Writers, Do You Have Shah Rukh Khan Syndrome?

If yes, you need to get rid of it to keep your fans

Shah Rukh Khan (Image source: MyNation)

I hate Bollywood movies, but when it comes to the three Khans — the Shah Rukh Khan, the Aamir Khan, and the Salman Khan — I’m the first one to book the tickets.

I just love to see them, whatever they do. But not everyone loves them. Last week, six of our friends sat down for movie time. I was stunned when no one, all of them once his true fans who would run 50 miles just to get his autograph, was willing to watch Shah Rukh’s movies — especially after his recent flops.

One of them even left the room when I ran one of his old movies.

Being a marketer, I got curious about why, him being a superstar, still, his movies flopped, and worst of all, his true fans almost became his haters. When I thought about it, I spotted some valuable lessons that especially apply to writers.

Here they are.

Don’t Always Focus on Yourself

In all of Shah Rukh’s films, 90% of the focus is on him only. For example, in two of the good movies, Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham and Kal Ho Naa Ho, they have co-leads, but the whole movie mostly shows what Shah Rukh Khan is doing (even him scratching his nose — really).

He is shown as the only protagonist. And that’s wrong. We audience don’t want that. We all are open to new people in the industry because we know that nobody can be Shah Rukh Khan. We want to see the combination of the two co-leads, and we want to see the twist the two co-leads make or go through. We want to see their combined work, maybe to compare our hero Shah Rukh in our mind to the other lead actor.

What does this mean for you?

Don’t fear including other’s experience in your writing. Don’t just worry about adding your own experience or insights. Funny as it seems, but we actually trust your friend’s opinion/advice/experiences more than yours as a writer. Okay, I mean, if your friend advises you on something, and you follow that and see immense results, we trust that rather than if you advised us about something without even trying it or mentioning where you got that knowledge from.

Give Your Audience What They Actually Want

SRK is always experimenting with different types of movies (sometimes even hurting the quality) and producers. But his audience doesn't accept this. SRK is king to his fans. We want to see that Shah Rukh who is a little dramatic, somewhat comedic, overly romantic but a gentleman. We don't want anything else other than that.

What does this mean for you?

Your wish to experiment doesn’t mean you can hurt your reader’s expectations. You are known for something (which you might have built after long, hard work) so just stay with it. Sure, you might want to give a new taste to your readers sometimes, but if they don’t like or accept it, please don’t. If you want to experiment, go to some other platform.

Oh, it seems like this is why Khan is moving towards TV ads. Good move, then. Keep it up.

TV ads by Shah Rukh Khan

Don’t Waste People’s Time

This might be contrary to the last point. However, zooming in, this will make sense. Being a fan of his doesn’t mean we’ll buy anything he has to sell. He is now old. He’s still maintaining his lover-boy persona, and that isn’t what we want to see. Simply adding romance in a movie isn’t going to work all the time. The quality of the movie is what matters more. We can’t bear it if the movie is a waste of time for us. We are tired of seeing him in romantic roles. Because romance doesn’t always sell.

What does this mean for you?

You need good writing. Don’t waste our time. Either educate us or entertain us. If needed, change the way you write, but don’t waste our time.

Even if your writing isn’t good, at least give readers some entertainment so that they don’t feel their time is wasted. You have scope for improvement later on.

Focus on the Story Rather Than Glory

In an exclusive interview with DesiMartini, Shah Rukh Khan said:

“At any given point in time, two considerations go into doing a film. First, am I happy and comfortable in this zone of filmmaking because I feel that way? Second, the people who are making it, are they going to make me happy or are they just going to do it as a proposal, so more often than not when I have fallen trap to a proposal, it hasn’t worked out, neither for the film nor for me. Sometimes, some very good feeling films have also not worked but that’s alright because I enjoyed the process. I try to choose a film where the process is going to be enjoyable and hopefully the results will follow.”

What does that even mean?

I can conclude one thing: He is focusing a lot on working with more famous directors who had previously given hits rather than focusing on the script or the story. Famous directors are famous because they are the ones who always care about their stars, and hence the stars make them famous by working better to then give hit movies.

What does this mean for you?

Don’t just worry about trying to hit big publications and reduce the quality of your work. Stay consistent, tell (I mean show) what you want to, and just don’t censor your thoughts. Let it be out. Don’t share with us your writing just because you enjoyed what you wrote.

If You Don’t Connect With Your Audience, Someone Else Will

Without a good story, the audience doesn't connect with the character, and hence with the movie. Apart from good locations, hot songs, and big celebrities, the story matters a lot.

A few of Shah Rukh’s movies which seriously lacked gripping storylines are:

There was literally no depth in the characters played by him in those movies. Which is bad.

What does this mean for you?

Have emotion and story so that you have depth and readers can connect themselves with your writing. Without that? You’ll turn your readers into haters.

