Pathaan: The Return of Shah Rukh Khan

Pathaan: The Return of Shah Rukh Khan

By Valentina Tuta

Attention Bollywood fans, superstar Shah Rukh Khan is back! Recently, the latest movie of the famous Khan was announced and released on January 24th. However, it was kept on headlines in India for whole weeks and today, we’re going to tell you why.

Who’s Shah Rukh Khan?

As you see, this man has been one of India’s biggest and most-loved stars for years. Charming, funny and with millions of fans at home and abroad, the actor is often described as Bollywood’s “most important cultural export”, whose popularity travels beyond his films. In fact, many of his followers often call him King Khan or the King of Bollywood.

We know what you’re thinking: “why the commotion? Well, Pathaan is his first movie after a four-year hiatus. The 57-year-old is making a comeback on the big screen after a series of setbacks in his personal and professional life, including the arrest of his son Aryan Khan last year on fake charges of drug possession (of course, the charges were eventually dropped) and a number of films that didn’t do well.

More about the film

Actually, it was for this reason that his return caused such a sensation and redirected the audience’s attention to his film even more. It also stars Deepika Padukone (one of India’s most popular stars) and John Abraham. Besides, when the trailer dropped on 10 January, the fan frenzy peaked.

It’s important to highlight that the first official preview has been watched more than 51 million times on YouTube. Khan’s tweet of the Hindi trailer has had 3.9 million views and an additional half a million each for the Telugu and Tamil versions.

On the other hand, some reports say there has been an “exceptional response” to advanced ticket sales in the US, UAE, Germany and Australia.


Broadly speaking, the plot described by the fans talk about a mix between James Bond movies and Impossible Mission with a very predictable end. In this opportunity, a group of terrorists try to destroy India with “an attack they could not have imagined”.

Even if the authorities work hard to avoid the situation, time is running out and at stake is the country’s future. So, they decided to call their best man to work.

Khan is a very capable spy with tousled hair and chiselled biceps and abs, who effortlessly takes down enemies, hops on moving vehicles, rappels down skyscrapers and seduces women while trying to save his nation from evil forces, led by Abraham, the great villain in this story.

Nonetheless, although the two-and-half-minute trailer has excited fans and critics alike, (who’ve been gushing over the scale of the project), Pathaan has not been spared from controversy.

Pathaan controversy

To begin with, Khan had had a lot of problems with the press and critics in the past, but ever since his comments about growing religious intolerance in India a few years back, the barrage of attacks from Hindu right-wing groups have become more personal and concerted.

Therefore, the first aspect the hardline Hindu groups criticized was the film’s name, as it’s a Muslim title, although the straw that broke the camel’s back was the saffron-coloured bikini with which Padukone was seen wearing in the song Besharam Rang (which translates from Hindi to shameless colour).

They accused Khan of insulting Hindus as saffron is a colour associated with their religion. And even the actress changes costumes several times during the video, they have called for the film to be banned unless the song is removed, protesters have torn up posters and burnt Khan’s effigies, a petition has been filed in a court accusing the cast of hurting the Hindu community.

Nevertheless, Shrayana Bhattacharya, author of a book called Desperately Seeking Shah Rukh Khan, says the star’s fans will “never reduce him to religion or political calculations. They will watch Pathaan first day first show because they have missed him on screen,” she adds.

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