Blow hot, and cold

Mind that temper! Dear, fun-loving Shah Rukh Khan seems to be losing his cool big time nowadays. Okay, so any mortal would have in his place, but SRK doesn’t happen to be any mere mortal. He’s a super celebrity, and he will be subjected to provocative tattle, allegations and occasionally, even the truth.

It’s the easiest thing in the world for a star to blame the press for everything from water shortage to slipping ratings. In fact, I thought this Khan, an ideal diplomat normally, wouldn’t ever come to the point of requiring anger management. At the peak of his popularity, he was sane and sorted, given to cracking Alfred E. Neuman “what-me-worry?” style jokes about himself — plus saucy asides about others, which were funny, but never offensive.
A movie baron had been typically tight-fisted at his son’s wedding: Shah Rukh found that odd and re-enacted a scene at the sangeet ceremony, hilariously. And when a director of one of his film productions demanded a Mercedes-Benz in the remote Rajasthan deserts, he got it for him and his wife, who were left red-faced. SRK would travel in a ramshackle car, they in a Benz. He’d wave at them, happily, when his car overtook theirs.
Of course, there have been aberrations. At London’s Wembley stadium, he had to be held back from a fist-bout with a group of British security guards. One of them was being uppity about Asians. SRK would have none of that, the situation could have conflagrated. On being assuaged by his team, Shah Rukh grinned, “Arre, there’s no way I could have fought those bozos single-handed anyway.” And of course, there was that front-paged instance of losing his cool at the Wankhede stadium.
Now news has trickled in that he went into a raging bull state recently — at a couple of journalists. This was at his home, Mannat. Glass objects were broken — I can’t confirm if it was the coffee table or crystalware — and our SRK hit the roof, yelling at them full blast. The paper’s entertainment section had carried an unnamed report about the actor and Gauri Khan opting for a surrogate child. It was said that the couple wanted a gender determination test.
Damaging yes, but the visit of the journalists, who obviously wished to patch up, could have been handled with tact. Why lose one’s temper, not to speak of the crystal or glass which was smashed? One thing led to another, it seems, and a slick-crime-thriller-specialist director who was pointed out as the source of the news, was contacted and upbraided. At the end of it all, the Khan cooled down. Presumably now, all is well.
The story took a couple of days to spread through media circles. When it did, alas, it was shrugged off, it happens. As it has been down the decades. For five years, Amitabh Bachchan had banned the press. When he became interview-friendly, he maintained that the press had banned him. No comprendo, that. Unlike Bachchan, I think SRK has largely had a healthy respect for the press. By and large, he lavishes personal attention on each, irrespective of the circulation of the journo’s newspaper, magazine, website or TV channel.
His PR machinery is ineffective though, concentrating on e-mailing boring hand-outs and non-newsy snippets. The Khan, after a career of over 20 years, has to go about it alone and in his patented style. His behaviour with the newspaper group’s visit at Mannat had a nasty edge. But he did cool down, didn’t he? That’s the asli Baazigar SRK.

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