As someone who has grown up watching Shah Rukh Khan movies, dancing to his songs, and giving instant brownie points to anyone named Aman… reading his biography without being biased was nearly impossible. But therein lay the real challenge for the reader in me. This is the first time I have tried viewing Shah Rukh Can by Mushtaq Shiekh through an objective lens. And by the end of my reading, I was convinced why fans and even non-fans shouldn’t miss out on this coffee table book. Read on to find out why! ^_^
The foreword by Karan Johar (Director-Producer, close friend) highlights how appearances can be deceptive. First impressions are not everything. According to Karan, Khan has an inbuilt aura of goodness that draws in the fans and haters with time.
Shah Rukh Can: The Life and Times of Shah Rukh Khan (Review)
Mushtaq describes Khan as a phenomenon, which lends an interesting beginning to the book. As the story progresses, he lets us be privy to the life and times of this Actor-Businessman-Producer-Lover-Father. Call it poetic justice if you may, but it all feels like watching a blockbuster movie unfold. What exactly is a movie after all? The book establishes it as a dream that we’re made to believe in. Even the nomenclature of his first production house – Dreamz Unlimted – was based on a similar idea.
Khan, in one of his recent interviews, emphasized on the importance of education and having a successful career. You can then be as philosophical as you’d like to be. People seldom believe those not in power. And it is this amiable power of his that the book seems to ride on. Khan’s aura is enough to make us suspend our disbelief, just like we do for movies. If not, you can read it as a piece of fiction and still take back home some “feel-good” anecdotes. For me, these very anecdotes form the heart of the book. Instances like leaving his master’s degree at Jamia and claiming to come back if only they’ll ask him to deliver a guest lecture (he did!), wanting to rule Mumbai one day (did he?)… are certain to stir something in you.
The book attributes Khan’s rise to stardom to his ability to be relatable. From brand SRK to friend SRK, he just connects. And this attribute runs in his genes. His father, Mir Taj Mohammed, had charmed his way into studying law in an all-girls college. It was this very man who had taught Khan to find extraordinary in the ordinary, joy in mundane.
Shehnaz (his sister) views Khan as someone who takes charge. Everything could be in shambles, but this one-man army would deal with it all! The portrayal of Lateef Fatima’s (his mother) death is certain to create a lump in your throat. But then again, even she had her share of teachings to impart to Khan. The foremost one being – the impermanency of things. Khan believes that if he could lose his mother, fame and fortune stand no chance.
As a student at Hans Raj College, Khan was the master of all traits. He excelled in academics, but he was also the captain for hockey, cricket, and football teams. Khan himself regards his success as a “fantastic accident of being the right person at the right place at the right time.” Whether it’s his modesty or honesty, that’s for you to figure out. But he does believe that every time he worked hard, he just felt luckier. Shah Rukh Can also throws light on the secular religious beliefs that are apparently preached and practiced at Mannat (his home). There are times when Aryan (his son) starts off the prayer with Gayatri Mantra and ends up reciting the Nasrun.
Talking of his craft, Khan states that it is his mannerisms that people identify with. He’ll continue to work till the day the masses stop wanting to feel familiar with him and know him. He describes the performance as externalized acting and himself as a self-aware performer. So, even when he is loud in some scenes, it is deliberate. The reasoning behind such over-the-top portrayal might be flawed, but certainly is not something out of control. Khan highlights the importance of observation skills. Watching people (especially children) walk and talk, and picking up mannerisms is an art in itself. He goes on to compare getting a character’s nuance right to the act of a newly-in-love couple discovering things about each other. There is a sense of novice embarrassment. It’s insights like these that might make you want to listen/read about this man for hours..@IamSRK himself regards his success as a "fantastic accident of being the right person at the right place at the right time." Click To Tweet
Talking of style, Khan describes it as comfort. But unlike the age-old phrase “wear what you feel comfortable in,” Khan extends the definition to acts; things you do are fashion. He feels that as you soon as you dress up for the occasion, you’re unfashionable!
Like all of us, Khan too has his problem areas and quirks. He cannot say NO, a fact stated by all his close ones and reaffirmed by his closest one – Gauri (his wife). Towards the end, when Mushtaq tries to join together all threads, Khan starts appearing more like a mirage. While it is difficult to pin him down to a definition, full marks to Mushtaq for the delightful attempt. As journalist Nishi Prem points out, “the more he talked about himself, the more of an enigma he became.” And perhaps, only for the better. By the time we finish reading, we wish to unravel more about what all Shah Rukh Can do but that desire stems from a place of comfort that Mushtaq keeps building on.
Lastly, the book could not have ended on a better note. Mushtaq quips, “I am still reading him. Hope you don’t mind!” almost becoming one of the readers rather than the author.