As Published in SHE Magazine ’14
Power of a Common Man
By Koral Dasgupta
Price: Rs. 795
Publisher: Westland Ltd 2014
Available at: Liberty Books
Endearingly charming and exotically handsome, Shah Rukh Khan is the most celebrated face who upholds an unprecedented status within the celluloid world. It is not just his well-rounded acting abilities that contributed to his fandom but his thousand-watt dimpled smile, played a vital role at naughtily making his way into an onlooker’s heart.
Paying an ode to this global phenomenon, Power of a Common Man is written by Koral Dasgupta who demystifies her marketing theory and guide to Consumer Behavior to study “King Khan.” Shah Rukh Khan, is known as the face of numerous brands, path-breaking entrepreneur production house, VFX Studio, an IPL team and most importantly lead-actor of record breaking Bollywood films. Dasgupta, along with being a novelist and a keen observer of the Indian Cinema, is also an academic, management consultant and content editor by profession. Her research papers have been published in leading journals and presented at renowned B-Schools across India. Her Indian mythology inspired paintings has also often been corporate gifts for many organizations.
Beginning with her compelling narration and an overview of Consumer Behaviorism, Dasgupta notes that, “[consumer behavior caters] the study of the lifestyle, psychology, demography, and sociology of individuals, groups or organizations to understand why certain products are accepted and absorbed more than the others.” It broadly delves into the consumer’s psyche and background to understand what lies at the base of all purchase decisions. And thus, she brilliantly attempts to explore the brand value of Shah Rukh Khan in driving products and services to success in the marketplace and aims to understand what his films or communications or associations mean to the consumer.
Dasgupta evaluates the reason why Shah Rukh Khan remains to be the most sought after celebrity to endorse a particular brand is due to his “guy next door image [that] makes him accessible to the general masses and sends the message that every guy next door has the potential to ride on paranormal success.” She analyzes that the ‘imperfect’ commoners can relate to the confidence that Khan exudes while maintaining that he is ‘perfectly imperfect’ and still more successful than the others. Some of the brands SRK has endorsed over the years are Pepsi, Sprite, Nokia, Hyundai, Sunfeast, Videocon, Airtel, Emami, Nerolac Paints, Dish tv, Linc pens, D’decor, Lux, Frooti, Compaq, and Tag Heuer; all for which “his image cuts across all socio-economic classifications as his appeal does not get restricted to class, community, gender or age,” says Aditya Agarwal the Director of Emami Group of Companies.
The former half of the book discusses how Shah Rukh Khan is the best-selling product of his times and how he has changed, evolved and re-invented himself. While on one hand, he opted for Tag Heuer ads which capitalized his superstar aura, on the other hand, he boldly modeled for supposedly ‘feminine’ adverts like Lux, Fair and Handsome etc, setting a trend of its own despite criticisms. Dasgupta interlinks the business tool of the campaigns and schemes to utilize the star power and enthrall audiences at any cost, with the different facets of Shah Rukh Khan’s personality that has been used, expressed and elaborated on by marketers.
The latter half of the book excessively deals with the microanalysis of how Shah Rukh Khan rose to fame and may be the next Amitabh Bachchan of Indian Film Industry with projects like Don and Kon Banay Ga Crorepati under his belt. Dasgupta claims that, “Both [the actors had] their favorite on-screen names: Ajay and Vijay for Amitabh Bachchan; Raj and Rahul for Shah Rukh khan […] Both actors touched upon two vital longings of human psychology, one seeking fair social existence and the other demanding the fulfillment of innate desires that often goes beyond logical comprehension.”
While she offers a bulleted analysis of SRK’s possible target audience, where some of his movies are grouped together based on some common thread, she also ponders upon how his contemporaries till this day lack the correct balance of youth, romance and globalization which had been the three most critical factors to influence the film content of Shah Rukh Khan. More so, by cohesively dissecting and analyzing the SRK phenomenon, Dasgupta adds on that he is not only a symbol of utmost success and stardom but is also a family man, a patriarch, a secular human and a chivalrous gentleman. “While Shah Rukh Khan focused on achieving whatever he could in the business he understands, these associations have added considerable modifications to his image from time to time.”
Power of a Common Man beautifully meshes together textbook theories with filmy phenomenon and capture the readers’ interest in a lively manner. Dasgupta has included an open-letter to the actor himself, different advertisement pictures, comprehensive bullet points and a case study on SRK’s latest film, Chennai Express to present her analysis and propel the reader to develop their own perspectives regarding the marketing world. She concludes by saying that SRK has never failed in picking up clues from the market and moving with the times. Each time, he has made his best efforts to respond to change with a reinvention and repositioning of his business practices. Nonetheless, Khan’s growth has been vast, not only in stature, but also in terms of volumes. This book is especially recommended to SRK loyalists and business students.
Sum Up: A business perspective on a boy-next door who made it to the top.