The Bookworm That Is Shah Rukh Khan – Guest Blog

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It was at a shoot that I discovered Shah Rukh Khan is a bookworm. My camera crew and I were waiting at Mehboob Studios while Shah Rukh was on the set. His management guided me into his customized vanity van so we could set up the frame for the interview. A sizable stack of books at a table adjoining a seat in the expansive space added so much color to the luxurious environment.

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I was amazed to see a Calvin and Hobbes that the megastar was reading, casually placed half-open, upside down on his table. Not wanting to disturb the page that he may have marked for continuing to read later on, I focused my attention to the other heap while my team went about setting up the camera. As soon as I picked up what looked like a teenager’s book {for it had a geeky looking teen drawn on the cover and the blurb read something like this – A teenage genius, Artemis captures Holly Short, who is a Fairy and a captain of the LEPrecon (Lower Elements Police Recon)} the door to the vanity opened and in strode SRK. “You’ve read Artemis Fowl?!” he asked. I sheepishly replied in the negative, to which he replied, “You should!” adding, “My son was reading this and I borrowed it from him.” Errrr ohkay. So SRK reads books for teenagers? Yes, a lot of them.

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In fact, as I discovered over several meetings, he is quite a voracious reader. So what does he like to read? “I read everything, anything that catches my eye,” he says.

So his reading list is so varied. One will find everything from comics to popular fiction to pulp …everything.  For someone who may be assumed to follow the box office success closely, SRK is beyond the ratings of his films. Instead, he follows bestseller lists religiously. “I buy those books while travelling,” he says, also confessing, “I may or may not agree with those lists, because tastes are subjective.”

There are some I don’t finish, that I may not enjoy so much but I do skim through them all. Because I like to know how and what people write and more than that, I am interested in knowing what people are reading,” says SRK, who is sometimes in the middle of reading more than three books at a time!  SRK loves going to bookstores in London or America. “I get a coffee and keep browsing for hours—something I can’t do in India. I come back home with a bagful of books,” said SRK. In his own words, he is also “addicted to Kindle” and says, “Having Kindle means I need not carry many books everywhere. So now, even when I am in the plane, I open my kindle and read.”

His co-actors and some friends in the fraternity are always asking Shah Rukh for recommendations. I have done that too – and to my delight, have often had SRK asking me, “So what are you reading currently?”
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But I had once asked him for the five must-read books he would suggest someone to read. “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams is a must must read. I keep reading and re-reading it,” exclaimed SRK, revealing those famous dimples. “Also read Woody Allen – all his books – I have the entire collection – the classic bestsellers Getting Even, Without Feathers, and Side Effects, this definitive collection of comic writings has irony, obsession and this ability to not take anything seriously. If you love films, you must also read Woody Allen on Woody Allen – a self-portrait of an uncompromising filmmaker. Besides the on-locations and behind the scenes of all his films, it is almost like an autobiography and is so insightful,” asserts SRK.

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Another classic that SRK recommends strongly is Virginia Woolf’s Room of One’s Own. “The quote, ‘Lock up your libraries if you like but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind’ has stayed with me,” he says.

“I also enjoyed reading The Five People You Meet in Heaven – a novel about how every person on earth matters,” reveals SRK.
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Books by Adrian Mole, Bill Cosby’s Fatherhood and Parenthood, The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan were also recommendations by SRK that I picked up to read – and am so glad I did.

I saw SRK’s philosophical side when I saw Jack Gilbert, Kahlil Gibran, Richard Bach and Rumi in his library – yes he has a huge one at Mannat. I remember how  he quoted a poem (Falling and Flyings) from Jack Gilbert’s collection of poems named Refusing Heaven,

“I believe Icarus was not failing as he fell, but just coming to the end of his triumph.”

What are you waiting for? Pick up these books recommended by the man himself.


About The Author

Aarti Kapur Singh

journalist

Aarti has been a journalist for a little less than two decades and has worked with some leading names in print and electronic media. She hates labeling her adoration of Shah Rukh Khan…and only insists on calling him a ‘murshid’. In her free time she moonlights as a freelance agony aunt for her friends and is best friend to her 10 year old son.


Below are all the links of the above mentioned books on Amazon:

Refusing Heaven

The Lightning Thief

Fatherhood

Books by Adrian Mole

The 5 people you meet in Heaven

Room of One’s Own

Woody Allen on Woody Allen

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Artemis Fowl

 


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