Shah Rukh Khan is one of the best sellers India has ever produced
There are several books written on Shah Rukh Khan. Though the latest one – Power of a Common Man published by Westland Books, isn’t in the same gamut. It uses SRK as an example to talk about how a common man became a brand and the whole strategy of being Brand SRK.
It is written by Koral Dasgupta who is an academic and a management consultant. She is also a professor in a business school in Mumbai and this is her first book – combining both her love for brands and Bollywood.
This is Koral’s story about Brand SRK including Bollywood as one of the elements behind the brand.
Could you describe what this book is about and the process that you went through while researching and writing the book?
The book academically discusses Shah Rukh Khan’s marketing talents. It tries to discuss how the actor has engaged his fans-followers-consumers beyond the confines of language, country or community, and make them all stretch their hands out with head held high and unite by one name, SRK!
All my research was internet and tabloids based. I am hugely indebted to media for providing me with all kinds of information I required. Very gracefully they granted me permissions to use content or refer to them at important places in the book. I did not involve SRK’s office while writing.
How was the idea of the book born?
The idea of the book was always there with me and I knew that someday someone will write a book on SRK’s marketing avatar. Just that I did not know it would happen through me.
Why SRK? How is the book different from other books on SRK?
SRK because he’s one of the best “sellers” India has ever produced. His ideas of selling and marketing are innovative and first of its kinds; also he is well read and updated with global standards of market practices. So studying his work is extremely relevant for students and practitioners.
Most of the books on SRK are biographical; they talk about his aspirations, motivations, dreams, longings, love and distress. In my book I have touched upon only that portion of his biography which helps in deriving academic conclusions. I did discuss his boardroom practices to analyse him as an innovative entrepreneur; I mentioned some of his controversial ads to evaluate him as a non-risk-averse endorser. But I was certainly not interested in covering where SRK was born or his personal struggles or how he wooed his girlfriend to be his wife!
Has SRK seen the book?
I have sent a copy to his office.
What was the objective of this book?
As a teacher, and also as a mother, I wish education was a pleasure to pursue and not a pressure! Academicians are already taking a lot of initiatives to make learning relevant and interesting for students. I have contributed my bit by writing this book. Let’s face it; we all have suffered some moments when we studied because we were scared. We mugged up stuff from books because we couldn’t afford to flunk and had a social prestige to maintain. So how would it be like if education was as good as watching a film or reading a novel? That’s the treatment I have given to my book. It wraps up some marketing theories and concepts without necessarily pointing out to the reader that hey, you are studying now!
How much time did you take to finish and get it published?
It took me almost a year to finish the book. Initially I had covered till Jab Tak Hain Jaan but when Chennai Express broke some records, it felt criminally offensive not to include it. So I wrote a separate case study and included it in a chapter called “Innovations – Image Management, Reinvention, Positioning & Industry Practices”!
The book was safely parked with Westland Books within three months of completing the manuscript.
Tell us 3 important highlights of the book.
1. The chapter called “Ad Analysis–Distinct Shades of SRK” talks about some of the endorsements that employed interesting characteristics from Mr. Khan’s personality and attributed those to the brands he stood for.
2. “SRK – The Next Bachchan” discusses why SRK is compared to Mr. Bachchan when Salman Khan or Aamir Khan or Hrithik Roshan is no less talented or successful. Nothing has given me more satisfaction than cracking this.
3. What comes to mind first when someone mentions Shah Rukh Khan? Good actor? Richest actor? King of Romance? Successful entrepreneur? Perfect life with happy family and great career? Excellent orator? Arrogant and snob? This is what I have tried to understand in a chapter called “Perception” to discuss how people react to SRK and how his PR works wonderfully to achieve those reactions. The chapter also helps in addressing some of his controversies.
Excerpt of the book – (Used with permission from the Author)
Power of a Common Man : Connecting with Consumers the SRK Way
Chapter 5 : EVOLUTION OF INDIAN CINEMA – The Industry Before SRK
Politics and cinema have an intricate connection in our country. Relations between the two institutions have evolved from time to time in the post- Independence era when cinema has been a very powerful medium for the popular expression of India’s political identity. This section analyses the historical impact of politics as an evolutionary catalyst for the products of the Indian Film Industry.
Pre- Independence : During the pre-independence period, Indian cinema did not directly contribute to the struggle for freedom for fear of being censored. But the ideas of freedom continued to be expressed indirectly through religious and historical cinema.
1947-65 : The newly won freedom from the British rule had ushered in an era of faith and optimism, marked by expectations that old promises would be fulfilled and new changes would bring about prosperity, equality and better life for the common people. This romanticism reflected clearly in contemporary cinema.
1965-70 : The mid-1960’s were a short but distinct era of matured romance, when grey shades in society started reflecting in cinema and there was a shift from the earlier idealism. This phase lasted for less than a decade. While the movies in earlier years spoke about sustainability, this era stood for security! In the same period, there was another genre of films with radically stylish heroes, best projected by Shammi Kapoor.
1970’s : Hope began turning into despair by the early 70s. The middle class, who had sacrificed much during the freedom struggle in the hope of a better tomorrow suffered a great deal. It was this era that witnessed the birth of the biggest phenomena of Indian cinema, Mr. Amitabh Bachchan, with his ‘Angry Young Man’ image. He voiced the true sentiments of the ‘janta’. Not everybody could choose or embrace the violent route to fixing things, but via Bachchan, they vicariously lived the joy of bashing away the ills that irked them day in and day out.
1980’s : The ‘80s are considered to be the darkest era of Indian cinema. This was a period of confused transition, where fun and entertainment were expressed through weird fantasies. The romance of the 1960’s was replaced by sex and violence. Indira Gandhi’s reign motivated women’s empowerment to a considerable extent. Women were increasingly gaining strength in the scripts and acting as vigilantes who avenged crimes against themselves and society. Hema Malini, Sridevi, Rekha, and others often represented the fearless woman of substance, who ran the family and worked with the police with a mission to eradicate evils from society.
1990’s : The transient 1980’s glided into the 1990’s and films became more and more oriented towards the new economic policies. The 1990’s saw the meteoric rise of Shah Rukh Khan. Right from the beginning, Khan displayed the qualities of an entrepreneur along with those of an actor. The liberalization and globalisation scene appealed to his business brain and he seized each and every opportunity that came his way to garner best returns out of it.
Post 2000 : Indian cinema found global mass appeal at the turn of the 21st century. As the world became a global village, the industry reached out further to international audiences in an organized way.
– By Priyanka Jain