Shah Rukh Khan must be in a very strange conundrum right now. When it comes to movies, nothing is going right for him. His bigger films are not bringing in the audiences that they used to do, and the risks he is taking are not paying off. It is not easy being in the mind of Shah Rukh Khan right now and we really cannot blame him if he takes a really long break to keep his head cool. But he isn't, as some reports claim that he will be preponing the shoot of Saare Jahan Se Achcha (or Salute) to work harder on the film. For what can be a better solution to get over a massive failure than to do more hard work? Salute: Shah Rukh Khan To Start Shooting For Rakesh Sharma Biopic Earlier Than Scheduled and The Reason is Legit.
Coming to the crucial point of this discussion, what should Shah Rukh Khan do next to avoid another box office stumble? One of the primary accusations that the actor has been facing is that he is stuck doing the role that made him popular before. Strangely, that tactic is still working for Salman Khan and Akshay Kumar. Salman lets his brawn emote for him in nearly every movie, while Akshay is basically a socially conscious version of himself in most of his recent films.
While SRK has difficulty to let go of 'romance' as a genre, it has been some time that he has done a Raj or a Rahul kind of role. He tried to experiment with genres in Raees and FAN, and clearly, that experimentation has clearly not worked for the actor. And Zero's debacle is definitely hurting the most, because if you overlook the overtly negative criticism against it, it is really not a bad film at all. Zero Movie Review: Shah Rukh Khan’s Infectious Charm, Anushka Sharma’s Brilliant Act and Katrina Kaif’s Stunning Performance Win You Over!
And it is not that SRK has started experimenting now, he has been doing that in the past too. His earlier roles in Baazigar, Darr, Anjaam, Maya Memsaab were stuff no one would have dared to touch those days, which is something an Ayushmann Khurrana and Rajkummar Rao would easily pick up these days. Swades was another experiment that people want him to emulate him today, but we forget that when the movie came out in 2004, it was not exactly met with glowing reviews and box office results. Out of all the 'experiments' he tried to do post 2K, it's only Chak De India that worked in his favour.
Now with Zero also not doing any great for Shah Rukh Khan's box office resurrection, what exactly should he do next? There is no clear answer as such, but I do think there are a few lessons that he can still learn from the failure of his most ambitious film.
The superstar may have claimed that he really doesn't worry over the box office success of his films, he is making films just for his fans to enjoy. However, Shah Rukh Khan would be lying if he claims the box office failure of any of his films doesn't hurt him. There is no point in doing films now that will be appreciated in the future, especially when you are standing on shaky ground today. Instead, it would be better for SRK to do a couple of SAFE films that will help him float by. And we can look at his own history, we can see that it had worked for him in the past.
After the mega success of Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, he experimented with genres and faced a series of flops before he found success in Pardes and Dil Toh Pagal Hai, both very safe films. That was the trend then - bubblegum romance. Later, he had the same issue with his home productions. Both Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani, a satire, and Asoka, a period film, failed to impress at BO, but a frothy Chalte Chalte worked. The current trend is either period films, biopics or lighthearted subjects with a social theme. The fact that he is doing a biopic (Saare Jahan Se Achcha) now is the right step in this direction. It is crucial for Shah Rukh Khan to gain his box office popularity back now before he can do his kind of movies. Speaking of which...
Have More Than One Release Per Year
2017 saw Shah Rukh Khan have two releases - Raees, which was a hit, and Jab Harry Met Sejal which was a flop. If Shah Rukh Khan wants to do movies that appease the cinema lover in him, then perhaps he should do one movie like that and then one that is more mainstream. Maybe the year 2004 would be a fine reminder for him when he had two hits in Main Hoon Na and Veer Zara and a flop in Swades, that went on to be an acclaimed masterpiece.
Make Smaller Films With Lesser Budgets
Shah Rukh Khan is a very indulgent producer who seems to have taken a page out of Jurassic Park's John Hammond in telling his directors, 'Spare No Expense!' It is a fine thought to give your movies a larger-than-life appeal for the audience to enjoy on the big screen. But what do you do when such ventures like Ra.One, Dilwale and Zero don't make your audience happy? Go small the next time, and perhaps spend a little more money on a tight script and tighter editing.
Work With Your Old Favourites!
After Dilwale, Shah Rukh Khan had worked with newer directors (another thing his critics wanted him to do) like Maneesh Sharma (FAN), Rahul Dholakia (Raees), Imtiaz Ali (Jab Harry Met Sejal) and now Aanand L Rai (Zero). The results were not upto the mark. There is also a (somewhat valid) allegation that these directors end being so awed by their lead actor, that the movies reflect the fanboying. So it is time for SRK to stop listening to what his critics want to say and start working with his old fave directors like Karan Johar, Farah Khan, Aditya Chopra and Rohit Shetty. I would still want him to give Aanand L Rai another chance. All these directors know what makes SRK tick and tailor their films accordingly. BTW, what is Shimit Amin of Chak De India fame doing these days?
Try A Fresh Pairing!
Shah Rukh Khan's pairing with both Anushka Sharma and Katrina Kaif, while good, is not fantabulous. The movies have also not exactly worked in their favour. So it is time for the Khan to try a different pairing. What about working with Vidya Balan or Tabu (with whom he shared a small scene in Saathiya)? Or returning to romance Kajol again, while we forget Dilwale ever happened? Sure, there is a saying that Shah Rukh Khan can romance even a tree and make it look good on screen. But maybe try a different garden next time?
(The opinions expressed in the above article are of the author and do not reflect the stand or position of LatestLY.)