I am a very recent convert from Hollywood to Bollywood and, until a few months ago I didn't know Shah Rukh Khan (SRK) existed. I read with interest your open letter to SRK and was inspired to respond.
By way of background, I live in the Washington, DC area. I am a trekkie, a LOTR fan, and early in our 25-year marriage when my husband and I went to the video store he chose Love Story while I chose I'm Gonna Get You Sucka. I my youth I worked at a movie theatre for several years and, as a result, got to see lots of movies for free. I currently enjoy documentaries, indie films, and have a subscription to the Spiritual Cinema Circle. We turned off my cable TV subscription and now invest in Netflix.com and a Hulu.com subscription where we watch Once, Supernatural, The Daily Show, and The Colbert Report.
I discovered SRK after looking for something new to watch on Netflix.com. I soon discovered Jodhaa Akbar. Hrithik Roshan who defied the stereotype of the Bollywood actor I expected. Not only was the story engaging and music outstanding, but after doing some research after watching the film I learned something about Indian history. I then moved on to watch Mujhse Dosti Karoge! and Kites (great car chase sequence!), then stumbled on my first SRK film - Veer-Zaara.
And with this introduction to Indian film, I found myself falling in love with Bollywood.
From DDLJ to Daag to Darr to Don; from Chandni to Ghajini (both Tamil and Hindi versions) to Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham to Chak De India; from Ashoka to Mother India to Taare Zameen Par to Lagaan and Ek The Tiger; I was engaged with the stories, the actors, and the music.
And when I watched a movie with SRK in it, I felt like I was coming home. As part of the ensemble, he makes the men more honorable, the women more desirable, and the children more adorable.
When he sang and danced in Kal Ho Naa Ha, I sang and danced along with him. When he traveled across America in My Name is Khan, I walked alongside him. When he remembered in Om Shanti Om, I felt his anger.
At the same time, I cringed a little everytime someone gives his character a musical instrument. As a violist, I find it more believable to see SRK diffuse a bomb than play a violin. Even the film Swades requires those of us who live and work in the DC area and around NASA Goddard to accept some elements that we know aren't quite right.
But I'm willing to suspend my disbelief because regardless of the story, SRK somehow manages to make his characters and relationships truly believable - and the story worthwhile - despite unrealistic plot devices or over-the-top item numbers (dare I mention "Dard-E-Disco"?).
Would I like to see more of Don, Swades, and Chak De India? Yes, yes, and yes. But I also want to experience the heart found in Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, Jab Tak Hai Jaan and RA.one. If Chennai Express offers such a heart (with some action like in Don/Don 2), I'm all in.
Because each time I watch an SRK film, I find myself eagerly investing in a 3 hour movie that will entertain by offering some laughter, some song, and take me on an emotional roller-coaster ride that culminates in the inevitable "happys endings" that Om Prakash Makhija describes.
Well, except for Devdas. I'm still recovering from that one.