At some point in the past, sometime after getting into law school, I had occasioned myself to ask why I or for that matter, anyone else, ever liked Shah Rukh Khan. Because while I would like to believe that the penchant for deifying film stars is a custom exclusive to Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, AP and Kerala, the fact is, Khan has remained.
I had the answer a year or so ago when I watched DDLJ again, and I have the answer now that I’m watching Veer-Zaara (I’m afraid my eyes are going to get stuck in rolling position).
What many people don’t know is that its actually easier to act when you’re playing a serious or a melancholy role, especially if it’s not supposed to be melodramatic; rather than when you’re trying to be comical or silly or romantic. I hate to burst that bubble, but the fact is, melancholy and serious does not really need the facial expression and body language that comic, silly, romantic, or even stupid requires. At the most basic level of acting, it’s easier to be sad than to be happy and have people buy it.
The amazing thing about Shahrukh is that he can make jaded, cynical, apparent ball-busters like moi quirk a smile, even as I try not to. Everyone seems to think that his prowess as an actor can be seen in Chak De or Swades. While I agree that those are two non cringe-worthy films in a myriad of ones that make me want to puke, its my opinion that his capabilities are most obvious when he does silly romantic shite that makes people cringe just after they catch themselves smile just a wee bit.
The fact of the matter is, Shahrukh has managed to make a career out of largely successful commercial films that are generally too melodramatic to be taken seriously (with good reason), all of which are in one or the other surrounded by love stories. In this lies the secret to his success. While doing these films, he has managed to come up with one of the best “whipped and happy”, “whipped and sad”, and just plain “whipped” look I have EVER seen on the silver screen or anywhere else.
You know, that look that all of us girls are always waiting for in Romantic Comedies and Chick Flicks – the moment when the guy realizes he loves her, the moment when he first gets jealous of the other guy, the moment when he watches her walk away because of some assholey thing he did moments before realizing he likes her, the way he looks when he sees her walking down the aisle. Many of us girls want that. I personally just have a LOT of fun watching them be whipped. It’s why I like songs like “Cecelia”, “The Reason”, “Laid”, “Iris”. I LOVE groveling guy songs, and I LOVE watching them be whipped, and then be sad, and beg and plead. Watching from a distance as a guy grovels is for me, as good as it ever gets without alcohol, chocolate or hallucinogens.
And Sharukh has mastered the “whipped” look and made it into an art form. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that somehow, his face, while not handsome at all in the conventional sense, is eminently suitable for just such a look. But either way, he has it down, and it’s why no matter how stupid the film may be, I’ll still not be able to help but smile and then cringe when he falls in love, or watches the girl dance in slow-mo, or watches her throw a hissy-fit in slow-mo, or watch her do anything in slow-mo, and then makes the whipped face.
At least, that’s the explanation I came up with.
BTW – finished Mort, The Scarlet Letter and Catch-22 – all unbelievably awesome – and have just started with English, August. 🙂