The Baadshah of Bollywood Shah Rukh Khan, who has enthralled audiences for over two decades with his larger-than-life films, believes a ‘perfect life’ is nothing but a ‘farce’. “There is no perfect life. It’s a man-made idea and we are buying into it all the time. There is nothing more beautiful than life’s imperfections,” said Khan. And the actor has managed to handle any imperfections quite, well, perfectly.
Consider that at 50, the superstar continues to be the brightest star in Bollywood’s firmament, a fact underscored by his top position in the 2015 Forbes India Celebrity 100 List. While speaking at IIMBUE, an alumni event of the Indian Institute of Management-Bangalore (IIM-B), on December 11, Khan, who raked in around Rs 257.5 crore from movies and endorsements in the year, launched the Forbes India Celebrity 100 issue. This is the second time that he has graced the cover of the magazine.
His enduring success makes him an appropriate speaker on leadership, the subject of his talk to the audience comprising IIM alumni. The actor said that life is all about chance and that he is “a living proof” of it. “I wanted to be a sportsman and represent India in hockey or cricket or just an athlete. But then I hurt my back and didn’t have the means to get the best treatment in the world,” said Khan.
Having failed in sports, Khan joined a theatre group. It was by sheer chance that his real estate broker helped him bag a lead role in a television serial. Khan’s celluloid career took-off in the late 1980s with the television serial Fauji that aired on Doordarshan. “One thing led to another and I became a movie star,” said Khan, adding, “No one can teach us how to find destiny or chase it. Just like disaster, it will come your way.”
While Khan admitted he was no “guru in creative leadership”, he did have some words of wisdom for the IIM-B alumni. “You need to conquer the real world; do the things you didn’t want to do. Only then will you be in a position of choice to do what you wish to do,” said Khan, who cited his career as a case in point. When he entered Bollywood, Khan said he told every director and producer he met that he would not do romantic films. “I told them I’m not going to star as a poor college student chasing a girl whose father is rich.”
But he had to soon swallow his own words. In 1998, at the age of 33, Khan was the lead actor in the super hit film Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. The lead character Rahul Khanna had the very traits he had vowed not to enact on screen. “The film was good for me and I realised it (romantic roles) was something that I could do,” said Khan.
The actor, whose 2014 film Happy New Year amassed over Rs 200 crore, says he never counts the crores at the box office. “I’ve never set out to earn a particular amount or compare my worth with someone else. I would go as far as saying that quantifiable goals are indeed illusions,” said Khan. ‘Goals’ limit one’s ambition and desire, he added. “I don’t mean to say one should not have goals, instead call them milestones. Think of them as a passing moment of excellence.”