The King Has Left The Building… | 19 October, 2019

By Surendra Bhatia

Ever since the release of Zero in December 2018, Shah Rukh Khan has been MIA (Missing In Action). As far as Bollywood is concerned, he is closeted in Mannat, his lavish abode in Bombay at Bandra’s Bandstand, and not immediately interested in getting to sets to shoot a film. His own explanation for the absence has been that he needs a sabbatical to reassess the contemporary film scene. He probably wants to take time out to analyse why his judgement on scripts is going awry, and basically to chill with family and books, till he feels the urgent need to shoot a particular script.

His fans generously left him alone, probably because they realised, their superstar idol could not afford any more… well, not flops, but films that failed to enthuse turnstiles to swing wildly. No one talks about Zero and some other SRK films titles of which need not be mentioned because, according to Javed Akhtar, only hits are remembered. Shah Rukh’s fans have left those films behind and so will he, if he hasn’t already. Past flops don’t make great after-dinner conversation, anyway.

So, for almost a year, Shah Rukh has stayed locked up in his bungalow, except for his trips abroad, and to shoot for endorsements, and for meetings for his other businesses, and occasional sorties to parties and ribbon-cutting and weddings (not to dance, please) and so on. Bollywood shootings were turned away from the Mannat gate without a hearing. 

So, in this context, it is heartening to reveal the very hush-hush news that Shah Rukh’s sabbatical is nearly over. He isn’t shooting for a Bollywood film as yet but he has, according to crows that circle his bungalow on the seafront and are privy to audio-visuals from the outside into his bedroom and living room and den, settled his mind on signing not one or two but as many as three films at a go! This, obviously, means, Shah Rukh feels, he has got his mojo back and he trusts again his script sense — whether aided by some others or not, it is not immediately known.   

If true (and why shouldn’t it be?), it is wonderful that SRK is going to be back. He has been missed, especially as his next release, even if he starts shooting now, is unlikely to be earlier than Diwali, 2020. More importantly, the fact that he feels that he’s got the ducks lined up just right and has faith in hitting the bull’s eye with his next three shots cannot but delight Bollywood. Shah Rukh has churned out hits over the last few decades like a Chinese restaurant doling out noodles… and it would be awful if he suddenly decides ‘no more’. His fans will be waiting for him; in fact, even Salman and Aamir’s fans would be cheering for him because the triumvirate is complete only with all three in cinemas. Shah Rukh has been missed by all film fans in the country. So, the King will finally leave his bungalow again for Bollywood. However, please know that this is hush-hush news, to be validated only when SRK announces it. But believe it, please… the alternative is not acceptable.