The Indian Express recently published an excerpt of an interview with Shah Rukh Khan where he says that it is unfair to compare Bollywood actors to Meryl Streep. This was pertaining to Streep’s speech at the Golden Globes, urging Hollywood to stand by the US Press in the face of Donald Trump’s misogynist, classist and racist presidency. The speech led to Indians on social media wondering when Bollywood would stop walking shoulder-to-shoulder with our country’s politicians and actually speak up about the issues concerning our society.
To this, Shah Rukh says, “What Meryl Streep spoke about at the Golden Globe Awards is related to what’s happening in the US, something she believes in, and has a comment to make. Before any journalist starts comparing, is there a similar situation here that you want me to speak about? No. If there is a situation that is different, I am sure people who want to speak will speak differently.”
Having worked in a tabloid and attended a film school, for me it was a difficult process of juggling questions about an actor’s process of working on a film with who they were dating currently
I agree, when Khan says that journalists use actors’ opinions to tweak into their own story and there is a rat-race of breaking the news first, getting the most clicks. Having worked in a tabloid and attended a film school, for me it was a difficult process of juggling questions about an actor’s process of working on a film with who they were dating currently. As for the latter, I felt that the question was completely inconsequential to the copy, so I simply stopped asking it.
Having said that, Shah Rukh Khan, who is a producer, actor and businessman, knows the drill of the game. Actors approach the media all the time when they have to promote their films, they are busier than all of us and so, inadvertently late. That one 5-10 minute slot a journalist gets, he asks a multitude of questions. If an actor goes off on a tangent, he is stopped, because within minutes, the PR will be rushing in to escort the journalist out, whether he likes it or not. I have often found the experience harrowing and dehumanising.
If an actor goes off on a tangent, he is stopped, because within minutes the PR will be rushing in to escort the journalist out whether he likes it or not. I have often found the experience harrowing and dehumanising
I am not speaking on behalf of all journalists. Sometimes, I am downright baffled by the questions posed. Like last week while attending Rishi Kapoor’s book launch, a woman asked the actor, “So, how many female fans do you have?” I sat cringing in my seat wondering if most journalists are perceived to be so smitten by stardom that they literally ask the first thing on their mind.
Khan proves me right, “More than the platform Streep used for speaking, she had the platform where people understood what she said… Like I have said before, journalists are not used to stardom — theirs as well as celebrities’. Suddenly, everybody looks better, does better make-up and the anchor is the star of every show. The editor is the star of every snippet. Everybody writes an article with a picture. Everybody is trying to lose weight, look nice. When I was seven years into stardom, I used to behave like this.”
I have loved Shah Rukh Khan from before the time I knew my alphabets. If I ever get the chance to interview him, I wouldn’t be doing my job, I would be fulfilling a childhood dream
Yes, a journalist gets starstruck. But that’s because we want to selfishly inhale a part of your exuberance, your personality so that we can write about it. I have loved Shah Rukh Khan from before the time I knew my alphabets. If I ever get the chance to interview him, I wouldn’t be doing my job, I would be fulfilling a childhood dream. That is a part of a star’s enigma in a country where Bollywood is in every fibre of one’s being.
So yes Mr Khan, just as there are good and bad actors, same with journalists. But it is our job to ask uncomfortable questions, and yours to trust us to put forth your view in the best way possible.