First, many happy returns of the day, Shahrukh. This may be a special birthday for you as you are coming close to the half-century mark. And this may also be a challenging phase professionally, for a star of your stature to keep reinventing yourself at the box office. Unlike the life and times of superstars like Amitabh Bachchan who had several ups and downs during their mid-life roles, you are lucky to have directors who create roles for you to suit or beat your age, often defying logic and belief - Rab ne bana di jodi, Jab tak hai jaan and so on. And fans like me don't like to hear when someone says that you should stop acting or taking up roles of the kind you do now. For, I'm still hopeful that you'll, some day, make some movies where we get to see you in sensible and realistic roles that suit your age and experience.
It's been a week since I watched Happy New Year. And believe me, it has left me thinking not so much about the movie itself but about the way Hindi movies are shaping up, the rat race for the fastest 100+ crores at the box office and glitzy promos, performances etc to woo the global audience. And what about Happy New Year? It’s better to leave it at the theatre for I don’t remember anything from it other than achche din spoof on Mr. Modi and the song Nonsense ki night that had some funny lyrics. In fact, as long as the movie played I could only hear some kids giggling at your antics and some laughter here and there. Nothing could bring a smile for me, neither your whatever-number-of-packs nor your jokes that tried hard to benchmark with Kapil Sharma and his team of cross dressers.
Shakrukh and the cinema of the absurd
With every movie of yours in the last few years, your roles are getting more and more absurd, at this rate, your Om Shanti Om will soon get the status of a classic. Trying to find a method to madness depicted in Ra.One, Chennai Express and Happy New Year, it seems like you have created your own definition of the theatre of the absurd for popular Hindi entertainment a.k.a Bollywood. Remember the plays belonging to this genre and absence of logic, weird comedy, and a voluntary dismissal of meaning and purpose of all our actions. (Readers, please excuse me for borrowing this term from French literature, sorry if I hurt the sensibilities of literary pundits). Today, the absurdity in Hindi cinema shows up in meaningless escapism, absolutely unoriginal comedy, wafer thin plots, rehashes and remakes, sequels, senseless spoofs – all elements of a new formula entertainment that is flimsy, momentary and lasts as long as the popcorn in your cone or bucket. As you know, with the multiplex culture taking roots, we spend more on popcorn and other snacks than for the movie tickets!
Sad but true Shahrukh, you need to do some soul-searching, especially for fans of yours who love your performances in Veer Zara, Swades and Chak de India. How about some roles where you are a normal middle-aged Indian? I know it sounds completely de-glam, but it will reinstate some faith in your loyal fans who are waiting for some serious stuff that satisfies a thinking individual. Like many movie lovers, I have my list of idols and favorites: Gurudutt, Rajesh Khanna, Amitabh Bachchan, Shahrukh Khan. I like them for different reasons - musical, intellectual, sensual, artistic, cinematic etc. My reasons for liking each one of them differ like chalk and cheese.
To put it in your own words: I know you will never underestimate the power of a common fan. I don't know what your next movie is about, however, I hope you will surprise me with at least some of the following: the sensitivity of Gurudutt, the romance of Rajesh Khanna, the angst of Amitabh Bachchan and of course, Shahrukh Khan, the sauve, smart and savvy!