Shah Rukh Khan completes 30 years in Bollywood: Will he regain his stardom?

Shah Rukh Khan completes 30 years in Bollywood on Saturday (June 25). He debuted with ‘Deewana’ in 1992. Today, his name no longer holds the significance as it used to. Make no mistake, he is still one of the best-known Indian actors on the planet, but he is no longer the trusty box office performer and critical darling he once was in his heyday. His last few films — ‘Zero’ and ‘Jab Harry Met Sejal’, for instance — have either been reviewed well by critics or commercial successes, but not both. 

He does not seem to be able to hit that sweet spot between critical reception and love of audiences that was inherent in nearly every movie he used to do.

So what happened?

There are mainly two reasons, in my opinion, for the decline of the brand that Shah Rukh Khan.

Also Read: Shah Rukh Khan sweetly apologized for coming late to ad shoot, recalls cinematographer

Rise of Salman Khan

The first reason is the rise of Salman Khan, which came at the cost of SRK. The current status of Salman is said to begin with 2009’s ‘Wanted’, in which the Bhai of Bollywood pioneered the formula that made him one of the biggest Indian stars. 

Salman’s hero in ‘Wanted’ and subsequent films was a self-assured man who could fight like a martial artist, crack jokes like a comedian, and look, well, like a movie star. In short, he was a complete package. No room for things like vulnerability or character development here.

SRK, on the other hand, either could not do or, and this is more likely, would not do it. He has excelled more at emotional vulnerability and has never been much of an action star.

Also Read: Presenting to you Shah Rukh Khan in and as ‘Jawan’, first teaser out- Watch

Rise of writing-oriented TV shows and movies

One other reason for SRK’s decline is the popularity of writing-oriented (as opposed to star power-oriented) movies and TV shows through mainly OTT platforms. Since the ‘star’ of most movies and TV shows on services like Netflix and ZEE5 is the content, the story, SRK has struggled to adjust. Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Manoj Bajpayee, Pankaj Tripathi, among others are the most sought-after actors right now. It is not that SRK’s star power has disappeared or even diminished. It is very much there but does not matter as much as it used to.

Will SRK make a comeback?

He absolutely can. Earlier he was known mostly as a romantic hero but he challenged himself by taking up less glamorous roles like in ‘Raees’ and ‘Zero’. Also, he is still an excellent actor as apparent in movies where his abilities have been tested (‘Swades’ and ‘Chak De! India’ come to mind) and he can shine in the OTT space too. He has multiple projects lined up for releases like ‘Pathan’, ‘Jawan’, and ‘Dunki’. If these movies star SRK the actor and not SRK the film star, fans are in for a treat.