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6-min read

Did Shah Rukh Khan plagiarise JK Rowling's speech?

It seems Shah Rukh's speech is not just inspired from JK Rowling's speech as several other uncredited sources are surfacing.


Updated:October 6, 2013, 12:13 AM IST
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Did Shah Rukh Khan plagiarise JK Rowling's speech?
It seems Shah Rukh's speech is not just inspired from JK Rowling's speech as several other uncredited sources are surfacing.

New Delhi: In his interviews and shows, Shah Rukh Khan comes across as someone who quickly connects with the audience through his words. Recently, the actor was invited to speak at an AIMA (All India management Association) gathering where he talked about the fundamental things that shape the life of a common human being. He talked about failures, success, education and poverty and how these things play a crucial role in our lives. However, this time the actor seems to be taking the support of someone else's words to express his feelings.

Shah Rukh's speech at AIMA event won him many new fans but now a blog called 'MeLaNGe', run by Agratha Dinakaran, has come up with the allegation that Shah Rukh's speech is hugely inspired from British author JK Rowling's speech that she made at Harvard in 2008. It was titled 'The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination.'

Now, when several people are taking a close look at Shah Rukh's speech, it is surfaced that his speech is 'inspired' from more than one source.

Advertising professional Mahesh Murthy has pointed out on his Facebook page that Shah Rukh's famous speech is a compilation of quotes from several uncredited sources.

There are striking similarities between the speeches made by Shah Rukh Khan and JK Rowling at two different venues at different times. The tone and the texture are similar at more than one level. However, Shah Rukh didn't credit anyone for the words he spoke.

At one point in his speech, Shah Rukh Khan says, "Poverty is not an ennobling experience at all. Poverty entails fear and stress and sometimes depression. I had seen my parents go through it many times. It means a thousand petty humiliations and hardships."

While JK Rowling had said, "I quite agree with them that it is not an ennobling experience. Poverty entails fear, and stress, and sometimes depression; it means a thousand petty humiliations and hardships. Climbing out of poverty by your own efforts, that is indeed something on which to pride yourself, but poverty itself is romanticised only by fools."

At another juncture in his speech, Shah Rukh Khan said, "Won't bore you with more details of how failure is a good thing because you won't call me back again for a talk on success etc next time but would like to tell you all that life is a not just a check-list of acquisitions, attainments and fulfillment. Your qualifications and CV don't really matter. Jobs don't matter. Instead life is difficult and complicated and beyond anyone's control and the humility, respecting your failures will help you survive its vicissitudes."

While a part of Rowling's speech says, "I would tell my 21-year-old self that personal happiness lies in knowing that life is not a check-list of acquisition or achievement. Your qualifications, your CV, are not your life, though you will meet many people of my age and older who confuse the two. Life is difficult, and complicated, and beyond anyone's total control, and the humility to know that will enable you to survive its vicissitudes."

It can be said in the defence of actor's speech that somebody else wrote the speech for him but still the ghost-writer was required to give due credit to JK Rowling. If Shah Rukh Khan is making a speech at a public meeting then the onus is on him to be careful about the authenticity and originality of the words coming out of his mouth.

If the actor has made the speech without knowing the facts then he should be probing into the matter and should issue a clarification as soon as possible.

Copying word by word text from Rowling's speech is a grave violation of intellectual property rights and it's Shah Rukh Khan's responsibility to explain whether it was a conscious decision or not.

We found the transcripts of Shah Rukh and Rowling's speeches on internet. We are also embedding the videos of both the events, so that you can see all facets of the dice.

Mahesh Murthy writes on his Facebook page, "It's not just JK Rowling he ripped off without attribution. In the same speech, Shah Rukh Khan also ripped off, without attribution, a writer from Slate.com, William H. Cosby, Jr. (Bill Cosby), the founder of Honda, Thomas Henry Huxley, John Wooden and Eddie Rickenbacker . And you may yet find a few more!

The JK Rowling plagiarism was originally pointed out by Agratha Dinakaran in her blog http://mercurialpurple.blogspot.in/2013/10/from-jk-to-srk-word-sure-travels.html?m=1

Starting with the assumption that "when there's smoke, there's fire", I looked a little closer. There were at least 6 other cases I found of using uncredited sources - or plagiarism, if you'd like to call it that.

It was apparently a speech about failure. Guess what, SRK - you failed big time here!

I sourced a transcript of SRK's talk here: http://www.aima.in/media-centre/publications/Shahrukh-Khan-speech-at-AIMA-NMC.html

Here's the umm, source of Bollywood inspiration, in each case:

1. From SRK's talk:

Take Warren Buffet. Here's a guy who must get asked five times a day how he became the most successful investor of his era. His answers - 'Reinvest your profits,' 'Limit what you borrow,' etc.-are no different from what any fool could tell you. Buffet isn't being cagey. He simply doesn't know. Success is a wonderful thing, but it tends not to be the sort of experience that we learn from. We enjoy it; perhaps we even deserve it. But we don't acquire wisdom from it.

1a. Actual uncredited source: Timothy Noah


2. From SRK's talk:

Let me tell you...poverty is not an ennobling experience at all. Poverty entails fear and stress and sometimes depression

2a. Actual uncredited source: JK Rowling of Harry Potter fame, speech at Harvard University


3. From SRK's talk:

the true road to success is not just the desire for success but a fear of failure.

3a. Actual uncredited source: Bill Cosby the comedian


4. From SRK's talk:

There is a well- known story of a bank president who was asked the secret of his success. 'Right decisions,' he replied. 'How do you get to know how to make right decisions?' came the follow-up question. 'Experience,' was the answer. 'Well, how do you get experience?' asked his interrogator. 'Wrong decisions,' he replied.

4a. Actual uncredited source: Soichiro Honda, of Honda Motor Co.


5. From SRK's talk:

life is a not just a check list of acquisitions, attainments and fulfillments. Your qualifications and CV don't really matter. Jobs don't matter. Instead life is difficult and complicated...and beyond anyone's control and the humility to know that by respecting your failures will help you survive it's vicissitudes.

5a. Actual uncredited source: JK Rowling again, same speech


6. From SRK's talk:

There is the greatest practical benefit in making a few failures in life.

6a. Actual uncredited source: Thomas Huxley


7. From SRK's talk:

Success is never final....just like failure is never fatal.

7a. Actual uncredited source: John Wooden


8. From SRK's talk:

Courage is doing what YOU are afraid to do. Personally scared to do in whichever capacity you work. There can be no courage unless you are scared.

8a. Actual uncredited source: Eddie Rickenbacker


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