Shah Rukh Khan Is The Best Part Of DDLJ, Playing A Cis Het Man Raj With Grace & Humanity

He's very uncomfortable with the boorish, rifle-toting, Patiala-peg swigging alpha male played by Parmeet Sethi or the grumpy sanskaari patriarch Amrish Puri.

Maybe now it’s different, one hardly goes out to know better. But when one was younger, there was a distinct gender divide when one went to parties or gatherings.

The men or those who wished to be known as ‘real’ men of the world hung out with each other having a drink, talking shop, while the women hung out with each keeping a sharp eye on ‘their men’, counting their drinks for them, walking up to them hissing a sharp command of, ‘that’s enough!’

Some of the women would drink alcohol mixed into orange-looking liquids and others would look at those women suspiciously. Eventually some men would drink enough to start dancing badly, usually to Bollywood music or the English types to Summer of 69.

It still happens off and on. Men will dance only when aided by dutch courage, whereas the women will be dancing from the outset. But very rarely, one will find a special kind of man. The one who will hang around with the women and dance with them, and be very comfortable, interested, actively listening, and not really to hit on them or pick them up.

No one epitomised this more than SRK in Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge

He’s very uncomfortable with the boorish, rifle-toting, Patiala-peg swigging alpha male played by Parmeet Sethi or the grumpy sanskaari patriarch Amrish Puri.

Uncharacteristically for a ‘real’ man, going completely against all sorts of bro-codes, SRK throughout the film overtly or covertly mocks these types of men.

He loves hanging out with the women, makes a point of getting to know all the women, the youngest to the oldest, personally. He alone gives dimension to their personalities. The bua, the bebe, the mother, the sister.

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This role of SRK, now that I think of it, was revolutionary

Raj of DDLJ loved hanging out with the girl gang, without becoming toxic. This was a regular cis male character, but Shah Rukh Khan brought humanity to the character.

I think in real life too, SRK is a Raj, whose bestie is a cis woman, who really gets along with his daughter, doesn’t patronise the women, and is not only okay with their equality, but is also comfortable if they are his superiors.

I usually have nothing nice to say about cis men (do you really need to ask why?), but I am lucky to have one or two such men in my life. They are not pushovers by any means, just seem to have transcended the confines of their conditioning.

There is one scene, in the song Mehndi Laga Ke Rakhna, in which SRK is dancing from the groom’s side. At one point as the music reaches a crescendo, he races across the terrace to the bride’s side, snatches a dupatta, and begins to dance like them, with them.

It is so heart-warming, like he always wanted to be there, but has to pretend to be a macho dude, and suddenly he can no longer help it as the music calls him.

A million things are wrong with this movie, but not SRK.

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About the Author

Hema Gopinathan

Hema Gopinathan left a blight of a corporate career to homeschool her two children. A teacher trained in the Waldorf/ Rudolf Steiner pedagogy, a writer, an artist, a crocheter, Hema spends half her time in read more...

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