An Jo on SRK


In response to SRK discussion in this thread; An Jo’s comment:

SRK was/is one of those actors who can hardly be called super-talented. But he is that star-actor who can be so impactful in certain roles, that he can make even his most ardent-haters realize that he is irreplaceable in a certain kind of role.

When I first watched him in the tele-serials, I was put-off apropos his speedy dialogue-delivery. There was hardly a digression/nuance in dialogue-delivery. Then I watched the pretentious movie ‘In which Annie gives to those ones‘ where he was composed and one where I thought he would be an ace: Dostoevsky’s ‘The Idiot’, Mani Kaul’s interpretation as the ‘Ahmaq.’ But look at the scene; his goat-bleating laugh is here as well! In a Mani Kaul film! [No strange co-incidence; that Amol directed SRK in ‘Paheli’ a re-make of Kaul’s ‘Duvidha’.] So yes, the YRF phase made him a NRI super-star wearing those 3$ GAP T-shirts and hoodies but it is not that KJo — I can’t believe I am letting this, well, ‘person’, off the hook — really brought out the deficiencies and stereo-types in acting: It was always there! If one wants further proof, one just needs to look at ‘Raam Jaane’: If there’s any film that needs to be shown to budding film-actors as to how not to ham, it is SRK’s performance in this film.

Now, if one compares this with Amitabh ‘s performance in ‘Sanjog‘ in 1969 starring Mala Sinha, or better yet, ‘Saudagar’, [a marvellous performance bearing testimony to the human emotions of love, lust, jealousy, and greed] before he became a super-star with his hair-style and getting to be an angry young man first, and then, shattering the myth by becoming a one-man-variety go-to-guy, he was always a pure actor first, a star later. Bachchan has too many, too many films on his shelf to contradict his tenure as an actor-star and a star-actor. If he can better Dilip Kumar in a half-commercial but very grim movie like Shakti, no wonder the roots originated here when he could stand his own against a power-house performer like Nutan in ‘Saudagar.’ No wonder even Ray wanted to work with Amitabh! Now that, that’s what’s missing in SRK’s oevure.

There are only 3 films, that I, as a totally uninterested person in SRK’s career, that I plead allegiance to: CHAAHAT, DIL SE, SWADES, ZERO, and lastly FAN [in Fan, the part where he plays the actor/him-self; he was bad as Gaurav but physically, it’s commendable how dexterous he was.] DIL SE was the film that sealed it for me that this actor is a limited-range actor but boy-o, when he gets a role that suits him, he will own it. Two scenes, just those 2 scenes in DIL SE conquered me: a) When he talks to so-called brothers/terrorists of Manisha with arrogance – ‘Mein aaj bhi ek botal hawa mein phenke doosre botal se phod sakta hoon’ and then, the scene when he walks toward Manisha and Meeta Vashisht on his engagement day. That walk, that walk toward Manisha shook me like anything when I first watched the movie. Of course, it was Mani’s umbrella, but that bloody spoke made the umbrella sturdier, richer!

It’s a false understanding, hence, when one says that SRK was a ‘true’ actor and YRF destroyed him. Nothing like that. He was always an actor that needed a very strong director to bring out his talent, and that talent really was not the one that could fit-in like water filling in the contours of a brook, as and when demanded, seasonally.

34 Responses to “An Jo on SRK”

  1. Srk is a star. Period. He isnt a star-actor like Aamir, Amitabh or many other yesteryear stars. As someone said today, comparing Srk to any star actor is a blasphemy since he cant hold a candle to them.

    Even most ardent fans celebrate Srk as a star, not for his acting or quality of his films. Not unless one is confused between good acting and stylized overacting.

    DDLJ did not seal him as an overactor. Films like Darr had ample display of overacting. The success of DDLJ just sealed his fate as a romcom superstar. Not a problem if one is a fan of that genre.

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  2. His biggest drawback was his unwillingness to build upon the antagonist/anti hero avatar that he shot to fame with in Baazigar, Anjaam & Darr. Its this anti establishment avatar that allowed Ab Sr to reinvent himself even in his 60s with films like Khakee & Sarkar and now in his 70s with Wazir & Pink. Of course him being versatile as he is, he excellent in comic timing with Chupke Chupke & Namak Halaal as well as romance with Kabhi Kabhi, Mr Natwarlal etc. SRK shockingly never bothered reinventing his hugely successful Darr & Baazigar image post DDLJ. His poor script selection in off beat films like Asoka, Josh & Paheli only added to his woes. Such is his over reliance on romance that even in action masala films like Don/Don 2 & Raees or sci fi like Ra1, his character has to be “romantic enough” for his fanbase, the same fanbase that outright rejects him in any avatar apart from romance and one that’s yet to evolve since the mid 90s.

