Tuesday, February 12, 2008

In Berlin, fans queued up to meet Shahrukh Khan

BERLIN: The King was inside while his subordinates waited patiently outside. They were young and old, fat and thin, men and women. But, for this King, there were more women than men and more young than old. They love him because “he is so flirtatious”. As one of them said: “He can even flirt with a pillar”.

They waited for hours to catch a glimpse of their new King, one who has begun to rule their hearts from several thousand miles away. Many of them carried his photograph, DVDs of his latest blockbuster, and a few carried books - the story from his film or his biography. A woman had even carried a small stool with her, to get a better view. At regular intervals they all shouted - in unison - Shah... Rukh, Shah... Rukh. It could have been at any place in India.

But, in fact, this was Berlin. A quiet Sunday, a theatre on Stresemannstrasse, about a kilometre from Potsdamer Platz, venue for the Berlin Film Festival. Shahrukh was here to address Berlinale Talent Campus, part of the festival. Inside, he was speaking about the ‘love’ film genre along with Nigeria’s Kate Henshaw Nuttall and Germany’s Maria Schrader. But, the crowd was there only for SRK. Most of them were Germans.

There were some Turkish men with dark hair, and women with scarves covering their heads, and about twenty South Asians. To passers by, it would appear as if Berliners have gone crazy. As a matter of fact, they have. German media reported that there were 20,000 enquiries for tickets for Om Shanti Om (screened as a part of the international film festival) and they were all sold out in seven minutes. Some waited outside the venue the entire night to get in.

Take for example, Alexandra Venetikidiz, a high school girl, who was there to catch a glimpse of SRK. She has seen Om Shanti Om over 20 times. Two years ago she hit upon a Shahrukh movie when she was looking for an Amitabh Bacchan film recommended by a friend. Now, she is a committed Shahrukh fan. She says she has seen all his movies. “I get DVDs from local shops or order it over the internet,” she said.

She was at Stresseman Strasse with about half-a-dozen friends, who seemed as excited as her about the Bollywood hero. “There is a huge internet forum for Shahrukh and th-at’s how we connect,” she said. She is relying on the internet to learn Hindi. “Indian movies are not good in the German language,” she said. But learning Hindi is not that difficult. “I have seen his movies so many times, and am familiar with many Hindi words,” she said. As if to prove the point, her friends - all Germans - hummed a bollywood song.

“This started about two years ago, and has been picking up since,” says Renu Gautam, a film maker born in Germany, who is shooting a documentary on Berlinale and the Shahrukh phenomenon. She and two others were ready to capture it during Germany’s biggest film festival: “You would be wondering what’s going on here.”

Gautam has spoken to a number of Germans to understand what’s behind the craze. “Many think he is exotic. He is so flirtatious, he can flirt with a pillar. They like it. In Germany, movies have no space for romance - they meet, kiss, go to bed and get married. In Bollywood, it’s different, and Germans love it. Many of them also like Bollywood movies as they are optimistic,” Gautam said.

That should not be surprising. Germany’s predominant mood appears to be pessimism - about the economy, about world affairs, about almost everything. Indian movies, with their colour, dance, music and eternal optmism, bring a whiff of fresh air. Obviously, not everyone is raving about Shahrukh Khan in Berlin, but his popularity is rising. Many would recognise his name. Media coverage is increasing.

Earlier, for Germans, for those who knew something about India, movies were about Satyajit Ray. Today, it’s Shahrukh Khan. Shahrukh’s popularity started with the Turkish population in Berlin - there are over 800,000 of them here. They have a liking for Indian movies and one could get dubbed versions in Turkish shops. Soon, a couple of theatres started showing these movies occasionally. Last year, a German TV channel, RNF, showed Bollywood movies, mostly Shahrukh Khan’s.

Hours had gone by and the crowd was still waiting. Whenever the door to the building opened, the decibel levels went up. Finally, at around quarter after twelve, the King appeared, dressed in a blue jeans and a long black jacket. The decibel level reached a new high. The crowd went wild jumping, swooning and craning their necks.

N.S. Ramnath, TNN

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Posted By Ivan Me ... at 7:22 PM
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    Tarun said...
    its a bautifull film. i like its song, and i like king khan. i am his bigest friend. he is cool film
    October 07, 2007 8:14 PM

    Anonymous said...
    All Myself and My Family were staying at the same hotel in Dubai as Sharukh and his family, he was also there with Chunky Pandey. We sat next to these guys at the swimming pool. Was quite dissapointed they didn't speak to us or look at us We saw them quite alot.
    September 27, 2007 8:40 AM

    Nili said...
    Om Shanti Om the biggest Movie of the year 2007.
    Shahrukh u are the king.
    August 27, 2007 9:14 AM

    Shan said...
    SRK You Rocks Forever
    August 27, 2007 9:12 AM

    Anonymous said...
    Cool Trailer............
    August 26, 2007 10:16 AM

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