At the opening ceremony of the Kolkata International Film Festival in early November this year, Shah Rukh Khan (SRK)  lamented the fact that  he was without a national award  in his CV, despite having invested so much time and energies  in his profession. SRK was in good company otherwise.

Clark Gable went through his forty decade of cinematic career without a Golden Globe or an Oscar. And so did Tom Cruise and Harrison Ford. And so did Rajesh Khanna, Dilip Kumar, and so did dozens of other great artists of international cinema. They never made it  of getting their space in the Hall of Fame of their own film industries.

One cannot have his cake and eat it too. SRK is learning the hard way, that though he may have Tweeter following only a little less than the Prime Minister of India, he is still short of the Moon he craves for.

Until SRK made his public confession on what was missing on his drawing room self, we were happy with the thought that SRK’s career was one of great fulfillments. Age allows me to say that  decades ago when he was on the Delhi stage of Sapru House and  of Sri Ram Centre, we did not foresee this city lad to move  up to such heights. Perhaps his mentor Barry John had also not realized he had a talented brat under his wings who would outdo his guru.

The career graph of SRK does not show he is likey to get a National Award in any department of film production. He has tried his hand as film producer, done a bit of film direction, overdone his acting job, made some duds, become controversial, got drunk publically and beat up a cop,  loved a Hindu girl and married her without  raising eyebrows   and also on his way made millions.  He is a Muslim icon in Europe and the Middle East, and a sort of a ‘gentleman’ of the national government in Malaysia as he is referred to as ‘Datuk’ which is akin to a ‘Sir’ in British royalty; he has been in the film industry for now three decades and done 70 films, but the National Award  for films has still eluded him. National Awards are not dependent on the box office receipts or how the film critics may write on the suggestions of the corporate PROs.

Still self deprivating himself, SRK told Mamta-di and her Bangali fans, that he was always called in  big official functions to do some dance number and dialoguebaazi. Somebody should tell SRK that he  had already cast his image as a mirasia or a naatakaar or in Englsih, we would say, an entertainer. Therefore he was paid as a piper to play the tune, and not to be pinned with medals in lieu of.

Did SRK miss his bus of aspirations any time. Yes he did.

Very early in his career, he lost votes for his negative roles in film Baazigar, and Darr when this same film vehicle was voted as the ‘Best Wholesome Film’ of the year. When murder can be wholesome entertainment, then it is not the film but the voting jury’s brain that needed to be examined. SRK did a career turning performance which even after three decades, is remembered. The second opportunity came in Mani Kaul’s film Idiot(Ahamak), a film, his fans do not even remember. Then lately about ten years ago he did his ‘My Name is Khan’, and ‘Kabhi Alvida Na Kahana’ which were internationally acclaimed. In between there are no film titles that can draw us to say that SRK did a memorable performance before the camera.

Endorsing products also does not evoke sympathies. In fact SRK’s choice of endorsements in our opinion, would not be termed as socially evocative. Indeed they said, this boy  was paid a lot to speak his products’ maker. In public charities too, SRK’s record is not exactly brilliant enough to be noticed by the Ministry that  runs the National Film Festival jury. I remember the case of Amitabh Bhachchan. He had been awarded the National Film Award for the Best Promising Actor  for  his role in film Saat Hindustani way back in 1970 and then there was  very long dry patch of national recognition even when films featuring him received  the National Awards and which went to the film director or film producers. Finally a campaign was mounted on his behalf by some film journalists when the new opportunity arrived, and  Big B was  bestowed the National Award  as Best Actor of the Year for his role in Agneepath, which was in 1990. Then the gates of honours were opened for ‘Big B’.

SRK  got  his popular awards, but  heart in heart he was yearning for National Honours and that have eluded him year after year. The other extreme case was of Aamir Khan who  would not appear to receive his National Award. He said, these awards can be bought. He was wrong. The awards were debated heatedly in each category, but then  secret votings decided the fate of each shortlisted film. I should know the procedure, I have been in the national feature film juries twice.

Can we rescue SRK from this career predicament?

I do see a ray of light for him. I suggest that SRK should take the path of a film producer. He should select some newly graduated students from the FTII or SRFTII, and discuss with them their dream projects. He should then invest in two or three of these projects and allow the ball to roll. He will sooner or later hit good luck in the bargain. And then he could get his photograph clicked in the company of the President of India.

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