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  3. tonymontana Says:

    SRK is rather inconsistent in his performances. As he has aged, one can see the maturity in his acting. But in his earlier works, he used to own a few scenes while hamming his way through the rest.

    Like in K3G, his acting was affected in emotional scenes where he would be made to cry. He had a ‘formula’ of how to emote while crying, which involved using his eyes in a certain way, knowing well they are the most expressive part of his face. It all ended up looking artificial.
    However, he brought the house down in the lighter portions, especially in the second half, probably because he didn’t have the burden to act in those scenes but just be himself. Like his off screen persona. I believe he overshadowed Hritik, and was better than him with his comic timing.

    I think it’s his need to manipulate his viewers that has been his undoing. The ‘look at my puppy eyes, my smile, my dimples and my charm’ narcissism hasn’t left him, and like most yesteryear stars, he is stuck in a time wrap.

    His best effort would come only when he stops taking himself seriously.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. tonymontana Says:

    One of the my most favourite SRK performances, which people often fail to mention, remains Baadshah. He seemed to be having quite a ball in every scene. Possibly the most confident and natural I’ve seen him in, where the comic timing was spot-on, lifting the otherwise average film by his energy. Think he can be quite a riot in a well written comedy scene

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I think it’s less about YRF destroying the actor, and more about YRF creating the star. Pre DDLJ, SRK did have a variety of interesting movies like Raju Ban Gaya, Darr, Baazigar, Kabhi Haan Kabhi Na (still his best) and more importantly, his characters were a clear reflection of the aspirations that came along post liberalization. After DDLJ, his characters were more of an escapist fantasy, particularly for NRIs who tried to delude themselves into believing that they were still close to their homeland, that they could wear 3$ Gap t shirts and go to temples on tuesdays and so on. In that transition, some people felt betrayed. It’s also that every different thing he tried post DDLJ was a failure either commercially or qualitatively, most damningly both at the same time.

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  6. SRK had his days. I am not his fan and never have been. Yet its difficult not to acknowledge his days. He became a household name in the nineties due to highly successful romcoms like DDLJ, DTPH and KKHH. Then from 2001 to 2007-8 he was The prima donna of Bollywood without any competition. Salman faced a creer slump, Aamir took a break and did too few movies and Hrithik failed to live up to expectations after his momentous debut.

    But the problem with his legacy is the shelf life of his films. His romcoms from the nineties (inclusing DDLJ) has not aged well. And during his prime (2001-07) he had success in films that one wont want to revisit these days.

    Not interested in dick or height measuring debates, but where Aamir wins the race (despite his slowness) is the shelf life of films. Aamir has delivered 10-15 films that is qualitatively evergreen. And even if his LSC fails and he hung up his boots after that, his legacy and films will endure a long test of time.

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    • SRK like Rajesh Khanna in the past made hay when the sun shone by flogging the rom-com horse till it was viable. The problem with relying on romance & romance alone is that once you’re past your prime, the genre’s no longer effective as younger stars like Ranbir & Shahid were ready to take over the mantle. Amitabh in his prime was much more than just an angry anti establishment action hero with successful comedies like Hera Pheri & Namak Halaal as well as a tryst with romance in Kabhi Kabhi & Silsila. SRK unfortunately just never had anything really going for him except romance & once he was past 50, this genre would no longer work for you. Most of his experiments like Dil Se, Asoka, Josh, Swades (unfortunate flop, his best film yet by miles), Paheli etc fell flat on their face. He’d have done well to revisit his anti hero Baazigar/Darr avatar later on in his filmography but by the time he signed Fan & Raees, it was far too late. Even with them, Fan had a bogus second half while Raees fell flat due to poor writing & character development.

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      • True, Srk has capitalized so much on the romcom genre that a reinvention of his image has turned out to be too difficult in recent times. He now has 3-4 films lined up back to back. Its likely that some of them may work at box office to some level; but none seems like a gamechanger for him, at least on paper.

        What he needs is a solid hit in an elderly role. Something like Dangal – something that will give enough fuel for a second innings.

