10 Things We Love About Shah Rukh Khan — That David Letterman Just Discovered in ‘My Next Guest’

Shah Rukh Khan My Next Guest 1
[Photo Source: Screenshot / Netflix]

Once upon a time, in a faraway land (the mothership, India), there lived a girl who was so enamored by the incomparable Shah Rukh Khan that she memorized his dialogues in every movie, ripped his photos out of magazines everywhere she went for her scrapbook, sobbed bitterly every time he died onscreen, and valiantly fought off comments and critique that were even faintly disrespectful to the man she believed to be the love of her life. And she knew, even then, she was just one speck of Shah-dust in the entire universe of people that love him just as dearly. Fast forward to 2019, and the woman (fine, it’s me) loves him no less, and was not surprised to learn that he has a global fan footprint that runs 3.5 billion people deep. Sheesh. I didn’t NEED to meet him I guess. *sobs bitterly*

But, I digress. SRK brought his usual glory, complete with candor, sarcasm, humor and his trademark charm to a special episode of David Letterman’s “My Next Guest”. He now has the potential to earn a whole slew of new fans and shed light on the popularity and impact of the Indian film industry with global audiences. I for one (and the 3.5 billion other specks of Shah-dust) wholeheartedly celebrate this epic point in his celebrated and highly public career.

In his honor, here are the 10 things we love most about Shah Rukh Khan, that David Letterman just discovered in this new special (streaming now!):

1. His (often self-deprecating) humor and sharp wit

Referring to the SRK level of fan worship he witnessed on his trip to India, Letterman admits that he had never experienced anything like it. When Letterman refers to the sheer size of his fanbase, SRK promptly replies “We procreate a lot, there’s a lot of us”, twinkling back at the amused host. At one point, Letterman says “I am on medication”, to which Khan responds “I could tell as soon as I saw you”.

Close to the end of the show, SRK and Letterman do an impromptu dance performance to which SRK quips: “Dave, this is not ‘Chicago'”, when Letterman does the Charleston dance and ALMOST veers into jazz hands. Throughout the show, he had Letterman chuckling and in many cases bursting into laughter. And he had the audience eating out of his hands, of course.

2. His dimples!

The moment where Shah Rukh Khan talks about how the women in his life finding his dimples to be very “sweet”, elicited whooping cheers from the live audience, to which a startled Letterman asks rhetorically, “It’s like this wherever you go, isn’t it?”. Lightly poking at his cheeks, SRK quips back “The dimples?!”, which of course, had the audience and Dave cracking up.

3. His extreme candor

Shah Rukh Khan - My Next Guest Gif
via Giphy & Netflix

Talking about his inconceivable level of stardom  (which he openly admits to enjoying), SRK responds to Letterman’s question “How long do you want to be the hero of the world?” with “106 years”, gleefully grinning at the audience, and they collectively answer for him, “Forever!”

Nothing less would have done, says Khan, in his humorous and charming way, but being perfectly serious!

4. His level of petty

Shah Rukh Khan, trying to be politically correct when asked of his (and India’s) opinions on the current President of the United States, was EVERYTHING. He calmly states that the U.S. was once thought of as “the place to be”, but is now considered as an “okay” place. He finishes with a flourish to say, “maybe you guys deserve it!”

Referring to an altercation SRK had with a journalist who wrote a caustic and controversial article about him, he laughingly says he spent a few hours in jail, and then went over to the journalist’s house, and lit up a cigarette, so the journalist knew that SRK was well within reach!

5. He was Bollywood well before he was Bollywood

Shah Rukh Khan My Next Guest 1
[Photo Source: Screenshot / Netflix]
Of course SRK is asked about his real life Bollywood love story featuring his wife, Gauri Khan, which he discussed in detail, peppered with embellishments of picturing her slow-motion running towards him. But his affinity for Bollywood-level of emotional atyachar was revealed when he recalls threatening his mom, who was in the ICU, with dire consequences (ways in which he would be a terrible son) if anything bad happened to her and if she left him. One of the many times in the show, when he amused the audience during a poignant story.