On the other hand, Salman Khan churns out consecutive super-duper hits, even though his acting skills are mediocre.

Salman Khan (Image source: Hindustan Times)

This got me curious. It’s 3 a.m. in the morning, but still, I jumped up from the bed, turned on my laptop, and started figuring out the reason because I can’t sleep when I’m curious.

I found out one possible reason for this could be due to his huge fanbase.
Still, I was curious about the question that remains: Why are people fans of his, even though he is bad at acting?

I got a few answers.

1. He Makes Family Films

He doesn’t usually give bold scenes in order for it to work well or go famous, like other young actors. As we already know, romantic doesn’t always sell.

This means everybody in the family can watch the film together, especially in India where there is a higher population and most of them love to get entertained. This also means more tickets are sold and hence more box office collections.

What does this mean for you?

Don’t simply add anything in your writing just for the sake of writing. Be authentic, be real, be you.

2. He Has a Signature Style

He is bad at dancing, too, but he has something special: charisma. His unique style of dancing makes people say, “Wah kya baat hai, kya dance kiya hai!” which means “Wow, what a dance!”

People are eager to see his new and unique dances in his next movies.

And most of them love to emulate the new style of his dance, or even his hairstyles, in front of their friends to become the Indian definition of cool.

Salman’s fans emulating him (Image source: Hair cut designs 2020)

What does this mean for you?

Do you have something unique that will make you stand out? Or better, that your readers will try to imitate from you? Nope? Work on one.

3. He Appeals to Audience Emotions

He knows how to appeal to the audience emotionally very well. Let’s take the Bajrangi Bhaijaan as an example. The acting isn’t satisfying here, nor even the story. It is based on India-Pakistan relations, which is a sensitive topic, but he has shown us the good side. Hence we are very emotionally attached to it and liked the film very much.

What does this mean for you?

As mentioned already, emotion is what matters everywhere. Make sure you have it in your writing.

4. He Makes Movies for the Masses, Not Intellectuals

Simple storylines → hero falls in love → makes the heroine fall in love through his comic antics → some conflict arises → some action → happy ending.

This gives us entertainment. Unlike other actors, like Shah Rukh, he doesn’t make movies that not everyone can understand. What will we, normal citizens, do with the scientific knowledge of how to go to Mars? Akshay Kumar’s movie Mission Mangal taught us that.

If we get entertained, we almost always don’t need quality movies. He is romancing, dancing, fighting, and there’s a happy ending. And that’s what we want.

What does this mean for you?

Don’t try to be smart by using jargon or complex words in your writing. Ensure that your writing is understandable, even by your two-year-old, and that’s a success.

5. He Has a Great Personality and Familiarity

Salman’s name highlights great personality because he has it. He might not act very well, but his acting is entertaining. He has a very nice nature, too.

Also, he is called Bhai, Sallu Bhai. And Bhai has different connotations in India. Bhai means elder brother in Indan culture, who is powerful, can protect and help. Salman has helped many youngsters to become stars, and they publicly acknowledge this fact.

This patronizing nature of Salman helps him get more familiarity and thus popularity.

What does this mean for you?

Don’t just be good, act good. Show it through your movement. Show it through your presence. Show it through your writing.

6. He Is Relatable

Some people see themselves in Salman Khan.

Salman Khan appears to be an ordinary individual, except for his looks. He is handsome and has a good physique. He has an average height, of 5'6". He has a high school educational qualification (12th). He doesn’t throw around jargon or complex words while speaking, and he is a family man (lives together with his parent and siblings).

What does this mean for you?

Be fearless about making mistakes and be vulnerable, and you’ll turn out relatable to everyone. Don’t try to be smart. Because nobody is.

These are the reasons his movies become big hits, and due to this, he has made such a big fan following.

Summary

Shah Rukh Khan’s flopped movies and disappointed fans gave us a few lessons on writing well:

  1. Don’t just talk about yourself. Give your friends a chance as well.
  2. Give your readers what they actually want, not what you want.
  3. Educate us or entertain us. Just don’t waste our time.
  4. Focus on the story. It helps us connect better.
  5. Have emotions in your writing so that readers can relate to it and connect better.
  6. Fulfill the expectations of your readers. If needed, outperform them, but don’t hurt them.

And Salman Khan’s immense success in spite of mediocre skills got us curious and taught a few things about writing:

  1. Be authentic, be real, be you.
  2. Don’t do what you don’t love. Do what you love.
  3. Don’t just be good, act good.
  4. Have something unique that your readers will try to imitate.
  5. Have emotions in your writing.
  6. Don't be smart, be relatable.

Follow this, and you’ll have true fans in no time.

Written by

My story might not matter but it'll gently touch your interior and remind you how smarter you are. Google forced to include numbers: shajedul.karim.01@gmail.com

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