        Aamir on the other hand seems to be concentrating on life without films with him in leading roles. Producing and directing next gen stars may well be the way forward for him.

        https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EnZg3Y_XMAA0d8s?format=jpg&name=900×900

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      • tonymontana Says:

        Romance itself is a genre isn’t viable with a generation for more than a decade. How people perceive romance doesn’t remain static, for every generation has their own understanding. That is why comedy remains evergreen. There’s a reason why today’s cinema fans identify more with films like Angoor, Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron, Golmaal and Andaz Apna Apna rather than DDLJ or Maine Pyaar Kiya

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        • To his credit, Srk had success as a romantic star for 2 decades or so. That is no small feat. What helped him is that there has been no other big romantic star in Bollywood since Srk.

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          • Modern day romance is not as viable a genre as it was through the 60s, 70s and 90s. There’s little scope for a Rajesh Khanna or an SRK in today’s times. Among the limitations of the genre, Ranbir & Shahid have the maximum appeal with regards to the boy next door romantic hero image with films like Jab We Met, YJHD, Kabir Singh and ADHM.

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    • There are many things that SRK did right and Aamir did not and vice versa.

      Stalwarts like SRK need an independent look without any comparison what so ever. Pathaan is set to break opening record.

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      • Blind fanaticism of SRK does not change the fact that he’s nothing beyond a romantic hero and its only among a foolish audience like our’s that a rank over acting hamming artist ends up becoming a super star.

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  7. How times change. Ten years back the net was abuzz with srk fans’ arrogant debates about how great their idol is. But in last 5 years or so they have accepted fate and moved on. Srk himself took an unnecessary break, but is back to trying to manufacture a hit with the 300 cr War director, Hirani or a successful southern masala director. Doesnt seem like that he is aiming for a Bachchan like comeback in an elderly persona either.

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    • And its not a dig at srk fans. Aamir fans have also moved on. So much discussion on Aamir during Dangal. Now most of the fans are inactive or dont care. It will be 5 yrs since Dangal that LSC releases. And i doubt if it will be big in post covid world, probably an average grosser and a decent enough film. The Khan fan club has grown old and as Naveen says the Khans dont excite the craze like before.

      Its lucky for the Khans that the next gen stars also dont excite that much craze inspite of being around for a while.

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      • tonymontana Says:

        We can say the city audience has moved beyond Bollywood with the advent and rise of social media. The fascination with a Hindi film hero has subsided. Now besides their southern counterparts, there are Hollywood films, OTT content, and YouTube stars to compete with. Needless to say, the options are many, varied, and, in many cases, much better than the former.

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        • You can add the lockdown and ssr controversy to the reasons for reduced enthusiasm for Bollywood and its heroes. They will face the heat once biggies start releasing in 2021. Laxmii was lucky to get OTT release. A theatrical release wud have been a sheer embarrassment at box office in such times. They will need good movies to get audiences back to theaters. Mediocre masala with faltoo herogiri wont sell in such tough times.

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          • Salman Khan who excelled with bigger blockbusters in the same romantic genre as SRK with MPK, HAHK & HDDCS reinvented himself with action/comedy masala films post 2010. Even he’s a more versatile superstar than SRK!

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          • Salman Khan also had a far worse and far rough phase than SRK did in the 00s till Wanted, with only No Entry, MSK and Partner counting as hits, one of which had him only in an extended cameo. All three were multi star comedies too, his flops were countless around this.

            HDDCS is not a blockbuster by any account, if so, Devdas ought to be a blockbuster too. MPK was a big hit but definitely not bigger than even KKHH. No dispute about Hum Aapke Hain Kaun.

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          • MPK is miles ahead of KKHH in terms of all India theatrical footfall as well as ROI. Check the archives of FI. Even Border and RH are well ahead of KKHH.

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          • Border, RH were domestic ATBBs but with the overseas factor (which was once the major strength of SRK, but didn’t make a difference post 2010 and was diminished greatly post Aamir’s China and Turkey successes), most of SRK’s films made it to the highest grossing films of the year. In terms of WW gross, from 95-’04, the highest was an SRK film except in ’96 and ’99.

            About MPK and KKHH, I could find only some data about both:

            Maine Pyar Kiya (1989)
            Budget: 4 Cr
            India Gross: 23 Cr
            Overseas Gross: 4.5 Cr

            Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998)
            Budget: 14 Cr
            India Gross: 63 Cr
            Overseas Gross: 28 Cr

            They seem roughly comparable to me, MPK is higher at domestic while KKHH is equivalent at WW gross.

