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Open letter to Shah Rukh Khan on his 50th birthday

Koral Dasgupta @KoralDasgupta

Updated: November 2, 2015, 3:33 PM IST
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Open letter to Shah Rukh Khan on his 50th birthday
A photo of SRK.
Koral Dasgupta’s first book titled “Power of a Common Man : Connecting with Consumers the SRK Way” is an initiative meant to prepare easy doses out of the complex Consumer Behaviour theories (a specialisation subject under Marketing Management studies) and offer them to everyone who wants to sell a product, a service, an idea, or simply, themselves! Vinay Hebbar, Managing Director Asia-Pacific, Harvard Business Publishing reviewed it as "Koral Dasgupta’s innovative analysis brings to life abstract concepts in marketing and consumer behavior, through the lens of SRK’s inspiring journey.  Plenty of refreshing insights, fun and effective learning, whether you are a marketing student, a manager or just another SRK fan – read it!” 

The book interestingly starts with a fan-letter which Dasgupta has openly written to Shah Rukh Khan. The letter is available to us, as an excerpt from the book.

Dear Sir,

Greetings to you!

I have been mesmerised by you ever since your celluloid existence began. I was in school when you set fire to Indian television with Fauji. My conservative family in Calcutta did not allow me to mix much with boys, but there was no objection to my falling for someone as inaccessible as you! I wasn’t permitted to put up posters though. Later, when I was struggling with my management studies in Lucknow, a dear friend gifted me a huge poster on my birthday. It found pride of place on the inside of the door of my hostel room.

For a long time I never had any other soft drink but Pepsi, used only Clinic All Clear shampoo, Nokia mobile phones, Airtel service and Linc pens, because those were the endorsements of yours that I could afford. I stood up hypnotised in the theatre, inviting the wrath of co-viewers, when you ran through the bridge in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai; shouted “Na-mumkin hai” with others just after you said “Don ko pakadna mushkil hi nahi…” in Don, the Chase Begins; hurt and embarrassed myself while walking towards a wall-size still of yours, because there was a glass door between, which I overlooked. The username for my first email id was borrowed from your third film, Chamatkar (naming an email id as per your first two movies Deewana and Idiot would have been inappropriate for a decent young woman!!). And the list is endless…

In case you think I am still a ‘school girl’, let me assure that yes, I am. I am a Professor in a Business school in Mumbai. Indian cinema is one of my favourite topics of discussion, because the miscellaneous interests of students in a not-so-famous management college are varied, but everyone instantly connects to films. My Consumer Behaviour classes are loaded with examples from the industry! The Khan Triumvirate are my favourite case study.

As declared, I have lived some madness and gradually with time, I’ve got into reasons. My role as a teacher of Marketing Management pushes me to analyse the ‘why’ of things. So, as I analysed the film industry in terms of its players, strategies, innovations and environments, I have also tried to attribute reasons for my appreciation. And I know that I am not alone in this zone. So why do we, the SRK loyalists, continue with our fondness for you, transcending decades and yet never coming close to feeling saturated? For me personally, you haven’t been just another ‘hero of love stories’. I’m sure it is so for many others.

Whatever you offer to your viewers…the movies, interviews, screen presence for endorsements or events, your decisions and dialogues that are accessible to the public, are idolized as a platform to learn and be inspired from. I know that many books about you are available in the market. However, in the pages that follow, I would like to explore brand SRK from a consumer’s angle. Your journey from Baazigar to My Name is Khan, Dreamz Unlimited/
Red Chillies to IPL, has not been very predictable. I have tried to understand and share with my class many of the dimensions you have touched upon, the innovations that you have added to the business of Indian Cinema, how your offerings as a brand has rubbed on to your endorsements and how your decision to own a sports team is a classic case of diversification. I have attempted to work on your brand value and business strategies – those that are planned consciously or are totally unplanned – that enhance the bouquet on offer for the consumer! And of course, keep the consumer flabbergasted…

The inspiration to pen down this book did not come solely from you. My beloved students sometimes come back to me requesting advice on the textbooks that they should follow for their course. My heart aches to answer them, because I, as a student, had never loved to learn from the mundane. And it’s not right of me to expect them to learn from the ever changing market since their brains are not yet conditioned for absorption of that kind of intellectual wisdom. This book offers to help these students with a practical guide for prevalent practices in consumer behaviour. It is also meant to lure prospective students who conveniently judge ‘Management’ as a technical and professional tool to score a job. Given that the M-word is oft repeated in every society, I felt it important to articulate the innovation and creativity behind it in a reader-friendly context. Also, it irks me to understand that the subject I have loved and represented for the last 12 years remains mostly confined to the academic and business practitioners.

Why can’t an architect know about Consumer Behaviour? Or what stops a homemaker from reading it when she is sitting idle? Can’t a civil engineer be allowed to smile when some added understandings dawn upon him? The subject is a story and theory at the same time, if your mind can treat it right! Hence this merger of a course with an industry which will never stop influencing young minds.

Readers may or may not appreciate every work of yours, they might agree or disagree with my analysis… but in the process, they’ll develop their own perspective towards what I have written.

Let me tell you that we, your admirers, do nurture a bit of Shah Rukh Khan in our hearts. We all believe in eternal love, and reach out to our partners with hands wide open and head held high, proud to have loved and be loved! We have all been ‘you’ at some point or the other, howsoever limited our capacity.

The book is eternally indebted to your Marketing zest, Sir, because that is the main input towards my initiative. Every Bollywood-enthusiast across the globe connects with you in his or her own way! You engage strangely with people who don't even speak your language. Marketing textbooks teach the theories and concepts that students need to "learn". But when the students find certain practices around them that works wonders, they grow up on them! Today everyone is constantly trying to sell himself and create a self-image. Social media particularly arouses such opportunities and lets us live the life of a pseudo celebrity. In such a backdrop, when self-selling is the "in" thing, it is just more than relevant that we learn it from someone who has been there done that.
Thanks for being that Marketing maestro as much as you are an actor and an entrepreneur!

Warm regards,
Koral Dasgupta
First Published: November 2, 2015, 3:33 PM IST

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