SRK: The Last Superstar Standing

20 Jan,2023



By Shailesh Kapoor


Shailesh KapoorFive days hence, Shah Rukh Khan’s Pathaan will release worldwide. The film marks the return of SRK to the cinemas after an unusually long gap of more than four years since his last release Zero in December 2018. During this period, the actor has featured in some cameos, most recently in Laal Singh Chaddha and Brahamstra. But it’s been quite some wait to see him in a lead role again.


The wait seems even longer because his last few releases have ranged from being unremarkable to disappointing. The search for an SRK film that did well at the box-office and found audience appreciation too would take us back to 2013, when Chennai Express released, and then further back to 2008 and 2007, when Rab Na Bana Di Jodi and Om Shanti Om released, respectively.


It’s been a decade, then, since we saw SRK deliver a film worthy of his superstar status. But 2023 is the year where he seems to be in a hurry to correct that. Pathaan will be followed by Atlee’s Jawan and Rajkumar Hirani’s Dunki. All three films have an anticipatory vibe to them. Pathaan is set to open huge, on the right side of Rs 40 crore, and its second day is likely to cross the 50 cr mark, with the Republic Day national holiday push.


How SRK has managed to maintain his stardom, despite no box-office presence of note for almost a decade can be a mystery to many. But it’s also a case study in what true superstardom is, and how it manifests itself.


The tag ‘superstar’ is used so loosely by the media today, that it has lost its real meaning. When I was growing up in the 80s, Amitabh Bachchan was the only reigning superstar. None of the other stars of the time, such as Mithun Chakraborty, Rishi Kapoor and Anil Kapoor, carried that tag. Only in the early 90s did Shah Rukh Khan get associated with that word. Sunny Deol, who had some huge box-office successes in the 90s, was not called a superstar either. In fact, Madhuri Dixit was the only other star in the first half of the 90s to enjoy that status.


Somewhere from the mid-90s, the media started using the word more liberally. Today, it is used almost interchangeably with the lesser version “star”, which itself is used to describe almost every other actor, including those who do not carry any box office pull at all.


SRK’s stardom was built in the 90s, through a spate of successful love stories, some conventional and others experimental for their time. His romantic persona continues to be his dominant pop culture imagery, a tribute to which is the one of the brighter spots in Laal Singh Chaddha. But the actor has been keener on exploring the action genre in recent years, because of his age and also his personal preference for it. But he’s still looking for a big action blockbuster that gets the box office going beyond just the opening weekend. Pathaan hopes to be that film.


In an era of excessive content and media options, including OTT, short videos and social media, building a superstar persona seems next to impossible. The aura of superstardom came with an idea of inaccessibility and scarcity, which today’s media ecosystem does not support. It’s safe to say that we have already seen the last of our true-blue superstars. And Shah Rukh Khan could be the last man standing from that list, if 2023 is any indication.


Post a Comment 

Comments are closed.

Today's Top Stories