The King is his own man

When he sees elderly idealistic looking people in the audience, he himself says that he knows he is blamed as the symbol of a decadent culture! In fact I almost jumped with surprise when he said that in one of our IIPM shows, for those were the exact words I heard from my dad just a few hours before entering the venue! Later, he laughed it off saying he knows that’s how parents often look at him! Actually that’s what sets him apart. While most stars in Bollywood wouldn’t have ever used the word decadence in their lifetime, SRK can use it upon himself and laugh! That’s the intellect and spirit that sets the King Khan apart from all his contemporaries. While it often seems he is torn between going the Amitabh way of completely dignified existence or the Salman way of brashness, the fact is that he is just himself. As his supporters vehemently tweeted after the Wankhade stadium incident that he is most caring and soft spoken, specially towards children. He most certainly is. Till he is poked and irked for no reason, he really is the symbol of dignity. His words, like Amitabh’s, are most articulate, well chosen and educated – proof of his education and continuous reading. The way he cares for his kids only people close to him know and others would have got an idea in the way he had his daughter next to him throughout the tournament and not just post Wankhade.

But then, don’t poke him. Apart from his polite and dignified ways and the fact that he is the only other genuine Superstar India has ever produced since Amitabh; there is no similarity between him and Big B. They belong to two different generations. ‘Waise toh Delhi wala hoon aur logon ko ek mukka deke theek karna bhi aata hai’, Shah Rukh had said in jest another time, yet making a point during the launch of our book Thorns To Competition while elaborating on how he did feel like hitting a lot of people when he entered the industry. And candidly admitting he still does! But he can’t, thanks to where he has reached. Or perhaps I should rephrase his words and say he tries his best not to! But truthfully with the number of people trying to pull him down I am sure at times he is human enough to lose it. However, the fact is that the urge is rare. For he knows how to hit back differently. He himself says that to hit back hard, he decided to change the game. He decided to go on a route that no one had travelled before. He even took up bad-guy roles. And that’s how he hits back hard. He plays a game that others are not into and changes the rules of the game – something that anyone studying his career will vouch for. And that’s been his way to hit back this time to his detractors too. The IPL crown. Not at all a fluke. Very intelligently and passionately drawn up victory. Beginning with the choice of Wasim Akram as the bowling coach to the careful selection of the team, its captain to the calculated risk of angering Kolkata fans by dropping the completely finished Sourav Ganguly.

I’m the best! That’s one line he is known by and proudly proclaims at every given opportunity and said to Kolkata fans too: 'I am the god of my team!' He is unabashed about the things he does, for he does things from his heart and with complete passion. And he does good things. He has no pretence to be a social change agent. When people questioned him on why he even wanted to be in the film industry, his response always used to be, 'To make people smile!' His premise has always been clear – he is an entertainer. When they asked him why he wanted to be a movie star, he said, 'I want to be a movie star for my late parents... I want to make movies so damned bloody big that my parents, somewhere up in heaven, can sit on some star and see my movies from there too, and say, hey, we can see his movies from here better than we can see the Great Wall of China... We can see his movies covering the face of this earth.' It’s his own set, standard of excellence. And that’s why he feels that he can’t be beaten, for he has never fought the battle that everyone else has been fighting. That’s quintessential SRK for you. A winner. The man I personally think is the most intelligent, educated, witty and charming superstar the country has in this generation.

He never tells his children that he does films so that he can earn for their future or give them better lives. He tells them that he does films for himself. He does films because he loves it and it’s for his selfish needs. His grandmother used to tell him that every time a camera flashed, it took away a minute of one’s life – Shah Rukh confessed that his obsession with movies was such that he would rather have so many cameras flashing at him that his life ended in a second’s time (this, incidentally, is also the last line of his yet-to-be finished autobiography). That’s how he wants to go... giving the last shot for a film. That’s him. No one says this. They call it decadent culture. He proudly symbolises it and inspires a whole generation.

But, what goes unnoticed behind his marketing blitzkriegs and at times, brash cartwheels is to remain the best, he works every day harder than ever before. That’s how he inspires himself to be the best. And, by saying continuously stuff like he is the best or he is God of his team, he inspires himself to work twice as hard to do things better, just to live up to those lines. He is the first star to openly say this is a real world and we all need to earn, and even that a good earning makes life a lot easier. So he has never shied away from selling his talent. As he says, even life doesn’t come free. It comes with a price tag of death. We are all living with a quest of permanence of youth, black hair and prosperity. And, this is the price tag that life comes with. So it’s important that we accept it and never shy away from going out there and selling our talents. With passion and making it all worthwhile. People tell Shah Rukh that one should not sell art. He says, 'Well, no. I don’t come free... You can buy me! I will do anything that you want me to do. I dance in parties, because I am a firm believer in selling dreams; and as long as what I do brings smiles to the faces of just two people sitting in the audience, I am proud of it!'

But, what we must not mistake is his spirit and call it arrogance. At no point has he gotten so arrogant as to think that he will never fail. In his foreword for one of my previous books Discover The Diamond In You, he wrote an oft forgotten but most meaningful quote, 'Success is never final, and failure never fatal'. That’s perhaps the key attitude that makes a winner. He also wrote, 'Failure gave me an incentive to work harder, an act which invariably leads to some kind of success in most cases. So work hard whenever you fail... Failure is an amazing teacher... In my life, it’s not success that I want as much as I want not to fail.' He is one man who keeps learning from all his failures and keeps moving ahead. That’s how he won the IPL this year after being mocked four times in past – more than the others who didn’t win were. Instead of banning him from stadium, we might as well do better learning from him one thing: winners never quit and quitters never win. Keep rocking SRK!

The author is a management guru and honorary Dean of IIPM Think Tank.
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