Saturday, 1 October, 2022
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Shah Rukh Khan Fauji 2 must rescue Indian armed forces from Republic TV, Aaj Tak, Zee News

In times of CAA, police encounters, JNU and AMU, and now DSP Davinder Singh, Indian TV serials are still about who loves whom and who loves to hate whom.

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Everybody loves the army these days – politicians, TV news channels, Twitter troll armies and Bollywood movies. But there is no army on entertainment television.

So, come back Shah Rukh Khan, India needs its Fauji.

That, by the way, is the name of the TV serial (Doordarshan, 1989) that helped launch SRK’s career as the actor who went on to win blockbuster fame and fortune in Bollywood.

He appeared in other TV series, like Circus, Dil Dariya (DD National) but it was as Abhimanyu Rai, the carefree and careless young jock with a mop of most annoying hair in his eyes, who decides to follow in his elder brother’s footsteps and join the army, that made Shah Rukh Khan something of a household star – old timers still remember him as the army cadet out to prove that one day, his instructor Major Vikram Rai will be known as his brother.

Shah Rukh Khan has not returned to TV serials following his success in films, except fleetingly as Amitabh Bachchan’s replacement as the host of Kaun Banega Crorepati (Sony).

Now, it is the perfect time for him to reprise the role that first got him noticed, for five very good reasons.

Also read: Of all Bollywood Khans, Shah Rukh’s life & career were built on the Nehruvian idea of India

Why Fauzi must return

One, the superhero’s last film Zero didn’t amount to much more than that, so Shah Rukh Khan needs a muscular role to boost his career.

Two, he desperately needs an image change – the days of the everlasting love song, on screen, are over (leave that to actors under 40) — and SRK would look simply dashing as an army general in uniform.

Three, female actors led by Deepika Padukone have rushed in where SRK and the other Khans of Bollywood have feared to tread – they have been trolled on Twitter for their silence on the students’ and Citizenship Amendment Act protests. A TV series on the army would allow SRK to silence his critics and wear his patriotism literally on his sleeve.

Four, India’s armed forces have come to personify patriotism in the popular imagination at a time when the central government, political parties, and TV news channels are tom-tomming the men and women in fatigues almost every single day. At a time like this, can you think of a better role for Shah Rukh Khan than that of an army officer?

And, guess what, Shah Rukh, Fauji 2.0 would have no competition, which brings us to reason No. 5: there are no TV serials on air about the Indian Army, Navy or Air Force, and haven’t been for a long time – the last successful one was Sea Hawks, way back in 1997.

Streaming channel Amazon Prime Video is promising a show, called The Forgotten Army, from next week but there’s nothing on Star Plus, Sony, Zee, Colors, etcetera.

And a TV series on the armed forces would be a different vehicle for the likes of SRK: Indian cinema has made many war films, Uri: The Surgical Strike being the most recent, but a TV series would stand out.

Also read: Fauji: The show that launched a broody, chain-smoking SRK on the path to Bollywood glory

Lacking adventurism

It’s so sad that Hindi entertainment channels, unlike Indian cinema, don’t adventure outside the walls of the huge mansions they have erected for their soap operas – Kumkum Bhagya (Zee TV); Sanjivani (Star Plus) is one of the few serials located outside a home: a hospital.

Alternatively, they host the mythologicals like RadhaKrishn (Star Bharat) boasting phenomenal CGI.

Otherwise, they have stubbornly stuck to the five-day saas-bahu formula, with minor variations, since the success of the K serials (Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi) in 2000 – 20 years ago this July.

They seem to be stuck in a time warp, unable or unwilling to respond to the changes around them – the last six years seem to have passed them by without a glancing blow. The only concession they have made is to produce and telecast more Hindi mythologicals – an acknowledgment of the majoritarian worldview.

Also read: Zee News, Times Now, Aaj Tak must perish in 2020. India’s TV news needs to go back a decade

News channels ahead of entertainment TV

The armed forces is a subject of interest to all Indians, something that the news channels have recognised. Republic TV has its weekend show ‘Patriot’ on the armed forces, while others like Zee News, Aaj Tak, India TV, ABP News regularly feature the forces, especially when they report on the ‘enemy’ Pakistan.

Last year, the Balakot air strike made heroes of the armed forces, so it’s really surprising that TV entertainment channels did not try to cash in on their popularity by creating shows around the armed forces.

The same goes for the police. Besides Crime Patrol (Sony) and Savdhaan India (Star Bharat), there are no police or crime shows. Again, channels seem completely distanced from the social and political realities around them. Both these shows are reenactments of real crimes. There is no original police or detective serial on the main entertainment channels – why? That remains a complete mystery – forgive the pun.

Also read: Surabhi, the DD show that changed the idea of Indian culture as one entity

Armed with SRK

While rape, police encounters, police excesses and now DSP Davinder Singh, who was arrested in Kashmir last Saturday along with two Hizbul terrorists, have dominated TV news – think of the Delhi 2012 and Unnao rape cases, the protests against CAA, the police crackdown at AMU and JNU, TV serials are about who loves whom and who loves to hate whom.

This, when CID was the longest-running TV serial for 20 years – ACP Pradyuman & Co. were that popular with viewers. As everyone but TV entertainment channels knows, crime sells.

Which is why it is time for SRK, or any other intrepid actor, director, or producer, to step forward into the breach. A weekly 50-minute series on the life and times of an army officer – in Kashmir, where else — wow.

The opening sequence of every episode would have Shah Rukh Khan rush into the mustard fields, throw his army helmet into the air, spread out his arms in his most iconic filmy gesture – with an AK-47 in one hand and a grenade in the other.

Ah, the romance of it all…

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  1. Needless to say that she is a congress stooge. Must have been the recepient of congress crumbs at some point or the other and must be yearning that the good old days come back. AMU, JNU protests have been fuelled by anti national forces who want to break this country. Shailaja Bajpai and her ilk should tell the country what these protests are against and what ? What is there in CAA for Jamia, JNU students that they are protesting ? But these congress proxies in the media will never speak on facts, just beat about the bush and chest beat 24x7x365 about FOS of anti nationals. India needs answers as to who is funding the tukde tukde gang, the free Kashmir posters, Khilafat 2 posters on JNU, AMU campus ? Shailaja and her ilk can shout from rooftops but Modi and Shah are not going to spare the anti nationals. They are different, not seen since independence.

  2. Stop such idiocy at least. One read a very childish article. The author is simply showing her biased views and The Print is just encouraging it. The channels name you have mentioned at the beginning are also watched by millions and do you think all are fools. Kindly stop such things. Raja Mohanty

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