BIRTHDAY SPECIAL: Shah Rukh Khan Means Love. Real Love.

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What’s the one probable thing linking a German schoolteacher, a Russian industrialist, an Indian student and a Dutch painter? What could such diverse people, from completely different walks of life, milieu and geographical locations possibly have in common? The answer, most probably, is a love for Bollywood, and for one man in particular… Shah Rukh Khan.

Shah Rukh Khan. The man who literally came from nowhere, and soon enough took over one of the biggest film industries in the world: Bollywood. A man whose charisma, wit and charm is unparalleled. A man whose mere mention causes worldwide frenzy.

A man like no other…

My love affair with films and Shah Rukh Khan in particular (both are synonymous, see) began nearly two decades ago. I remember watching ‘Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge’ at the tender, impressionable young age of five at Mumbai’s Eros theatre; staring with rapt attention and wide-eyed wonder at the screen. The object of my affections was a scrawny, brown, unconventionally handsome and heroic young man.

Whatever the hero, Raj Malhotra (the excellent Shah Rukh Khan, personifying love itself) did, I lapped up hungrily. When he stared deeply into Simran’s eyes – I sighed. When he smiled his eyebrow-bouncing, dimpled smile- my heart beat just a little bit quicker. My pulse raced as he single-handedly fought off the villain’s goons, getting soaked with ketchup-consistency blood in the process. My fuzzy, childlike brain did its rendition of “Aww!” when he, bloody and battered, allowed his amour to hug him despite the act causing him much physical pain. When he recited those saccharine sweet dialogues highlighting the Indian morality, my mind concurred without question.

To my naiive five-year-old self, Shah Rukh Khan WAS love. He stirred emotions in me I didn’t quite know how to express at the time. All I knew was, “Mummy: Shah Rukh Khan my faaaavourite hero!” Little did I know that that meant I was already in love. At the age of five.

Cut to a year later, I had the immense good fortune of meeting the man! In the flesh!

My family was out to dinner at one of Mumbai’s most posh Chinese restaurants (Nelson Wong’s China Garden, in case anyone was wondering). Just as we were done with our meal, and exiting the restaurant, in walked Shah Rukh Khan and his entourage of friends. Dressed in all-black, the minute SRK stepped into the restaurant, there was a palpable air of excitement. A gaggle of kids, myself included, raced to where he stood, eager to get closer to the man we all idolised.

Shah Rukh Khan, ever the charmer, interacted with each young person; chatting with us, smiling, laughing, teasing us as he signed our autographs (too bad there were no camera phones and instagram to document this historic moment) When my turn came, Shah Rukh Khan – the man of my dreams, the hero I’d fallen so hopelessly in love with – smiled at me and asked for my name to sign on an white tissue napkin clutched in my expectant but tight fist. I blurted out the name my parents had so lovingly chosen for me; but in all my shyness, it had sounded something like “Nnnnnphhh!” SRK chuckled, kneeled down, and whispered to me: “Darling, tell me your name so I can sign this autograph for you and you alone.”

I melted.

He gave me a reassuring smile. Looking deep into his chocolate brown eyes, those S-shaped eyebrows arching above them like a gilt-edged frame on a lifetime masterpiece painting; I said my name, loudly and clearly. Even spelt it out for him so there was no ambiguity. Shah Rukh Khan scrawled his famous moniker at the bottom of the note, looked up at me and gave me the widest grin. He then ruffled my hair, and I swear I felt like time had just stood still.

I didn’t wash my hair for a month.

Real People. Real Love.

Like me, there are countless other people whose lives SRK has touched, in some way or another. And our lives are all the better for it…

Manisha Kumar, Netherlands-based student:

“Dearest SRK,

First of all, I’d like to wish you a veryyyyyy happy birthday. I know getting messages from fans isn’t something new, but I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you from the bottom of my heart for the movies you’ve acted in, for the zillion of interviews you’ve given, for being the awesome person you are. I love you so much, I can’t even describe in words.. I just feel it. You genuinely make me happy. Thank you so much. Itni shiddat se aapko paani ki koshish ki, lekin kisi bhi zarre ne hummein milane ki saazish nai ki. But, one day. I’m sure.

Wish you tons of happiness, more blockbusters, much love. I love you a lot.”

Supriya Dhurka, Bangalore-based banker:

“Shah Rukh Khan is someone whom I have loved since the time I have known the meaning of bollywood…someone who made me go awwww with the 1st time I saw him in front of me by sneaking into a tv shoot….my all time love shahrukh khan who will be with me forever<3 thanks a lot for that charm and make us believe in love and beautiful life since our childhood :d”

Gaurav Sondhi, marketing head of a Dubai-based company:

“Dear SRK. Every once in a while one person inspires another to do something great. Very rarely does one person inspire a billion plus. Thank u and happy birthday”

Divya Anand, Bangalore-based soon-to-be-bride:

“Shah Rukh Khan: I love you.. PLEASEEEE come for my wedding!”

Runcil Rebello, Mumbai-based writer:

“Here’s wishing @iamsrk a very happy birthday, on the same day that I celebrate mine. Wish you the best of luck ahead!”

Kkanchan Mittal, Delhi-based PR firm employee:

“Well, he was standing next to me at an airport. He found me cute and pulled my cheeks, only to let go off me as my mom appeared.. since he was smoking alongside and mom didn’t like that. The sad thing- it happened when I was just a couple of years old, having no memories of it, of course. But I wish if this incident happens now. I’d be over the moon. 😀 Oh yes, he was shooting for Baazigar that time! :D”

Manisha Katti, Bangalore-based student (whose birthday, incidentally, is just a day before Shah Rukh Khan’s):

“I really love you, SRK! Want to meet you at least once in my life and hug you!! Happy birthday, may God bless you with everything you want in life. Lots of love!”

“Itni shiddat se maine tumhe paane ki koshish ki hai.. ke har zarre ne mujhe tumse milane ki saazish ki hai… Kehte hain, kisi cheez ko agar dil se chaho, toh poori Qaaynaat usse tumse milane ki koshish mein lag jaati hai.”

Come on, Universe! Do your thing! Bring Shah Rukh Khan to me, to you and to all of us.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY SHAH RUKH KHAN! WE LOVE YOU, WE ALWAYS DID AND WE ALWAYS WILL!