Author Shrayana Bhattacharya On Shah Rukh Khan: SRK Is A Female Icon But Not A Feminist Icon

Published:Nov 23, 202308:57
Author Shrayana Bhattacharya On Shah Rukh Khan: SRK Is A Female Icon But Not A Feminist Icon

Shrayana Bhattacharya’s debut as a author was one for the information, her e-book ‘Desperately Seeking Shah Rukh’ broke all information however greater than that resonated with ladies throughout the nation who're making an attempt to carry on to somebody who isn't just an actor or a public determine however somebody who has many instances acted a beacon of sunshine within the lives of those ladies. 

There may be an simple attraction that Shah Rukh has in him, a attraction that also lights up any room that he walks into, any display screen that he's proven on. The e-book which simply accomplished a yr of its publication shouldn't be an autobiography of the phenomenon that's SRK however is a saga of a number of Indian ladies who're his followers. 

Excerpts from the interview-

When and the way did you suppose that you may use Shah Rukh as a parameter to analyse the lives of Indian ladies?

Shreeja, if anyone had mentioned to me 15 years in the past as a result of this e-book relies on 15 years of analysis, that I'd write a narrative about ladies within the Indian financial system by the lens of SHA Rohan, I’d roll my eyes and say get out of here. That’s unattainable. But seems that’s exactly what I did. What occurred was in 2006, I used to be in my early 20s, I used to be despatched to a low-income neighbourhood in Ahmedabad known as Bapu Nagar the place we have been doing surveys on ladies who have been, you understand, the a part of the precariat making incense sticks or however these and garment employees at house, incomes a couple of quarter of minimal wage, and my job was to take a really typical economist questionnaire and ask folks about their wages working situations.

This was researched as half of a big consortium of advocacy for girls within the casual financial system led by ‘Seva’. And once I confirmed up, all these ladies regarded extremely bored once I began asking them these questions as a result of they informed me they’d met women like me with kohl of their eyes and sporting khadi kurtas, and I realised I wanted to do one thing completely different.

So in analysis, they educate you to make use of icebreakers, proper, so I began asking all these ladies who their favorite actor was, and lo and behold, all over the place I went, for these analysis tasks on ladies in our precariat, from, you understand, the slums of Ahmedabad to the forests of Jharkhand, to the villages of with their predations you see within the e-book, all over the place I met these ladies, very like me, who have been completely beautiful Shah Rukh Khan and I realised as soon as I began to ask these ladies about why they appreciated Mr. Khan, or how they watched Him or how they interacted along with his iconography, immediately, these have been actually highly effective tales concerning the financial system, as a result of all these ladies began telling me about how they didn’t have sufficient time.

In order we all know, ladies are time-poor in India, I describe the time poverty of ladies, they don’t have sufficient time for leisure or enjoyable. They didn’t have unbiased earnings, or buying energy to only watch their favorite actor. And I realised this as I made a decision to only proceed following a subset of those ladies for greater than a decade. And that really was a really stunning means for girls to speak about males’s cash markets, and marriage, with out it being this very conventional stuffy social science method. And so the e-book is what it's. It’s very a lot a e-book of economics, as I believe you talked about, however Mr. Khan is my analysis methodology.

It’s been so a few years since SRK stepped into the limelight. What do you suppose actually labored for him?

Oh, I can inform you that just about everybody I've interviewed and I’ve interviewed so a lot of his followers. I imply, those featured within the e-book, but additionally simply followers who present up outdoors Mannat. I used to go yearly for the massive birthday celebration. I described this on the finish of the e-book as a result of I used to be inquisitive about you understand, who’s standing outdoors, and why are they standing outdoors. And there are literally very stunning, compelling tales as a result of lots of the folks standing there aren’t significantly nicely off. You realize, it prices cash to be there. And but they love this actor a lot. And I can inform you, all of them are obsessive about the thought of what's coming in 2023 and I’m tremendous excited. I’ve been watching trailers.

