There. I said it.
Of course, it’s much easier for a girl to say that in public. For a straight man, this confession elicits judgemental stares – the kind you’d get if your porn stash included the N.D Tiwari videos.
I’m a fan, but not because of MNIK. Sure, Shahrukh has wonderfully essayed the role of a mentally challenged man, but let’s face it – Salman did the same thing more convincingly in Veer. Also, while it was impressive to see SRK stand up to the Shiv Sena via the totally courageous method of putting the Congress on speed dial, it’s still not the reason for my admiration.
No, I became an SRK fan in the early 90s, a time when all of Bollywood seemed to be on some nuclear-powered ganja. This probably explains why, when Chunky Pandey called himself an actor, nobody bothered to correct him.
Into this madness entered a scrawny, brown man with hair that looked like it had been hit by a hurricane, following which a million rabbits had humped in it. SRK, whose great achievements today include sharing two-thirds of his name with KRK, made his debut in Deewana, wherein he, via the subtle process of knifing Divya Bharti’s name on his forearm, attempted to steal her away from Rishi Kapoor. (He succeeded because by then, Rishi Kapoor had begun to resemble present-day Govinda.)
However, one of my favourite SRK moments came in Baazigar, when he threw Shilpa Shetty off a building, presumably turned off by the frocks she wore in that film. There was something else he did which made me a fan for life.
It was a little film called DDLJ.
I wanted to be Raj Malhotra, mostly because of this new girl who had walked into Class VII-A and made me realise that girls, those damn pig-tailed pests, weren’t actually all that bad. (That year, I went on to express my ‘love’ for her by hitting her with a pencil box, throwing water on her and blank-calling her residence. My approach has changed since, mostly because of caller ID.)
Defending SRK hasn’t been easy though, especially when confronted with films like Guddu, Chaahat and the epic English Babu, Desi Mem. Later on came Asoka, a mega-historical, starring Kareena Kapoor’s navel. Asoka’s only virtue was that it was slightly better than Bhansali’s Devdas, which was the celluloid equivalent of an enema.
I’ve stuck around despite all this, and I’m not alone. This was evident last week, when Mumbaikars, spurred on by the fact that it didn’t involve any real work, rushed to the theatres in support of Khan.
Mumbai has always defined itself around ‘outsiders’, and things are no different for this erstwhile Delhiite. For years now, Bandstand has been referred to as ‘that place where Mannat is located’, instead of its more accurate, historical definition, i.e. ‘that place where couples practise baby-making while simultaneously trying not to drown.’
Also, during childhood visits to my native place in U.P, I was often asked one question: “Aap Bombay se ho? Toh aap ne Shahrukh Khan ko dekha hoga na?” Sadly, I haven’t met the man yet, although if I do, the first thing I’ll say, as a life-long fan, is, “Sir, where’s my refund for Devdas?”
(This was my column for the Hindustan Times dated 21st Feb 2010.)