6. His love for his fans

Khan wryly admits to being “an employee of the myth of Shah Rukh Khan”, larger than life, because people need him to be. He reflects on the love he’s received from his fans, and expresses his desire to meet as many of them as possible in his lifetime. Ummm… Main yahaan hoon, yahaan hoon, yahaan hoon, yahaan, Shah Rukh!

7. That eyes closed, bashful grin when he’s particularly amused

David Letterman, upon finding out that SRK cheated on a Hindi exam, so he’d get a perfect score and be taken to watch a movie as a reward, wonders what effect this stunning admission would have on the 3.5 billion fans, and perhaps the numbers were dropping rapidly. Dimpling back at the veteran talk show host, Khan says cheekily,

As Americans do, I’ll publicly apologize, and be forgiven.

8. He is who he is, no matter where he is

Throughout the show, whether in the portions recorded in his home in Mumbai, and those recorded in front of a live theater audience in New York City, SRK seamlessly transitions from a sharp black suit and vest to a plaid shirt and white t-shirt, to simple white kurta pajama all the while being exactly who he is. There are no affectations, no weird accent changes, he is totally comfortable referring to Indian pop culture, Bollywood references, and sharing his opinions succinctly, if a tad bit irreverently. He even repeats back a comment from a Punjabi taxi driver, and describes his “Ramleela” theater experience in childhood, saying dialogues like “Bolo siyapati Ramchandra ki jai!”

9. Shah Rukh Khan is the (stereo)typical Indian dad

Shah Rukh Khan 2 My Next Guest
[Photo Source: Screenshot / Netflix]
When Shah Rukh talks about his kids, he is every Desi cool Dad. Totally willing to cook for his kids in the middle of the night, and stalking the kitchen phone line for the opportunity to do so. Drawing ketchup smiley faces onto his son’s food. Grimacing at the fatherly duty of discussing “boyfriend/girlfriend” problems, with somewhat violent remarks and gestures about his daughter Suhana’s boyfriend!

He fully admits he wants to be a helicopter Dad, but in the same breath claims to respect their privacy. He openly tells the world he doesn’t think his son can act, although he looks “nice, tall and okay”. But throughout this interview, he expresses how much of a better human having his kids has made him.

10. His devotion to his parents

One of the best known non-secrets about Khan, is his deep love for his parents. In a matter-of-fact way, he admits that his father was a failure as an attorney (and a success as a freedom fighter) because of his unwavering honesty. He speaks with Letterman of the time he had with them, and the time he lost with them due to their untimely deaths, with a certain wistfulness, and rawness that is so endearing.

[Read Related: ‘Darr’ at 25: Revisiting the Iconic Romantic Thriller & its Unforgettable Villain]

David Letterman ended the episode by saying he often reflects back on episodes of the show and his guests as “Smart, lovely people from whom I have learned things”. But then he says, with an air of seriousness, “And you would be at the top of that list.” The speck of Shah-dust in me, sighed a beautiful sigh of inevitability.

You’ll always be at the top of my list as well, Shah Rukh. Now excuse me while I drift into a Bollywood fantasy of SRK raising his arms and slow-motion running.

‘The Romantics’: Revisiting the Legacy and Grandeur of Yash Chopra With Filmmaker Smriti Mundhra

The Romantics

If you are a South Asian, born in the ’80s or the early ’90s, chances are your ideas of love and romance are heavily influenced by Hindi films — that first gaze, the secret love notes, that accidental meeting somewhere in Europe, over-the-top gestures and dancing around trees. While reality may have been far from what was promised on reel, you still can’t stop pining over a hopeless romantic, with chocolate boy looks, chasing you across the earth and many universes; in the life here and the ones after. Somewhere deep down, you still dream of that possibility despite your husband sitting and sipping his morning coffee right next to you. And much of the credit for weaving this dreamland, that we can’t resist happily sliding into, goes to the legendary Yash Chopra. Award-winning filmmaker Smriti Mundhra’s docu-series, “The Romantics,” that released on Netflix on February 14, chronicles Chopra’s prolific career; offering an illuminating look into the highs and lows of his journey, his unblemished vision for Hindi cinema and sheer love for filmmaking. 

