Readers' Digest

When TED met stardom at the crossroads of wit and humour

India’s most popular actor and sharp talker extraordinaire, Shah Rukh Khan, delivered with ease – sans prompter and intimation – TED’s wonted 18-minute talk with panache imbued with solicitous musings on TED 2017’s theme – The Future You.

It was funny, emotional and honest talk, by “an ageing superstar” that will tug at your heartstrings.

And, naturally, the star oozed charisma of unmatched level and floored all with his words. From talking about traces of his life to giving people his two cents on life and more, Shah Rukh Khan was on point!

The BUZZ around

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1) He spoke of how India and its capacious plurality had ennobled him. The love that ‘बादशाह’ has received from the teeming millions is incomparable. As one of his famous dialogue says, “Yaad rakhna ki duniya ke kisi kone mein koi khush hai, kyun ki tum khush ho” and it is very much visible as the Indians entwined him in their illimitable endearment over time.The country has adored him with all their hearts as they entitled him as the king of romance for more than two decades.

He is a habit that they can’t do with, a temptation they can’t resist, a soul without which they can’t live. With due amazement, the actor quoted that, “The land I come from is the source of inexplicable but very simple spirituality. In its immense generosity, India decided somehow that I, the Muslim son of a broke freedom fighter who accidentally ventured into the business of selling dreams, should become its king of romance, the ‘बादशाह’ of Bollywood’ the greatest lover the country has ever seen.”


2) This succinctly summarises the ups and downs, the many epiphanies and myriad realisations he faced in this odyssey. With the less likely humbleness of self-deprecating arrogance, Khan talks about how, even now, as an ageing but certified superstar, he has to grapple with oncoming obsolescence – with not fully understanding a completely new world around him, built by a newer generation of actors, workers, and craftsmen. Two of the most striking moments in his speech were when he talks about discovering social media, and the way he conflates his journey with that of humanity as a species. Humanity, as he says, is like an ageing movie star trying to deal with all the newness around it – and with this extravagant proclamation, he somehow still grounds himself and his anxieties of fading, of losing whatever it is that makes him stand out. Khan, being the showman he is, shamelessly and openly exhibits his “self-obsession” through this elaborate metaphor. And yet, he paints a picture of a resolute yet vulnerable person because as we all say, “ बड़े बड़े देशो में ऐसी छोटी छोटी बाते होती रहती है Senorita|”

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3) The night he lost his father as a 14-year old was the night when a new Shah Rukh was born and since then he has struggled his way through.

Starting his career from learning the art of luring hearts of millions at an acting school, he moved forward by brushing up his skills at a theatre. To carve out a niche in the versatile Indian cinema he left no stone unturned, right from working in TV soaps to playing the anti-hero. Having vivid remembrance of the old times, the actor says with much gratefulness that, “I experienced the miracle of human innovation and cooperation, and my own creativity, when supported by the resourcefulness of this collective endeavour, catapulted me into superstardom.”

As he says that he was no different from any other being having desires and dreams,  but the difference came with the piece of crowdsourced love and his inimitable wit and charm.

Today as the actor proudly says “ I’d done 50 films by then and 200 songs, and I’d been knighted by the Malaysians. I had been given the highest civil honor by the French government. Humanity was soaring with me. We were both flying off the handle actually”, one can only amaze to his sheer hard work and dedication.

अगर किसी चीज़ को दिल से चाहो तो पूरी कायनात उसे तुमसे मिलाने की कोशिश में लग जाती है| Isn’t it?

he rightly said!

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4) The provocation for his distrust of social media, it turns out, is the lurid sensationalization of his personal life onto the world. Social Media,  a sewage pit of self-appointed and self-important digital soldiers playing the biased dictator of the unbiased democracy, provides one with the equal access to noise and voice. Through his hilarious anecdotes about discovering acronyms towards the beginning of his Twitter career, he puts into words the experience of entering the vast and intimidating avenues of virtuality for the first time – full of expectations and potential and a simultaneous reminder of the collective power of humanity scented with the limitation of a lone being.

Along with the world becoming a global village, this enhanced connectivity has enabled talks and ideas, ugly as well as revolutionising to spread like fire easily but with such acceptance comes along the appalling side of conjecture, doubt and distrust as well. The actor bluntly states that “I started to feel that I could not be who I wanted to be or say what I actually thought, and humanity at this time completely identified with me. I think both of us were going through our midlife crisis, and humanity, like me, was becoming an overexposed prima donna.”


5) There is nothing that is as powerful as the present moment. With so many opportunities, that can change a life in a matter of seconds, so fleeting and yet brings in a lifetime of consequences. The power of now is certainly unbelievable.

The present you is now. This now is audacious.This present moment is the practice of mindfulness and creativity.

Realising the multiplicity with an utter sense of the complexity of existence one might only wonder how the ends and the origins of everything merge into one continuum, in that one individual sphere which is the source of all the thoughts and thinking. Living in the present can recast your entire thought process and enable you to explore beyond and infinite because as he says,

Kal ho na ho
“Har ghadi badal rahi hai roop zindagi
Chaanv hai kabhi, kabhi hai dhoop zindagi
Har pal yahan
Jee bhar jiyo jo hai samaa
Kal ho naa ho”


6) Love is a state of being and as the actor suggests that our existence as humans is due to our capacity to love as he compared the “capacity to love” to be much “akin to godliness”. It is this quality that erases prejudice and moves us to forgive. With no boundaries, no walls, love holds no record of misgivings but believes in second chances. For when one practice love and observe the difference that one act of love can make, the change is priceless, indescribable.

And in that one moment, we get a glimpse of the power contained in each and every one of us, the power, not to change the world, but to change a part of the world which  then works in unison to change the world because as the dialogue say,

ज़िंदगी प्यार देने और प्यार लेने का नाम है, और कुछ नही|


7) He applies some trigger to build his message. He mentions that we should not build walls and that faith should not be used to terrify people. Instead of building barriers, one must focus energy into dissolving the barriers, releasing people from what is considered unacceptable and hence make the world a better place to live in after all.

Instead of using faith and religion, to create discord amongst adherents of different religions or denominations, one must motivate others to walk with unity. With motivation, there comes initiative bundled up with direction, courage, energy, and the persistence to follow your goals and this positivity, if deployed in the righteous direction, can do exuberant miracles.


8) Aspiring of a world full of love and affection the actor carves love as “akin to godliness” and that is his “justification for being there” says the world’s most famous lover.

He believes that there is a reason that his audience wants him to love and that is to replicate it back in their life. Accepting being “completely, wholly, self-obsessively in love with itself”, the actor reflects that he is not ashamed to have dedicated his life honouring love, to be the ambassador of it, as he dreams of the world, “which is it’s own best lover”, as he encapsulated.

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