This happens EVERY time there is a new Shahrukh Khan release so let me spell it out again:
I saw Om Shanti Om twice in the theaters.
At the time I really enjoyed it, although, at the time, I had yet to see a lot of the old, great classics.
I skipped Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi for reasons I can’t recall; it’s not impossible that I just didn’t have a ride to the theater. I did see Billu Barber and remember it being quite a pleasant little film but from that point forward I have deliberately skipped every single Shahrukh Khan film to come out.
Was it the unending Ra.One promotions? The holy posing in My Name Is Khan? The massive ego, unflatteringly revealed, in interview after interview? The desperate grasping at Hollywood?
Here’s the deal: I really dislike Shahrukh Khan but it didn’t start out that way. He’s earned my dislike over the past few years with his dismissal of everything that I loved about Bollywood and his embrace of everything that I hate about Hollywood.
Take visual effects. (No, take them, please!) While I do appreciate the improvement in film quality and fun editing tricks, these things should be a bonus to a film, not the whole purpose. One of the things I love about popular Indian film is the reliance on the human being as special effect. I mean, what can a computer do that is better than Prabhudeva dancing? Better than Sonu Sood ripping off his shirt or Vidyut Jamwal executing a sweet roundhouse kick? What can a computer do that is better than Sonakshi Sinha’s jiggle? The answer is: nothing.
I would gladly trade all the special effects in the world for one dance by Mumaith Khan.
But if you want to talk Chennai Express--which seemingly everybody does, specifically while using train metaphors--the problem I have with it (other than the Kollywood minstrel show thematics) is the promotions. Shahrukh has said a few times that this is his contribution to the “mass entertainer.” And, oh, won’t the masses be grateful for whatever scraps Shahrukh throws their way after his promotional jaunt to London.
I do recognize the fact I’m a white lady in Washington, DC, and please believe that I am not speaking for anyone other than myself when I say that for a guy making a movie “for the masses,” it does seem like an odd decision to a) raise ticket prices 40% and b) crow about how the film is opening in the most non-diaspora global markets ever and c) give lengthy interviews to the Times of London about being a global superstar. Correct me if I wrong--I don’t want to stereotype anybody here--but I don’t think too many villagers in UP subscribe to Rupert Murdoch’s prized print outlet nor are planning trips to Germany and/or Israel to do any film viewing.
Exactly which mass is this “mass entertainer” aimed at? Judging from the trailers, it does seem to be a midlevel Rohit Shetty comedy-actioner that the heartland viewers who made Golmaal: Fun Unlimited a hit would enjoy, which just makes the promotions and “the most global screens ever” even more baffling. Is it good business sense to ignore the very people you claim to have made the film for? A midlevel Rohit Shetty movie is generally a pretty good one-time watch but does the fact that Shahrukh Khan is in it, suddenly make it worthy of a HUGE global release and tons of media hype? Shahrukh Khan would answer yes but I’m not so sure. Imagine sending Bol Bachchan or All the Best: Fun Begins to Tel Aviv and Munich. It’s ridiculous, right? People there don’t care so why waste everybody’s time and why generate endless press releases about it to waste MY time, specifically?
Because make no mistake, the money being thrown around all these Internet “Bollywood news” outlets is staggering and keeps increasing. AND NONE OF IT has been proven to actually get people into the theater. I may excitedly track upcoming releases months in advance (RAMBO RAJKUMAR) but your average aam aadmi does not and why should he? He’s busy working hard for his family and just living his life, not watching an unending stream of 30 second dialogue promo videos on youtube. The only people with time to do that are college boys in their dorm rooms, in between searching for Sunny Leone videos and calling home to mummy.
To be perfectly honest, Shahrukh Khan reminds me of another bloated media figure--Jay Z. Sasha Frere-Jones, one of the few Americans writing anything worthwhile on popular culture, had an insightful piece in the New Yorker on Jay Z; a lot of the points he made could be applied to Shahrukh Khan, too. The drive to earn money; the increasing laziness in his art; the disengagement with real social issues affecting his audience; and the corrosive effect of his own self-importance.
Shahrukh Khan stopped making movies I could connect with back in 2007 with Chak De India.
He may call himself the king but he lost my respect a long time ago.
I've grown to dislike Priyanka Chopra for many of the reasons. The media hype over her Planes red carpet appearance in Los Angeles was just embarrassing. Do you know who else attended that event? Ashlee Simpson. Dane Cook. Yup, the cream of the A-list right there if by "A-list" you mean "people whose names you might recognize because they did things like get caught lip syncing on live television." And to add to the embarrassment, Piggy was barely mentioned or shown in the American coverage of the event. Maybe she'll go drown her sorrows in a Mallika Sherawat-themed milkshake, you know, the one on the menu a good three years before PC's. And look what an honor that was! Mallika's career has just soared since then. Oh, wait, typo. SOURED since then.