Turn On Your Star Light

Secret of Stardom Shah Rukh Khan

So here’s what I experienced last night:

Travelling by private jet. Check.
Police escort and bouncers. Check.
Being chauffeured in a Rolls Royce Phantom. Check.
Partying with people considered legends. Check.
Twelve thousand screaming fans. Check.

Not many of us experience the superstar life, let alone all in one evening, but I did when I travelled from Mumbai to Chennai along with actor Shah Rukh Khan to receive the Chevalier Sivaji Ganesan award last night. It was a grand event being televised for an estimated global audience of ten million viewers. Shah Rukh was being flown 1300 kms just for a few hours. And as I waited in the whisper-quiet lounge of the Corporate Aviation terminal for Shah Rukh, who was late as usual, I marveled at what a big deal it all was going to be.

But when I look back, what moved me finally were the quiet, almost unnoticed things that Shah Rukh did along the way. The little jokes he shared with the security officers at the private airport. Like the macho security guard whose nametag read “R Meena”. Shah Rukh checked with him about his name again, and asked him where he was from, and said with a grin, “Don’t mind, sir, but in my film, the heroine is called Meena.” As Shah Rukh gave him a brotherly half-hug, the man glowed at the attention not many billionaires gave him.

On the plane, a super mid-sized Challenger 605, he remembered to ask the pilot if the pictures they had taken the last time had turned out well. And reminded the flight attendant to please get more of the little candy sweets he had fallen in love with. As we entered, the cabin was still being fumigated and clouds of surreal smoky mist floated across our knees. When the flight attendant began to apologize profusely, he stopped her, “No, I don’t mind – except that I start feeling that I am doing a love song.”

When we landed, there was a stunning black Rolls Royce Phantom waiting for us. Sitting inside, Shah Rukh was amused to discover that the Rolls Royce had a mute button for the car stereo embedded on the back seat window. With the wide-eyed glee of a child, he pressed it again and again. And we spoke about the joy he gets from the quiet charity he does as he gets older and his plans to spend more time with it. We spoke about prayers and bringing up our children to remember their parents for what they contributed to the planet.

When our car pulled up at the stadium gate, he was still in his travelling clothes – frayed jeans, t-shirt, sneakers and unkempt hair – and was unhappy by the security phalanx pushing away all photographers and cameras till he changed into his formal suit backstage. “This is how I look,” he said with a smile. “What’s wrong if they photograph me?”

A quick change in the van later, he emerged wearing a cravat and a bow-tie and a jet black suit and slicked back hair, looking every inch a superstar. The crowd roared as he walked in and he waved back and sat on his front-row round table. When I pointed out to him an A-list director sitting a few round tables back with his family, Shah Rukh got up and walked into the crowd to him and hugged him. The director sent me an SMS a few seconds later: Wow, I can’t believe Shah Rukh Khan hugged me.

What I will remember about the evening was his willingness to do things far beyond what was expected of him. That is a lesson worth learning: how to give love so totally to others, that their love rushes back to us, as if to fill the space created. How to stop calculating, conserving, protecting and simply become an open-hearted blessing to every person you meet for a little while. To give with the utter confidence that the Universe invariably returns the same goodness. Or even better, to give like one to whom the Universe has already given too much goodness.

At the stadium, on the hottest evening of May, with the temperature above 40 degrees centigrade, it was so hot that within a few minutes Shah Rukh looked like he had been drenched in a thunder shower. But his smile didn’t fade. Neither did the spring in his step when the awards segment and speeches by others continued for some twenty-odd minutes. He danced with little children on stage asking them to please cover for his bad dancing. He joked, complimented, thanked, bowed and won hearts of the twelve thousand fans.

What I loved was that little moment that happened when, after he received the award, we were on our way back to the vanity van. A young girl was leaning against a wall with her back to us, talking on her phone. Shah Rukh mischievously tapped her on the shoulder and walked past without looking back. When she half-turned and saw who had just tapped her, the phone almost fell out of her hand.

This is not to say that Shah Rukh has been a paragon of virtue all his life, or even all evening. He was distracted, snappish, and even grumpy at times – but when he turned on his heart-light, he was a joy to behold. I knew that some of the generous promises he made would not be met. Some of the humility was public necessity. But in that moment, what mattered was that even that came from a space of wanting to give joy.

As the midnight rolled into the next day, the tiredness slowly began to tell in the way his eyes strained and lines deepened. But he somehow didn’t allow it to crystallize into a ‘no’ to the universe. Though he was under medication for a severe back spasm and due for surgery in a few weeks, he stayed till four am – till their pilot called to remind them they were running out of landing clearance time. At the after party, he posed for pictures with every fan who requested for it – other South Indian actors and directors, screaming girls from the awards show crew, glowing wives of executives, young starlets, reporters, police officials, random fans… Finally, even the photographer who was taking the pictures requested for a keepsake picture.