I wanted to look at Indian cinema through the lens of it being a major contributor to the global cinema canon and Yash Chopra seemed like the perfect lens to explore that because of the longevity of his career and the fact that he had worked across so many different genres. His films, for so many of us, defined what Hindi cinema is.

— Smriti Mundhra

As “The Romantics” unveils, in a mere episode — a challenging feat in itself — Chopra did experiment with multiple genres as a budding filmmaker, initially under the shadows of his elder brother B.R. Chopra. From the religiously sensitive “Dharamputra” and the trendsetting “Waqt” to the action-packed and iconic “Deewaar.” It wasn’t until later on in his career that he set a precedent for a Hindi film having a wholly romantic narrative; though “Waqt” did offer the perfect glimpse into what would go on to become Chopra’s cinematic imprint. And then came “Chandni” which ushered in a new era for Hindi cinema; defying the formulaic approach to box office success and making love stories the golden goose.

In the words of more than 30 famous faces, a host of archival videos and interviews, and personal anecdotes, audiences get an extensive insight into the life and career of Yash Chopra and the evolution of his vision through the business acumen and genius of his polar opposite son and a famous recluse, Aditya Chopra. “The Romantics” is not a fancy portrait of a legendary filmmaker but an exploration of what goes into making a successful film family and a path-breaking production house. As viewers, we not only get a peek into the making of a fantasy creator but also learn of the many failures, hurdles and uncertainties that the business of filmmaking comes packaged in, the impact of socio-political shifts on the kind of content being produced and demanded, and just how much control we have as an audience over the fate of the film and the filmmaker.

For both the uninitiated and fanatics, there are some interesting revelations like Shah Rukh Khan’s lifelong desire to become an action hero as opposed to a romantic one and the creative conflict between Aditya Chopra and his father Yash Chopra on the sets of “Dilwale Dulhania Le Jaayenge” — a project that, surprisingly, did not seem too promising to the latter. Mundhra penetrates deep into the family’s history and industry relationships evoking some really candid conversations; almost as if these celebs were eagerly waiting for their moment to speak. With one appraising interview after the other, it’s a panegyric that does border on being a tad tedious but there is enough depth and fodder in there to keep one hooked. Kudos to Mundhra for managing to achieve cohesion despite there being more than enough material to chew on. In the process of bringing this project to life, Mundhra also ends up achieving a number of milestones: one that the series features the last of actor Rishi Kapoor’s interviews and two, it brings Aditya Chopra, who, it appears, can talk a blue streak contrary to popular belief, to the front of the camera after almost two decades. The moment when he puts the nepotism debate to rest by referring to his brother’s catastrophic attempt at acting is quite the show-stealer.


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At some point during the four-episode series, you might question if it’s fair to credit the Yash Raj family for being the only real changemakers of the Hindi film industry and for picking up the baton to get Hindi cinema the global recognition that it has. But then there is no denying the Chopra clan’s body of work, their ability to understand what pleases the crowd and their commitment towards growth and progress amidst changing times and technology — Yash Raj Studios is in fact the only privately held and one of the biggest, state-of-the-art film studios in India. Chopra’s career and legacy are in no way under-lit that Mundhra can claim to throw new light on with “The Romantics.” But what she really has on offer here are sheer nostalgia, some fascinating discoveries and an ode to a cinephile and his art with a bit of fan service.

In an interview with Brown Girl Magazine, Mundhra discusses why it was so important for Chopra to be the subject of her docu-series, her own learnings during the series’ research and creative process and her accomplishment of getting Aditya Chopra to talk, and that too, at length.

By Nida Hasan

Editor by profession, writer by passion, and a mother 24/7, Nida is a member of Brown Girl Lifestyle's editing team … Read more ›