#23YearsOfDDLJ: The SRK we loved, the SRK we lost
I don't remember how old was I when I fell in love with Shah Rukh Khan - both the off-screen, articulate, well-read man and the on-screen lover boy who could charm even a corpse. He is witty, hardworking, personification of the rags-to-riches story and unabashed about his success. He made his rules, he broke them too. 23 years back when he was the Raj, I was both Simran and Raj, in equal parts.
DDLJ's Raj was not a character, but an emotion which stayed with us for far too long, may still be there in the closet of my old home. He was flawed, untouched by the whole #MeToo movement, a little sexist (if you may), but he was still the boy you could take home. While he charmed us off our socks, he did a disservice to all the guys. No one could ever match him. But, then something happened!
Somewhere deep down, we all knew Raj doesn't exist. And, perhaps, after a lifetime (to an entrepreneur, it looks like a lifetime already) of hardwork, ambition, fights, little successes and big failures, I now know I wasn't Simran either. I can't fall in love with a rich brat. But, that's not the point. Even then, I wasn't just in love with Raj. I adored the man playing him too. And, he broke my heart.
The industry which is regressive, full of dumb people (looking at you, Salman), SRK stood out. Unlike his colleagues, he had (has?) an aura of a learned man. He was ready to experiment, break the pretentious glass ceiling with every role he did. His self-deprecating humor gave it all - beneath the arrogance, was a man who knew he doesn't have the conventional looks or the much-needed godfather. But, now that man is lost.
The man who defined love, who said he can't sign cheques as he would end up signing 'Love, Shahrukh', the man who wanted to be known as "someone who tried", just stopped taking risks. He started replicating others, his success became so dear to him that he lost his very being. In one of his interviews he said, he works for his employer 'SRK'. I think that employer won, and he lost.
It is hard to believe that the real SRK doesn't know the banality/regressiveness of his recent movies. He is too smart to not know, but perhaps he doesn't care anymore. Or may be our expectations are misplaced? We would never know. But the sad fact is - his interviews are now more entertaining than his movies. He became what he always wanted to - he is larger than his own movies, his own profession.