When it was all done, I dropped him to the airport. It was amusing to see the bleary-eyed terminal come alive with heads turned and voices whispered: “Is it…? Really…?!!” From the glass frontage I could see Shah Rukh, dead-tired and eyes squinting with sleep, beginning yet another series of greetings as he walked with his team to his aircraft. After a few hours of sleep, he would be up for his shoot in another city. Beginning yet another day of the superstar life.

As I drove back from the airport alone, the Rolls Royce felt large and roomy and… empty. The secret to the superstar life, I learnt, is not in the $2m car or the $22m jet, it is in giving superstar-sized doses of love. It’s in turning on your heart-light. And the quantum of joy we give others is what is reflected back to us, whether we are businessmen, politicians, healers, social workers or actors. And giving joy to those around us is something we all can do right where we are. Whether we are stars or not, we can all turn on our star-light.

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30 thoughts on “Turn On Your Star Light

  1. Wow great article for great human being of love….well written sir…shahrukh sir is such a humble person…well read n inspired

  2. Brings a lump to my throat reading this. Since I became a fan, I know that I have become a better person, thanks to the love he (SRK) has shown me. Now I try hard every day to make others happy, just like he does. Working in a library makes it easy. Just a smile and a kind word can go far. Many people come to a library just for that kind word. We are the ‘Hub’ of the community. He is an inspiration to us all. Thank you so much Alif, for giving us this story, and giving us hope for mankind. Your blogs are always inspiring.

  3. Thanks so much for sharing this with us on Twitter who have felt abandoned by SRK’s exit. It’s wonderful to know he is still somewhere shining his “star-light” to people who love him, and that we all can do the same in our lives as well. This quote seemed right: “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” Dr Seuss

  4. Realy every time i read something u wrote about my godfather srk i feel that you realy love him 100% True love just like us not like the other fake friends

    tell him that we miss him alot and that he always inside our heart and mind

    respect sir

  5. @superAalif
    I am @rena_raafat
    sir thank you so much from the bottom of my heart 🙂 you gave a chance to know that all I was thinking about my KING @iamSRK is a true!
    He give the universe all his smiles,love,effort,time,health….
    just please please please sir I am asking one favour, please ask SRK to take care of his health!
    Please we care about SHAH RUKH indeed not just about the Megastar SHAH RUKH ^_^
    And do tell him that a doctor from Egypt named Rena loves @iamSRK more than the life itself 🙂
    Thanks again sir.

  6. This made me go so weak in my knees, esp. the last paragraph… “turning on the heart-light”…wondering how that would feel like, 24×7. What if we were given all this superstar-dom for a day…how would it transform us…what a lesson in being love SRK is! Thank you for this awesome insider view….for revealing something so shiny and fragile about this man…much love. 🙂

  7. waw AALIF sir, you make me smile and cry in the same time . thanks to Allah ، Almighty gave us this wonderfull man (SRK) in our life, we miss him on twitter so much we hope he come back when he is ready, all love and respect to the most humble man ShahRukh Khan

  8. It’s the sheer beauty of Sir Khan’s soul, that fills distances between himself and the rest of the world. The amazing beauty of it all is that after he has touched you, one begins to feel the distance between him & his own self shrink. And he deserves a world of beauty, for enabling people to feel so much love! I pray he should know no pain & that beauty, harmony & serenity should follow him.
    Thank you so very much Mr Aalif, for sharing this experience. I felt the amazing privilege to have a bit of his company’s light, through your beautiful recollection. Very gracious of you to have allowed somebody like me this gift, thank you!

  9. I Really don’t know what to say…not every body can be as great as SRK in everything that he does…some ppl are born with a great soul that has been touched by God befor their birth…and Shahrukh is 1 of them…i’m a 70 yrs old mom…but even his magic didn’t leave me!…i only hope,befor i die,1 day i bring all my children & come to india to meet shahrukh…thanku for sharing ur wonderful experience with us…God bless u.

  10. I always believe that Shah Rukh is the definition of love in human form.
    I’m glad that every year the people come out with new awards to honor him with.
    God bless him.

  11. Thank u so much Aalif Sir for sharing a beautiful experience… SRK is God sent ANGEL to me..he is MAGICAL… I am re-reading this and the tears just dont stop.. he is seriously an amazing Person..and Blessed are those who experience the magic of SHAH RUKH KHAN.. I am out of words as always … But Thank U so much Aalif Sir for sharing this… I always keep eading most of your blogs and they are so full of postivity.. 🙂
    To SRK immense respect & love always 🙂

  12. @super_aalif.. its a very nice article sharing the experience of the super star backstage, we would never get a chance to know all this with your sharing the personal space with SRK..please do keep sharing articles like this in the future..SRK is surely a superstar and humble man..most admiring..would love to know more of his energetic moments..thanx again.

