what next, SRK?

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Who would you liken Shah Rukh Khan to?

Who would you liken Shah Rukh Khan to? The voice on the other end of the phone is American, and the question is very similar to the ones I get asked on and off by journeymen journalists who want a quick fix on Bollywood from their limited Hollywood perspective. Tom Cruise or Tom Hanks?

After a bit of back and forth, we settle on one of the two. Hanks would be more like Aamir Khan, with his way of working and choosing roles. Ergo, Shah Rukh is more like Cruise. My interlocutor rings off, happy with his byte-sized nugget which would fit into his piece on the top stars of Hindi cinema. What about Salman, I ask, don't you want to know about him? He's the guy who opens the biggest of them all. Not really, he says. Shah Rukh is fine. Aamir is okay too. Salman, he pronounces it Sal Man, who's that?

Put it down to ignoramuses who are clueless about the superstar strata in Bollywood. Or the SRK effect in the international market. Aamir Khan's 3 Idiots has been a smash hit in both des and pardes but before that, his reach was comparatively restricted. Salman beats everyone when it comes to huge opening domestic weekends, even with his duds. But globally, the Khan with the mostest is the moppet with mop and the dimples and those curved eyebrows. And right at this moment, even locally, it is SRK's time: his act in Yash Chopra's final film, Jab Tak Hai Jaan shows a star being played nearly fully to his strengths.

Of the Khan trio, Shah Rukh is really the only one who can play both youthful loverboy and older romantic hero even though he's just demonstrated in JTHJ what a laughable kisser he is. SRK's tried his hand at action, and he's done his bit of shooting and scooting in his last outing:

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