‘You can become a philosopher after you become rich.’—Shah Rukh Khan
Actor and superstar Shah Rukh Khan, the object of the intelligent Indian woman’s fantasies, warns of the perils of getting lost in intellectualizing life before securing its material bases. In Shrayana Bhattacharya’s book Desperately Seeking Shah Rukh, the entire bunch of female fans interviewed have deep and engaging thoughts about their lives irrespective of the fragility of their material situation. Those thoughts and philosophies, howsoever scattered, are the sum and substance of this delightful book aimed at a slice of life insight into parts of women’s lives that escape more formal analyses.
Bhattacharya, like a huge swathe of Indian women, is a die-hard Shah Rukh Khan fan. In the book, she takes off from her own life experiences, where professional accomplishment and success intertwine with the quest for love and companionship, through lanes of intimacy, mostly leading to heartbreaks and loss. Are we looking at an upgraded, academic version of a Mills & Boon story? No. In those comforting tales, toxic masculinity abounds and goes unquestioned as the romantic fantasies are spun. Here, the author uses her sharply honed analytical chops to make men, and a patriarchal world, accountable for the ease of indignity and misogyny that love, companionship and heartbreak are shot through with.