SRK needs to shed the romantic hero image

He is talented, successful and has abundant resources. If someone can really break the redundant mould of a typical Hindi film hero, it is King Khan, Shah Rukh Khan, our own SRK

Photo Courtesy: PTI
Photo Courtesy: PTI

Pragati Saxena

According to the latest reports by BoxofficeIndia.com, Zero’s worldwide collections stood at ₹ 178 crore. It has thus found a place in the ten highest grossers of 2018.

But for a superstar like Shah Rukh Khan, this box office collection is not really impressive. Since he started his career in Bollywood, Shah Rukh Khan has been popular as the King and SRK has not shied away from experimenting with various roles. It was he who, back in the 90’s, broke the stereotypical image of an action or romantic hero and opted for a negative role in Darr. His stuttering ‘I love you, kkkk Kiran…’ became an iconic dialogue and is still used to characterise an obsessive lover (stalker).

But sadly, as Hindi film industry is, SRK too found himself typecast as a romantic hero when his film Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge’ became a mammoth hit. The film projected him as an upper middle class urban romantic hero who, as critics later pointed out, despite having a regressive outlook is a modern NRI (Non-Resident Indian). But he always went on to become popular as a middle-class, urban, boy-next-door hero. He did try to break this image by doing a few forgettable roles of a village boy, yet this image of his remains popular till now.

Though the superstar kept churning out blockbusters, the zeal with which he kept experimenting with offbeat roles kept fading

With Duplicate, One 2 ka 4 and finally Don, he established himself as an action hero too but people’s favourite was that dimpled, dreamy-eyed, middle-class boy who is educated yet traditional and doesn’t rebel against mummy-papa or redundant traditions.

Yet, he kept on experimenting. In some novel roles, he succeeded. In many, he failed at the box office. Asoka bombed but the brooding Kabir Khan of Chak De…India was a hit. Swades and Paheli nosedived, yet Devdas went on to become the highest grosser of the year 2002.

Though the superstar kept churning out blockbusters, the zeal with which he kept experimenting with offbeat roles kept fading. Yet, he was intelligent enough to opt for the roles of badaa bhai (Dilwale) or a lonely man in his forties (Chennai Express) or an experienced psychologist (Dear Zindagi)

Then comes Zero with which he significantly broke down the image of a typical good-looking, good-natured hero and came in the avatar of a vertically challenged man who is selfish, rash and doesn’t care if he is hurting someone emotionally. But one thing has remained unbroken. That is the romantic image in which he was cast in right from the beginning.

But it is high time he broke down that image now, more so because now his daughter and his son both are poised to be launched in the films (or so the grapevine says). And fortunately for him, the world of Hindi cinema has changed a lot. Many low budget films on unusual topics with a crisp script like Badhaai Ho, Stree, Andhadhun and many more are making a mark at the box office and giving stiff competition to the typical big-star Hindi flicks with no content but lots of stylised romance and action.

So, what is SRK afraid of? He is talented, successful and has abundant resources. If someone can really break the redundant mould of a typical Hindi film hero, it is undoubtedly Shah Rukh Khan.

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Published: 20 Jan 2019, 11:00 AM