I often get the most baffling response when people realize I'm a huge Shahrukh Khan fan. "But he's old now," they say. How age plays in here, I will never understand. Nobody yaps about David Letterman being too old to have fans, do they? Must everything be reduced to sex appeal? Not that SRK doesn't have any. On the contrary, I would argue he still has enough of it to woo the entire country, and then some. And on the day he turns yet another year older, I'm here to tell you why I think he's as relevant today as ever.
SRK's evolution in the film industry has been an interesting one. He went from being a starry-eyed outsider to the undeniable superstar of his generation. And a decade or so later, things seem to have changed. He's been doing fewer movies, and the ones he has picked up of late, haven't managed to leave a mark in contemporary cinema. I've had many people explain to me how he's a has-been. But if he's so unimportant, why waste your precious time discussing his career choices at length? The truth is, it's impossible to not have an opinion on the man. You can love him or hate him, but indifference? Nope. And that's the power he still commands.
The same media companies that criticise his movies get their numbers and clicks from having his name in the headline. They dig their archives for magazine shoots and interviews from back in the day, knowing how hungry his fans are for an unseen snippet. On 2nd November every year, radio stations dedicate whole shows to celebrate his birthday. I don't reckon they do that for the actual singers of those songs. That's the allure of SRK. He can help you escape to a world full of romance and charm through a voice that's not even his.
I believe that his journey in Indian cinema is far from over. In fact, it's only a matter of time before the second phase begins. Whether that turns out to be true or not, it's indisputable that he is, and always will be, relevant. The release of Pathaan, also starring Deepika Padukone and John Abraham, marks his return as a leading hero after more than four years. The country and his fans wait with bated breath, regardless of how his last few films have done.
If you don't believe me, drive down to his house today. If you're able to count the number of people standing there, waiting, hoping to catch a glimpse of him, I'll take my words back.