Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan recently gave a charming Ted Talk in Vancouver addressing a host of topics including fame, the scrutiny of social media, and the importance of prioritizing love in all we do. As he spoke he showcased his witty sense of humor and wowed his multitude of fans. If you are among those who don’t recognize Shah Rukh Khan, keep in mind that a popularity survey once stated that 3.2 billion people across the globe know Kahn more than they know Tom Cruise. The 51-year-old romantic star and singer, also known as SRK, told the Ted audience, “I sell dreams and I peddle love to millions of people back home in India who assume that I’m the best lover in the world.”
SRK fondly recalls the relative simplicity of his upbringing in New Delhi, saying, “The framework of life was very very simple then to be honest. I thought you just ate what you got, and did whatever you were told to do…Most importantly, you were who you were, and you said what you thought.” In his twenties, he moved to the most populous city in India, Mumbai where his acting career quickly flourished. In fact, the movie roles poured in so consistently, he says:
“By the time I was forty, I was really flying. I was all over the place. You know I’d done fifty films by then and 200 songs. And I’d been knighted by the Malaysians. I’d been given the highest civilian honor by the French government…Humanity was soaring with me. We were both flying off the handle actually.”
Eventually, when the internet became popular, SRK became active on social media. Indeed, he currently has 24 million Twitter followers! However, Khan soon became sobered by the online outlet. He says: “Everything I said took a new meaning. Everything I did–good, bad, ugly–was there for the world to comment upon and judge. As a matter of fact, everything I didn’t say or do also, met with the same fate.” He tells of a disturbing false story that was reported about his children that was hurtful to his family. “And I started to feel that I could not be who I wanted, or say what I actually thought,” he admits. Overall, Khan says of the internet and humanity, “We had expected an expansion of ideas and dreams. We had not bargained for the enclosure of judgement.”
Continuing, he sees a lot in common between his personal struggles and mankind as he says, “Humanity is a lot like me. It’s an aging movie star, grappling with all the newness, wondering whether she got it right.” And he concludes his talk elevating the importance of love by insisting, “Mankind will never be the wiser about its future unless it is coupled with a sense of love and compassion for their follow beings.”
Besides acting and singing, SRK also produces film and is a television personality. Later this year, he will be hosting a TV version of Ted Talks in India called “Nayi Soch,” or “New Thinking.”
Here is a Khan performing in one of his many popular roles.