King of Bollywood

Shah Rukh Khan and the Seductive World of Indian Cinema
by Anupama Chopra
ages: adult
First sentence: “Dreams come true in Dalton.”
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!

First off, a disclaimer: four years ago, when I saw this on the shelves, I took a look and said, “Hmm… could be interesting.” But, since my older two girls and I have been on an Indian Cinema bender lately (don’t ask how many movies we’ve watched in the last month…), I put a hold on this one. M read it in one sitting, devouring information about Shah Rukh. I took it a bit slower.

It’s basically one of those Hollywood tell-all biographies; Chopra did sit down an interview Shah Rukh and those closest to him, so it’s an “authorized” version. Reading it reminded me why I prefer memoirs over biographies: I like hearing the stories by the person themselves, rather than being interpreted through someone else. That, and questions I had (like: why is his name Shah Rukh Khan when his dad’s last name was Mohammed? Why did he change it? When did he change it?) weren’t really answered.

That said, even with the meandering and slightly clunky writing style, it was a fascinating look into Indian cinema. To explain how Shah Rukh became the massive superstar he is, Chopra felt it necessary to explain the history of Hindi film, and with that, a bit of Indian history as well. Some really interesting stuff. That’s not to say that Shah Rukh isn’t fascinating: the amount of naked ambition he has is boggling. And yet, he’s an incredibly down-to-earth individual (or at least Chopra made him seem so). Additionally, he’s a halfway decent actor, if a bit on the goofy side. Other than that, there isn’t much to say about this book.

Good for those who are slightly obsessed with Indian cinema.

6 thoughts on “King of Bollywood

  1. I loved “Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge”, and have since watched several of his movies. I just caught part of “Dilwale…” on a movie channel years ago, and ended up buying the dvd so I could see it in its entirety. I've been a fan of Indian cinema ever since. This book looks interesting…


  2. M says:

    I found you through the POC Challenge Link-Up. I'm participating too (via Twitter/Goodreads, I don't have a blog).

    I'm a lifelong Hindi cinema fan and love SRK. I haven't read this book though I've seen it around in various bookstores. You may be interested in a British documentary produced a few years ago (when he was working on Main Hoon Na and Asoka) called The Inner/Outer World of Shah Rukh Khan. Both sections are available in full on YouTube (search for “The Inner World of Shahrukh Khan” and “The Outer World of Shahrukh Khan”). There's still a lot I'd like to know about him even after watching that, but it's still quite interesting (I particularly liked the focus on his family). The trailer for it is here:

    Also, his father's full name was “Meer Taj Mohammed Khan” so his last name was “Khan.” There was a trend in India in the 1950s/1960s for Indian Muslims to drop their last name and use their family nickname or other name as a last name (this explains why, on my dad's side, none of my cousins and I have the same last name, though we should technically). So what might have happened is that even though SRK's father's full name was “Meer Taj Mohammed Khan”, he may have dropped “Khan” to be known as “Meer Taj Mohammed.” But then what happened with this trend is that people started realizing they wanted to continue on the family name. (In my family, the youngest son took on the family name, whereas everyone else used other names they had been given at school or nicknames, etc.) Since SRK is his parents' only son, my guess is he reverted back to including “Khan” in his name to carry that on. It also doesn't hurt that “Khan” is a pretty popular last name in the Hindi film business! Anyway, hope this helps!


  3. M says:

    Another non-book resource (unfortunately, there aren't many well-written books out there on this subject) are the “Koffee with Karan” interviews. Shah Rukh Khan was featured on three or four different episodes of the show. Those are also all available on YouTube.

    Ok. I'm going to stop now. 😉


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s