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More than Zero — Shah Rukh Khan is back

Zero’s failure seemed to have deterred brand SRK a little, and it felt like it was more than just a commercial failure. It was personal, to the man himself.

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Shah Rukh Khan is back. After a long hiatus following the debacle of Zero, the Aryan Khan-NCB fiasco and general targetting in BJP’s India, the king is slowly saying that he is going nowhere — one Disney+ Hotstar ad, Pathaan shoot photo, and Dunki teaser with Rajkumar Hirani at a time. Most fans breathed a sigh of relief when he showed up at Baba Siddiqui’s iftaar party — all was well in Bollywood again.

2023 is going to be the year of SRK, with 3-4 movies in the line.

In the latter half of 2020, social media was abuzz with speculations of SRK’s huge return to the big screen after the debacle of zero. King Khan was reportedly going to end his self-imposed two-year sabbatical by kicking off the shooting for Pathaan, with Sidharth Anand at the helm.

In June of 2021 during his interactive session on Twitter called #AskSRK, a fan asked Shah Rukh— “What phase of life do you think you are right now sir?” SRK at his philosophical best answered, ‘Rebuilding…’

SRK’s career has been a roller coaster lately, his personal life has also been entangled in a number of controversies. But adversity can’t discourage the man who once stood at Queen’s necklace and claimed ‘i’ll rule this city one day’.

SRK was said to be in talks with Tamil filmmaker Atlee and Rajkumar Hirani from Bollywood. But Khan kept his fans waiting until 2nd March 2022— when he released a teaser featuring John Abraham, Deepika Padukone, and a glimpse of his own look in the much-awaited action film. ‘Remember the date’, he said; ‘Pathaan time starts now’— and so it seems.

Khan will be back on the big screen after more than four years on 25 January 2023. And he has a lot more power-packed projects in the pipeline.

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Zero’s wasn’t a full stop

Zero’s failure seemed to have deterred brand SRK a little, but it felt like it was more than just a commercial failure. It was personal, to the man himself.

He had expressed the same at Beijing Film Festival, where the movie premiered as the closing fixture. He had said “Maybe I made the wrong film, maybe I did not do the right storytelling, so I am a little wary how it will be received here.”

Shahrukh had put a lot into the movie, from VFX to shooting with heavy makeup and re-doing shots multiple times because of the visual requirements of the film; as he was playing a vertically-challenged man.

Zero was a massive undertaking, and if not for anything else, it deserved praise for the VFX marvel it was, when compared to Hindi cinema standards. But it was slammed by critics and audiences alike.

But SRK dusted himself off with his small-screen return, for the second season of his widely acclaimed show TED Talks India Nayi Soch, which aired in 2019 and was very well received.

He also scaled up his production house Red Chillies Entertainment during the pandemic. By producing critically acclaimed titles like Badla, Kaamyaab, Bard of Blood, Betaal, Bob Biswas, and Love Hostel for Netflix and other platforms, the company moved beyond producing just SRK-starrers.

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2023 will be the year of the Badshah

Following the official announcement of Pathan, SRK showcased a layered ad campaign as he shared the poster for SRK+. The marketing for his upcoming collaboration with Hotstar+ (which is yet to be revealed) unfolded dramatically with a series of videos featuring Anurag Kashyap and Gopal Datt. The campaign went viral, as speculations arose and stars like Ajay Devgn and Salman Khan joined the madness and fueled confusion.

The plans for SRK+ are yet to unfold, but SRK’s self-effacing humour and his charm were on full display.

In addition, he has now announced his next mega-project with Rajkumar Hirani — Dunki, starring Taapsee Pannu.

In the announcement video, Shahrukh can be seen fanboying over Hirani’s blockbusters and then thanking him for the collaboration which he had been looking forward to. It’s no secret that Hirani has also been in search of the right script to work with Khan — moreover, SRK was the filmmakers’ first choice for Munnabhai MBBS.

The announcement of this collaboration took social media by storm, as Shah Rukh fans like myself, rejoiced.

With Atlee’s film slated for an announcement next and the superstar’s appearance in Salman’s upcoming Tiger 3, it won’t be a stretch to say that 2023 could very well be the year that the Badshah finally takes back his throne.

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