BRAND IT LIKE BADSHAH
What is the first thing one needs when s/he decides to pen down a book? A topic. But just any topic won’t do. The topic has to be new or it must dare to say something new about an issue that is not so new. But when you set out to write a book on King Khan just where do you begin and where do you end. How do you say something which has not been said before?
Author Koral Dasgupta in her book Power of a Common Man - Connecting to Consumers the SRK Way has daringly set out to do the same. Through her book, Dasgupta is attempting to tell the story of Shah Rukh Khan’s relationship with his fans/followers/consumers by applying theories of consumer behaviour.
Instead of focusing on academic theories that textbooks are stuffed with, she has chosen a lively approach towards helping readers understand how consumer behaviour really works! And she attempts to tell it all by presenting SRK as the commodity. The megastar, businessman, brand ambassador, cricket team-owner and much more has sold dreams too through his blockbuster movies and his consumers have lapped it all up with unflinching loyalty.
The book also makes an attempt to explore how SRK became the sole claimant to Amitabh Bachchan’s legacy though at this stage Dasgupta prefers to stay absolutely tight-lipped about it. That is something the readers can find out as they flip through the pages of the book. All that the author is ready to reveal at the moment is, ‘There were others in the industry who trusted that SRK is 1990’s answer to Bachchan and brought such projects to SRK that would put him in for a direct comparison. SRK certainly did not shy away from the challenge and plunged in with his characteristic innocent aggression! Certain things “happened” with Shah Rukh Khan which did not for Salman Khan or Aamir Khan or Hrithik Roshan though these actors were no less deserving!’
Dasgupta is convinced that people are sensitive about King Khan. Whether it is love or hate, there is no middle ground for emotions. ‘People are passionate about loving or hating him. I have interacted with many SRK-haters in social media, and trust me, they talk endlessly to convince that SRK is bogus! There is no other actor who can engage even his haters to this extent,’ the author says. Perhaps that is what makes SRK such a successful brand — the intensity of emotions he evokes in people.
Dasgupta’s analysis shows that Shah Rukh Khan has been successful in reviving old brands or giving them a new face. Be it the Lux advertisements or simply the remake of Don, Khan never disappoints his consumers whose love for the megastar continues to grow. The author says that though she is not sure if SRK was trying to claim Bachchan’s legacy through the remake of Don but it is sure that consumers liked what he served.
‘Trying to do an Amitabh Bachchan for the first time had huge risk of being ripped apart. But what is important is, we, his consumers have accepted that Don has another face. I am saying this because of the box office figures that the film has generated. SRK’s Don had a different generation of takers and it was a nice way of reintroducing a cult film to a generation who may or may not have experienced original Don. The remake also points out what a magnanimous capacity the film has because of which it could communicate successfully to the audience of two different decades and convince each time that “Don ko pakadna mushkil hi nahi, namumkin hai”. The film was also a nice way of reminding people across the world about the original; most non-Indian viewers may not have seen Bachchan’s Don in 1970’s. However, most of those who have seen both films would agree that Don still belongs to none other than Amitabh Bachchan,’ Koral says. For those who believe that SRK sells dreams, Koral says nobody can be forced to consume anything. ‘Who doesn’t want to believe in the world of dreams? SRK is a voice to the dreams that are your’s and mine and everyone’s. What’s wrong there,’ the author questions.
Dasgupta is confident that what her book wants to say about SRK has not been explored so far. ‘You may have little left to say about SRK who is an actor or father or husband or sports enthusiast. But have you ever considered him as a brand? He is one such marketeer who has sold almost everything in the endorsement space! He has sold a mediocre film like Chennai Express for Rs 400 crore. There must be something to consider there, which have not been explored about him already. There was a guy who told me he hates SRK. I asked him whether he watched Chennai Express and he said he did, after which he hated him even more. I was surprised that this guy had been to the theatre even after hearing the review from his friends. There must be something that the actor is doing to drag his viewers to the theatre; even negative word of mouth can’t hold back his audience from buying a ticket! That’s what I have explored. I have tried to analyse his marketing genius through my book. We, SRK fans have adored him for last 25 years. Why not learn from him some techniques which are just too relevant to survive in this world,’ the author says.