Shah Rukh Khan is no stranger to public relations or publicity for that matter. He is, in fact, the bad-shah of the game having pushed the limits of publicity to another dimension altogether at a time in the film business when an actor’s work and awards (lobbied or paid for) did all the talking.
Sure, he has had publicists and managers looking after his business and brand value over the years, but the key strategist in upping the ante for his own brand has been SRK himself. He says when, he says how, he says who — simply because he knows the how, the when and the who all too well in the business.
So then, it does come as surprise that SRK’s shopping for a publicist to manage his public affairs and image, given that he pretty much orchestrates all that himself — just like a seasoned musical conductor at the world-class Berlin Philharmonica. The ease at which he plays out his media moves, with smart comments laden with sardonic charm that have quintessentially come to be associated with him, is something that comes naturally to him and no publicist can even try to emulate that, however hard they might try.
Being SRK’s publicist is possibly the biggest job opening in Bollywood in recent times and has been the conversation for months now. But even though many names are being dropped, deliberately or with practiced nonchalance, none seemed to have scored an official place in the king’s court, just as yet.
SRK’s current Public Relations company, Hype, continues to manage his media affairs. Getty Images
SRK’s current Public Relations company, Hype, continues to manage his media affairs, despite the rumours of him being on the lookout for a new publicist. SRK is an undisputed pioneer in marketing and selling his “brand” and over the years, Brand SRK has only gotten stronger and spread itself wearily thin in every area of the “sell’ so to speak – be it singing and dancing at weddings for a fee, which has become the business du jour in Bollywood after he paved the way or lending his name to anything that makes SRK even more visible than he already is.
Brand SRK does shake and take a tumble once in a while when he has his very public meltdowns, but then, almost immediately with all the blitzkrieg surrounding his latest public behaviour, he resurrects it back to a stable index, confounding the naysayers with his humourous, self-deprecating responses. SRK’s comebacks in the public eye to defend a particular situation are never scripted, like his films. He adds a heartfelt charm to them, which have you believing that they came from the depths of his soul, but no, it’s only his mind at work here.
But the big question remains — why does the king of all that he surveys want to hire a new publicist? Is it because his family man image, carefully constructed since his foray into the business, has taken a hit after his close friendship with Priyanka Chopra made headlines? Or his own PR skills are diminishing and getting predictably tiresome for the public? Or is it because he is just getting into too many scraps in the public eye, right from the Newark airport situation in the United States or the one at Wankhede stadium in Mumbai trying to protect his little daughter? Or simply because his relationships with his “friends” in the business are not so cosy anymore and he needs a person solely devoted to his brand enterprise and not just another famous name on their client roster? It could be either of these reasons or all of them for the new shift in his managerial coterie, if indeed he is looking for a new publicist.
Filmmaker Karan Johar is very close to his wife Gauri, and SRK and Karan don’t share the same equation they used to earlier on, so to share a publicist who works with Karan and him possibly is a deterrent too. Whatever the reason might be, being SRK’s media face would be a very exciting, not to mention an extremely challenging job for the contenders who are trying to land the job.