Shah Rukh - the global superstar with no global ambitions


By Arpana

New Delhi, Feb 11 (IANS) Shah Rukh Khan hasn't featured in any international project so far and strangely enough doesn't want to do so either. But you'd never know that from the screaming crowds that greet the Bollywood actor wherever he goes - London or New York, Antwerp and now Berlin.

His movies may not be the greatest cinema, and he isn't known as Indian filmdom's greatest actor either. But Shah Rukh Khan's brand of entertainment has made him a global superstar - with no global ambitions.

"There is no place for me in Hollywood or in European cinema. I would like to work in Indian cinema and take it to the outside world," the 40 something actor has said.

The star power was more than evident when people from all over Europe descended on Berlin this weekend to see their favourite star making an appearance at the Berlin film festival Berlinale for the screening of his latest "Om Shanti Om".

It was the same at London where the film had premiered, with hysterical fans lining the red carpet to catch just that one glimpse.

All ironically for a film that has been dismissed as trite by many critics, and whose satire can appeal to only someone familiar with Hindi cinema of the 1970s.

But clearly the six-pack abs and the song-dance-drama combo that is so much of a part of Hindi films was enough to wow even audiences unfamiliar with the nuances of Hindi cinema. Not just the diaspora.

The actor, known as King Khan with some even comparing his popularity to the pope, was overwhelmed with the response in Berlin.

"I have been working in the Indian cinema for the last 17 years and it is the first time that I feel like a big movie star," the actor was quoted as saying.

Eros Entertainment, a film distribution company that has handled many Bollywood blockbusters in Germany, is going to release "Om Shanti Om" in Germany with 50 prints. Clearly, not all meant for an NRI audience. In fact, tickets for the show at the festival sold out in an incredible seven minutes.

Last year, he cast a spell in Belgium, visiting Antwerp as ICICI bank's global brand ambassador.

It could all be because India is going places, or just because of a certain appeal. Either way, this is the Shah Rukh moment in time.

He has been going strong at the home front too. Shah Rukh churned out two back-to-back big blockbusters -- "Chak! De India" and "Om Shanti Om" - and turns to television this year with two game shows.

He will host "Bade Hue to Kya Hua", which is formatted on "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader", a US-based game show featuring adult contestants facing questions picked directly from the textbooks of first to fifth graders.

Produced by Siddharth Basu's Synergy Adlabs, this is Shah Rukh's second game show for the company after the hugely successful "Kaun Banega Crorepati 3" (KBC) for the same channel.

He will also be seen in the new season of KBC.

According to the sources in the advertising agency, his income from endorsements fetch him Rs.1.5 billion a year, the highest for any "model".

"Brands are made by the conventional way of working hard. I never worked in a special manner to build my brand. I just worked hard," he has said.

The Badshah of Bollywood is also a costly celebrity guest, charging Rs.10 million ($250,000) to just grace a function.

Shah Rukh paid an advance tax of Rs.270 million (over $6 million) on his estimated income during the current financial year of 2007-08, but a major share of it has gone into paying for his income from endorsing a slew of products and other sources.