media that thrives on it's fringes, one thing is clear enough: There is a filmmaker-filmstar-media nexus that is for the first time in Indian Cinema's history, manipulating the already semi-literate Indian moviegoer to further their cause!

When Anil Kapoor was attempting to fill the superstar shoes for a while, the media went all over town calling him manipulative. But you don't hear the media write anything negative about Shahrukh Khan. There's been talk about SRK buying awards, about doing favours to Filmfare & others to win them over & garner more awards, and I agree that it could be nonsense, but there's no mention of it in the media! Forget manipulative, the media has never even referred to his acting style as cinematic, forget a fair, unbiased analysis of the star! No wonder serious journalists have so much contempt for not just the Stardust/Filmfare types but also the Bombay Times kinds. It's quite a shame actually! In a greater sense, it is a reflection of the morality of the modern Indian. There are hardly any champions of truth left.

Anyway, Filmfare awards are hardly the barometer of acting talent. They're essentially popular awards that are voted for by the unqualified general public and very different from the National Awards that are judged by a jury/panel of experts. And the news is that SRK hasn't won any National Awards, while Ajay Devgan & Sunny Deol have been previous winners. Actors like Mamooty, Anil Kapoor, Mithunda & Amitabh Bachchan have all been winners. But no SRK.

So there you have it: I don't like SRK the star because of these 2 reasons:
. His limited acting ability and
. His being part of this blatant media manipulation.

There is another reason to not like him, but since it's a personal decision that he needs to take, I'll only touch upon it here.

SRK can use his stardom for great causes. He can influence public opinion against the BJP in Gujarat, lead an anti-spitting drive to clean up Indian roads, genuinely bring change about in India. But he hasn't done anything!

In contrast Shabana Azmi and even Aamir Khan recently have at least attempted to give back to society. And they're superior actors as well! When will the Indian public wake up???

And while I'm at it, here's the best review ever of SRK's latest OSO sorry film! Seriously! Best review ever! Looks like some of the movie-going public is waking up.

PS: SRK on being voted Sexiest Asian Man: "I get embarassed when people call me sexy."

Me: "You get embarassed??? I get embarrased when people call you sexy!!! What has the world come to!!!"


  1. Nice piece, and no, I don't find this biased at all :). Have replied to your comment in detail on my blog...but I'll just add a few more things here. The buying of awards stuff just doesn't fly with me. Second--That Sunny Deol can get 2 National Awards is proof enough that even National Awards are not all that reliable, remember Saif for Hum Tum recently?

  2. I agree with you. The Saif for Hum Tum was a let down though not necessarily Sunny. The Raveena for Daman too was a shocker. It kinda shakes the confidence.

  3. hi i don't agree with u but to tell u the truth .. u write very well and i loved reading ur blog.

    Keep it up

    I did not agree as i'm die hard fan of SRK

  4. Anon... You don't have to agree with me. As long as you know the truth deep down inside, I'm OK. :-)

  5. "Even if you do not compare him to previous greats like Dilip Kumar & Amitabh Bachchan, even if you compare him to his generation of actors like Aamir Khan, Akshay Khanna & now Akshay Kumar, he comes up short"

    that's where i stopped reading, IMO Akshay Kumar is a mediocre actor and gets his popularity with cheap comedy movies.

  6. Anonymous # 2,

    You don't have to agree with everything I say. You're entitled to your opinion. In India we potentially have 1 Billion opinions! Doesn't make all of them right, does it? ;-)
    Akshay Kumar has grown tremendously as an actor. He's expanded his forte from only action to romance & comedy. I agree that he's isn't brilliant or even all round (Bhoolbhulaiya shows his limitations as an actor), but at the same time, he scores over most others in the action genre. And as Mujhse Shaadi Karogi & Bhagam Bhag showed he's capable of knocking out heavyweights ilke Govinda & Salman when he does comedy. SRK is not known at all for either Action or Comedy. In fact that is one reason why he will never compare to a legend like Amitabh Bachchan on the basis of his current body of work. SRK knows his limits & therefore sticks to his strengths & audience, romance & gooey-eyed ladies.
    Does this make any sense? You're entitled of course to not agree.


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