I imply, as for what works for him, I believe there’s a lot that’s been mentioned about his icon, I really feel in actual fact, and I say this within the e-book, he’s the very best one who tells the story about his icon. I imply, he’s simply certainly one of our most, you understand, articulate celebrities. I believe it simply modified the best way superstar tradition labored in India. But one of many issues that basically I choose up within the e-book is that, significantly for girls, given such a deeply patriarchal society, so many ladies who continuously really feel second-guessed about their ambitions about how liked they're, ladies are continuously informed that you'll want to behave in a sure method to a patriarchal line, proper?

Be lady, then you'll be liked, proper you'll want to you'll want to leap by all these social hoops to earn love, as I described within the e-book, you understand, males earn cash, and ladies love that kind of the division of labour in our society. And so after they see this actor who's whose icon is nothing however love, you understand, the extensive open arms, it’s really a surprisingly deep psychological reduction for lots of ladies, we’re coping with numerous constraints, you understand, of their entry to public area, feeling unsafe, this type of surveillance on ladies’s our bodies.

So I believe the love within the iconography that he represents, that basically appears to connect with ladies who really feel very unloved and insecure of their on a regular basis lives. And I described this within the e-book that as actual life disappoints, you understand, his icon simply grows bigger and bigger.

So I believe that’s one thing that’s actually vital. And the opposite factor is, he very a lot represents a narrative concerning the financial system and social mobility. And whenever you see this within the e-book, so lots of the ladies and men will say to me, that, you understand, he made it with out community wealth, proper, in an trade that's thought of to be a really insider membership trade. And he very a lot represents the story of India’s financial increase, proper? He’s a primary post-liberalisation celebrity.

Within the 15 years of your analysis work, you’ve come throughout individuals who don’t actually recognize him that a lot so what are their opinions like and what are their complaints?

So firstly, I've little or no persistence for individuals who don’t like him very a lot. So I'm tremendously biased, as I’m very clear about it. But I’ll inform you what, and also you see this in, you understand, the chapters are many of those kind of low-income ladies and middle-class ladies and even, in actual fact, the elite higher caste ladies within the e-book, which is that wherever there’s a Shah Rukh fan, sometimes there's a father, brother mom, who’s feeling a bit uncomfortable about why this younger lady is so obsessive about this actor. And I believe a part of it's many males I interacted with would say, you understand, he actually does deviate from a really stoic masculine trope, proper? He has a really completely different masculinity than what existed up to now and I believe he actually broke the mould.

Anupama Chopra, the great movie critic, you understand, who was interviewed in my e-book mentioned to me, it’s the primary time we’ve ever seen an actor, increase a helicopter and but, you understand, lower greens within the kitchen. And I believe it’s a really completely different masculinity, which some ladies I imply, numerous ladies appear to search out deeply interesting.

And but there are some males, particularly, I discover who is probably socialised in believing on this means. After which you might have the standard, you understand, the more westernised elites who will say, nicely, it’s a foolish Bollywood movie. And you understand, one of many hopes I've Shreeja is that, I believe, even for individuals who dismiss Hindi cinema and standard tradition, I believe you realise what a robust position it performs as language as launch proper as enjoyable and pleasure within the lives of individuals whose lives are so harsh, daily, and I hope that individuals who even dismiss Mr. Khan’s icon for being sloppy and excessively romantic and no matter, you understand, no matter realm they need to kind of come from, they learn the e-book and so they realise that really, it’s enjoying an important emotional perform for lots of ladies on the market.

Over again and again, you’ve spoken about how Shah Rukh has actually ruined the romantic emotions {that a} lady has, ought to have, and the way he redefined masculinity. So can we discuss just a little about that?

Yeah. I imply, you understand, there was an exquisite story. It was within the news, I believe, a couple of years in the past a couple of younger lady who mentioned that Shahrukh had romantically ruined her as a result of she felt like she all the time needed a sure sort of very Yash Raj movies, you understand, a Karan Johar movie proposal. And what’s fascinating about that, although, is ultimately she proposed to her boyfriend.