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          • So called overseas blockbusters (barring genuine one’s like Raj Kapoor films in USSR, Mithunda films in Russia & now Aamir films in China) do not even account for a million theatrical footfalls. So lets just stick to domestic tally instead of fooling ourselves with blind gross numbers. MPK is daylights ahead of everyone except HAHK and in fact its almost at par with DDLJ in all India theatrical footfall (over 4 cr for both films).

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  8. Very few actprs can become stars.
    When the do then then they must defeat the actor.
    An actor is like a good cinema while a star is like a masala cinema.
    It is very difficult to get a masala movie. Its rare. Its one or two movies an year deal. Same with star. People in India forget cinema but never stars. Stars needs to be treasured and appreciated.

    SRK became star early on. He remained star for a very very long time. His comeback attempt is also to remain a star.

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    • Stars have charisma, screen presence. They are made for big screens. When they come, they light up the dark hall filled with people. Only lucky ones get this privilege.

      SRK is the lucky one. His films will be remembered because it had SRK.

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      • This is where Marcus, Shivaay and many others completely misread SRK. They do not know the star because they havent witnessed the big screen lightening every season. Their connect with the unknown audience sitting next to you. Their charm on the lady infront of you. The mass hypnotism on you.

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        • I have watched half a dozen SRK films on the big screen and as you must be knowing by now, I’m perhaps the biggest advocate of big screen cinema on this entire forum. Its you whose unable to fathom SRK’s extreme limitations as a performer and his pathetic filmography that’s not aged well even among his core fanbase of bubbly high school/college girls & Ekta Kapoor watching aunties.

          Liked by 1 person

      • The films will also depreciate in value and mostly entertain SRK fans or fans of co stars. I don’t think SRK will bring ‘new’ or ‘younger’ fans in any more. His fan base has been locked and shrinking for years now.

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        • Very few brings new and younger fans.
          Generation changes.
          None of our kids are going to become fans of Ashok Kumar or Dilip Kumar.

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          • Romantic genre itself is timelined to the actor’s age. Di Caprio quickly snapped out of it. SRK actually had 25+ years of it. He only had to evolve through the process of a star but now it’s like a revolution he needs. His next movie should have been Hirani. Guaranteed success and then he could choose next moves.

            Liked by 1 person

  9. 🙂

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  10. Very well written piece AnJo:
    Three things sttod out for me in your piece-
    1.If there’s any film that needs to be shown to budding film-actors as to how not to ham, it is SRK’s performance in this film.( true that )

    2. If he can better Dilip Kumar in a half-commercial but very grim movie like Shakti, ( I think both were equally good, partly because DK had a stronger role , no bettering here IMO)

    3.the scene when he walks toward Manisha and Meeta Vashisht on his engagement day. That walk, that walk toward Manisha shook me like anything when I first watched the movie. Of course, it was Mani’s umbrella, but that bloody spoke made the umbrella sturdier, richer!
    Totally agree, Dil Se… has been my Fav movie of SRK besides Swades and RNBDJ .
    Aside: Contrast the scene which you mentioned by the horrendous somewhat similar scene in ADHM.

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    • Thanks Rocky. On point 2, it is just that DK had already devolved post his outstanding stint till GANGA JAMUNA. His mannerisms and trying to steal the thunder from an actor opposite him with unnecessary physical gestures like scratching his fore-head or eye-brows or resorting to plain high-pitch delivery of dialogues.
      Credit goes to AB that he never tried to play one-upmanship in SHAKTI. The scene where Bachchan reaches out to Dilip holding his hand and they exchange NOT a single word, is stuff of classics!

      I agree with you that Dilip’s role was stronger, both in terms of its depth and arc. Losing a son, and wife, and getting churned between principles; that is a fertile ground for any good actor.

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  11. A post! Not needed but thanks Munna.


    SRK’s stardom has not at all waned as Naveen mentioned. For one, he’s kept himself in the lime-light and has multi-tasked as a sports-team owner, a producer, an investor in technology, and of course, rumors. His film post-ZERO, I at least am confident, if released in theaters, will have folks thronging to the theaters: Now if it is his romance genre, people like me will stay away but his fan-base will turn up anyway; however, if it is not his usual genre, but something different, than folks like me would be glad to turn up. That’s why I rushed to watch DEAR ZINDAGI on the first day hoping that a film with Gauri Shinde would be to SRK what English Vinglish was to Sridevi. But he ended up messing it with his penchant for looking good and hiding his age with a beard and more importantly, falling back on his mannerisms in each and every scene! In a most SRK-the-star unlike film, he ended up playing SRK the most!! That was truly disappointing – for me at least.

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