  13. From @ferrwa_srk ..
    What a Lovely article !!!
    Tears were rolling down my face as i was reading it :’) ..i already knew Shah Rukh is a Very good human being better than most ..that is one of the reason i Love him :’) loved that part when he tapped on the little girl’ shoulder .. I Love This Man Shah Rukh ,stardom can come to anyone but its how u behave in public & in home with that & Shah Rukh is a complete example..OMG im still crying :’)
    Please Alif Bhai ,give him my love ,do tell him that a girl named Ferwa loves him so much !!

  14. Dear Aalif Surtis I just read your article again and the way you describe Shah Rukh Khan and your experience touches my heart and soul. You just have turned on your own star light giving so much joy and love by writing this very lovely sweet soulful piece, finding touching words to describe a superstar who actually is one of the biggest sweethearts I have ever heard of. So very down to earth and a very generous humble man and able to make us all happy and in love with one smile one nice word or one little joke. 


    There is something very touching, which is that certain people are born with a giving soul a giving heart and SRK is one of them – touched by God –there is for sure only one of a billion like him! Being open hearted and finding always a smile and a friendly word for others (strangers or family and friends) and giving them a feeling of comfort and joy is in todays world – which became so thought, selfish and roughness – a very special gift. No weakness, as a friend of mine always tells me (“Beatrice you are too nice too friendly, people will never take you serious if you don’t become a bit tougher”) but in my opinion a God given gift and a strength! For those like SRK and others who are giving from all their heart and soul it’s nothing special but self-evidence, what makes it so very special and amazing is when this love we give is given back to us.

    So it’s like a chain-reaction to give love and receive it and to give again….and that is this star light every one of us has in their hearts – some showing it unconsciously, others hiding it. We should show a smile and gratitude to all those who touch our hearts and souls every day, whatever ordinary the situation might be and mostly it all begins with a smile and a “Thank you”!

    Thank you my dearest Aalif Surti from the bottom of my heart! Yours Béatrice

    • Dear Beatrice…

      I completely agree with every word of yours…U need to a true person need to love onself only then we can spread the same love to others… 🙂
      And yes Thank U tonnss To Aalif Sir for all that postivity you spread through your writings.. 🙂
      respect and love always 🙂
      Pallavi

  15. Thank You so much for sharing your experience! was really overwhelmed reading this. Shah Rukh Khan is such a magnificent person who radiates joy and love. His humility is so heart warming. He is such a genuine and sincere superstar!!!! Today being Mother’s Day I would like to thank his mom from the bottom of my heart for giving us Shah

  16. I love love love Shah Rukh! As a white lady, not many of my friends know who he is and I don’t often see headlines about him. So it is extra Wonderful to read about him and his True Star qualities. Awesome!

  17. Shahrukh (Chourouk in Arabic) means sunrise!
    and what the world would be without the sunrise?

    This is an exceptional man (I will not repeat his praise, it would take too many pages & you already know what i think of him ;-)) I mean he is very demanding of himself, he makes ​​enormous sacrifices, I think I couldn’t do the hundredth of what he does! That’s why, what he gives us, he gets it tenfold ! he deserves it and the deserve is a,precious,bright & imperishable asset!
    I ‘m sure the life of superstar should not be easy every day, but “A life of sacrifice is the supreme summit of the art and full of a true joy -Gandhi”
    Thank you dear Aalif for this sharing

  18. when it comes to SRK every thing is shining like the pure gold , no wonder why he is so big or why he is the king or why we love him as we love our families.

    With all the stupid and fake news that we hear every day about him here it comes , some thing like this honest and shining article that makes us believe more and more that we are in the right side and our king is a king in every thing not only the king of acting but also the king of pure hearts

    we know that he has a pure heart full of love and hope
    he is our shining star in the darkest night
    we dont need any prove that he is the best but smtimes u need to become closer to ur beloved ones thats why we wait for his interviews and news

    but I never believe in any news unless it is directly from his mouth in video interviews or in his personal tweets

    and as a big fan i always love the ppl who love him and as i see, you love him alot so i love you too but ofcourse not as much as him 😀

    to me he is like an adobted father , he didnt adobte me but i am the 1 who did adobte him 😀
    he is the 2nd man in my life after my father
    in other words he is my godfather

    thanx sir for sharing this amazing day with us, u made us feel closer to him
    but somtimes i think that he should care more about him self and his health , we want him to be happy just the way we feel when we see or hear him
    as a friend ask him to be more careful about his body and health and never care about those stupid and fake news becuz his fans dont believe them only his haters will believe them and as he know they already haters and he used to them , there is no thing new about them 😀 . he should keep walking, keep rising and keep smiling . first for him self and 2nd for his fans

    send him my love and respect sir
    and thanx again for that amazing article. 🙂

  19. This why i admire him. He is my inspiration and i want to thank you for taking the time to write the article. You surely are a great friend that SRK has. God bless you both always.

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