I imply, that is, you understand, the story is, I believe on the market for anybody to see. And she or he adopted the position of Shahrukh and he or she serenaded her associate and suggest marriage to him or no matter else. And so it’s fascinating that I believe whereas numerous these younger ladies have seen him and he’s actually modified the best way the trope of the male hero, proper, what he appears to be like like and the way he behaves. What’s fascinating is I all the time say this within the e-book, so many of those ladies, they don’t need to marry Shahrukh. They need to be him. They need his confidence, his financial gumption. They need to have the ability to love as unabashedly as his characters do. Proper. And I believe that’s a that’s very fascinating as I noticed that by the e-book, however the different purpose, I believe, you understand, he appears to have actually impacted everybody’s romantic expectations, at the very least the elite the ladies and middle-class ladies I converse to, I do suppose ladies from the precariat engaged as a result of iconography very in a different way, however for the elite and middle-class ladies, I believe it’s very a lot the truth that this was a person in his movies, who was continuously listening to ladies.

So I'd continuously hear from ladies that, you understand, have you ever seen how he talks to the mom and the girlfriend as a means, you understand, and there’s a means these characters have interaction with ladies’s emotions. They acknowledge ladies’s emotions, they have interaction with their wants. The truth that you understand, I measured, for instance, it’s there within the e-book, how a lot ladies converse in his movies relative to ladies talking in different massive hits of Hindi cinema with different actors.

And unsurprisingly, statistically talking, as nicely, ladies simply converse rather more. So his movies have more room for girls’s phrases, and their emotions and I believe as a consequence, so many younger ladies noticed that imagery and thought I ought to I deserve that, proper? Like, I deserve a person who will take my wants and my have to relaxation my want to precise myself rather more significantly. And I believe that’s, you understand,  it’s kind of elevated a sure sort of expectation.

And I believe that’s actually had an affect on what ladies anticipate on this kind of, you understand, legendary preferrred man. But I do need to say that I believe within the e-book if there’s one factor I need the reader to grasp is all these ladies, it’s not like now we have some foolish crush on a celeb. I believe they’re all in search of males who will have interaction and reciprocate home labour, and emotional labour and assist ladies’s ambitions. And I believe they see that in him.

Since we’re at it, I actually should ask you, when did your tryst with Shahrukh actually start? How far do you go?

I’m a really typical city Indian fan, which is I believe, you understand, I describe myself as you understand, I’m born within the early Nineteen Eighties. We have been the primary technology of ladies who claimed Mr. Khan as a result of he was our celebrity he got here onto the scene once I was a teen and, and I watched him in ‘Baazigar’, which in all probability is the worst type of his to begin with, as a result of you understand, he’s actively harming ladies and stalking them. And there’s every kind of, you understand, horrible gender behaviour happening, which one has to kind of acknowledge? And and I believe this connects again to your earlier query about what some folks say after they don’t like him, I believe many individuals clearly discuss among the gender scripts in his in his movies. And I do encourage folks to only learn the e-book to see how completely different ladies kind of see these scripts considerably in a different way. It’s fascinating. So I all the time say he’s a feminine icon, however not a feminist icon exactly due to this, proper? So watching these movies, or very younger age could not have been the very best concept. But I believe it was round then. But I have to confess reader, and I believe it is a very once more, that is the place I’m very typical.

So many English talking followers would inform me, they love him due to his interviews, and I’m no completely different. You realize, he was one of many first superstars who got here onto the scene and was so accessible to us by so many interviews. And once more, it goes again to financial reform, as a result of he got here on at a time when immediately satellite tv for pc televisions due to modifications in regulation simply began to proliferate, proper? Channels like yours. And, and what, what that meant was that I might come again house and swap on the TV, and so they wouldn’t be essentially exhibiting a music of yours, however an interview of his, and he felt very intimate to us, as a result of he would discuss his financial struggles, his private struggles, his personal anxieties he simply opened up and he has such an exquisite facility with interacting with the media, proper. And so to me, really, I really do suppose that the tryst with him actually, I believe my fandom very a lot began not solely with the movies, however will all these interactions that one noticed, proper, like previous interviews. So there’s that. But I believe from the 15 years of analysis, my fandom for him has been burnished in a means due to the best way I’ve seen different ladies who've very completely different from me, don’t come from my privilege come from very completely different backgrounds, seeing the best way they work together with him. And do you see him proper and what he means to them? I believe I believe my love for him and I appreciation for him has simply grown a lot, rather more, simply by the method of the analysis as nicely.

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