Most Popular Actor in the World: Shah Rukh Khan’s speech in University of Edinburgh


“Ladies and Gentlemen, It is indeed an honour for me to receive this doctorate today. “Humbled” is a word often used by people in my profession. I dislike the hypocritically obsequious connotation of it in these contexts so I’m not going to use it, but I will say that such occasions have a way of putting me right in my place! I get invited to conferences and inaugurations now and then to speak. When I receive the invitations, I also receive my brief. It’s usually about “success” and my “tips” on it (not my toes- those are covered by the “I will never show my toes” clause in my acting contracts. It’s my attempt at gender equality. My co-stars have no nipple clauses; I have a no toes one). Most people believe Bollywood stars aren’t insightful about anything other than the fateful occurrences that made them stars in the first place! I’ve had the odd divergence from being taken for stupid though; recently I got an email from the International Association of Advertising It read, “Dear Mr. Khan, The advertising community would like you to address them on Globalization and disruptive marketing”. I spent the next 4 hours on Google trying to assimilate the “disruptiveness” of innovating a product to match its market? But it was one of those rare days when even Google can’t help you. A day when you need to leave Google and ask God for deliverance. But I have a film releasing soon, so I didn’t want to waste my quota of favours from God…believe you me, I need a big hit right about now. So I did the next best thing. I made a grand entry on my io hawk and told everybody, that there is nothing I can tell you that you already don’t know. You are such an august group of gathering…blah blah. Instead let me entertain you because you all deserve a break, and before the organizers could interject I started thrusting my pelvic into their faces and broke out into the one and only intellectual thing I know to do… The Lungi Dance. I got away with it without being “humbled” (it helps to be a better dancer than most advertisers ) and what’s more, they seemed to have a good time. But that was a conference and this is a Doctorate from the prestigious University of Edinburgh. So I’m going to try to sound intelligent and insightful especially for you today. One of the subjects on the list of five I was sent for my speech today was: “Life Lessons” so for what its worth: here goes. Let me start at the very beginning. Whatever I have learnt of life has been at the movies. Actually the first few films that I did in my career and their titles very nearly have formulated all that I believe one should pass on as Life lessons to students of a prestigious institutions like yours. One of the first movies of my career was a movie called Deewana. I fall in love with a widow, who I meet literally by accident in which I very nearly kill her mother in law. I marry her. Not the mother in law but the widow. The widow is not keen on the marriage because she still loves her late husband but she marries me anyway. My rich, mean father disapproves of this union and does what a mean rich father does…tries to kill the widow. I am naturally disgusted by his behavior and after a long two page stand off with him, I leave the house for good. Then for some reason apart from the fact that I ride my motorcycle without holding the handlebar I have an accident. Seeing me so forlorn and sad in the hospital bed my ex widow wife falls in love with me. There is something about sick men that always attracts women to them. The sicker the better. Then again by a chance of fate I rescue a stranger at night from a bunch of goons, and guess what?? He turns out to be the original husband of my ex widow wife, who hadn’t died inspite of his inheritance hungry uncle’s best efforts. Evil uncle then kidnaps me and my ex widow now not so ex present day wife to get hold of his nephew. I escape his clutches and come back with my wife’s undead husband to rescue her. By now she is strapped to a bomb and after a liberal round of fist fighting kicking and screaming the evil uncle is blown to smithereens by the very same bomb that he had strapped on status confused lady of the film. But not before the sacrificial ex-husband has done a kamikaze, unstrapping his ex-wife and set the bomb off killing himself in the bargain. All obstacles removed, our hero lives happily ever after with his beloved wife. I’m not sure why the movie was called Deewana (which in Hindi means madness of a particularly nice/romantic kind) but I have a feeling it had something to do with the guy who came up with the plot!! So, here’s my first life lesson, inspired by the movie title Deewana: Madness (of the particularly nice/romantic kind) is an absolute prerequisite to a happy and successful life. Don’t ever treat your little insanities as if they are aberrations that ought to be hidden from the rest of the world. Acknowledge them and use them to define your own way of living the only life you have. All the most beautiful people in the world, the most creative, the ones who led revolutions, who discovered and invented things, did so because they embraced their own idiosyncrasies. There’s no such thing as ‘normal’. That’s just another word for lifeless. Soon after I acted in Deewana, I became the hapless hero of a movie called Chamatkar. This movie had a more believable plot line. I get cheated off all my money by my best friend slash, conman and find myself asleep in a cemetery only to be awakened by the ghost of a murdered mobster. A ghost that only I can see and nobody else. I am very perceptive that way. Anyway the mobster ghost helps me get a job as a teacher through his ghostly good offices. I fall in love with his daughter from a wife that has passed on after being duped by his flunky. Together, the ghost and I organize a cricket match, yes I was doing that even before I owned a cricket team, and avenge the various misdeeds done to us by bashing up the flunky and the conman, forgive them and let each other descend into the respective abodes where we belong. He goes back to the grave and I go away with the babe. Now ‘Chamatkar’, means miracle: right and straightforward without any nuances. So, my next lesson is the following: If you ever find yourself cheated of all your money and sleeping on a grave, do not fear, a miracle is near, either that or a ghost. All you have to do is fall asleep! In other words, no matter how bad it gets, life IS the miracle you are searching for. There is no other one around the corner. Develop the faith in it to let it take its own course, make all the effort you can to abide by its beauty and it will not let you down. Use every resource you have been given, your mental faculties, the ability of your heart to love and feel for those around you, your health and good fortune: all of the thousands of gifts life has given you to their maximum potential. Honour your life. Honour each gift and each moment by not laying it to waste.


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