I’m the Indian for all ages: Shah Rukh Khan

In 2023, the actor returned to films with three back-to-back blockbusters Pathaan, Jawan, and Dunki.

Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan greets fans at his residence Mannat in Mumbai on June 10, 2023. (Photo by Sujit JAISWAL / AFP) (Photo by SUJIT JAISWAL/AFP via Getty Images)

By:
Mohnish Singh

Calling himself “the Indian for all ages”, superstar Shah Rukh Khan on Wednesday spoke about the personal and professional challenges he faced in the past five years and thanked fans for turning up in hordes to watch his films in 2023.

The actor was speaking at the CNN-News18 Indian of the Year 2023, where he was presented with the titular honour.

“I don’t feel like the Indian of the Year. I feel I’ve been the Indian of all the years gone by. I will be the Indian for all the years to come. I’m actually the Indian for all ages…

“Loads of you came to watch my films. Some of you may have not even liked them but I hope deep down inside you came there to support me and my family. I bow down to you and thank you for bringing cheer to my family and making me the star I am, yet again,” Shah Rukh said in his acceptance speech as he dedicated the award to his family.

After a string of flops, Shah Rukh took a self-imposed sabbatical post the release of Zero in 2018. Tough times hit home when his eldest son Aryan Khan spent 22 days in jail after being arrested in connection with the Mumbai cruise drugs case in 2021.

Following Aryan’s arrest, the family was under intense media scrutiny, and was the subject of much speculation and innuendo but also received ample support from fans, industry friends as well as colleagues. In 2022, Aryan was cleared of all charges.

Shah Rukh, 58, spoke about how life hit him at a time when he was also going through a professional slump.

“The last four-five years have been a bit of a ride for me and my family. I’m sure for some of you also because of Covid. Most of my films flopped, lots of analysts started writing my death knell.

“And then, at a personal (level), a little bit of bothersome and unpleasant things also happened, to say the least, which made me learn a lesson: keep quiet and work hard with dignity,” he added.

While he called himself “impetuous”, like a modern-day actor, and someone who may take bad decisions, Shah Rukh said he believes that goodness begets goodness.

“I’m a guy who’s hopeful and tells happy stories. The heroes I play do good things, they give hope and happiness. If I play a bad guy, I make sure he suffers a lot, and that he dies a dog’s death. Because I believe goodness begets goodness and badness deserves a kick in the backside.”

Quoting the popular dialogue “Picture abhi baaqi hai mere dost” from his film “Om Shanti Om”, the actor said it is during the testing times that one needs to be a hopeful, happy, and honest storyteller.

“Think of it as a nasty plot twist, not the story you are living. And 100 per cent that’s not how stories end,” he added.

Shah Rukh also said he signs films on the spur of the moment, without thinking about the box office performance.

 

“I just say yes to a film. Then, I stay awake all night because I’m futuristic. And wait for someone from the future to come and tell me ‘Bro, this is a bad decision’. More often than not, nobody comes and I wake up in the morning, I’ve signed this film and I’m doing it,” he added.

There are thousands of people behind the success of his films, Shah Rukh said as he named his Jawan music composer Anirudh Ravichander, who received the Youth Icon Award at the event.

In 2023, the actor returned to films with three back-to-back blockbusters Pathaan, Jawan, and Dunki.

But Shah Rukh said he hadn’t made a “comeback” to the movies.

“It’s not a comeback, it is actually the reiteration of the fact that I belong and should continue to act and not learn pasta and pizza,” he said.

The actor, who made his film debut with 1992’s Deewana, also said he was now “hungrier” as that’s what one has to be if they have to keep doling out entertainment year after year for 140 crore people.

“It’s been a long time since I won an award. I had started thinking that I was doomed or destined to win one of these lifetime achievement awards at these loud and colourful TV award shows which unfortunately I’ve also hosted,” he said, adding that he was “hungry” quoting his character Vikram Rathore from Jawan.

Shah Rukh also had an interesting conversation with his Dil Se director Mani Ratnam, who was presented with the Indian Of The Year Award (Entertainment).

The actor said he was ready to do “Chhaiya Chhaiya”, the train song from Dil Se, this time on a plane if Ratnam and he were to work on another film.

Ratnam, then, said he would have to buy a plane first, to which the actor replied that the way his films were performing at the box office, it would not be a big deal to buy one.