Was Shahrukh Khan’s turn in Dear Zindagi a gracious gesture for a superstar to let newcomer Alia Bhatt take the leading role or was the entire project just a warm-up run for his real blockbuster Raees? The 2015-2016 phase has not been a kind one to Shahrukh. We had the debacle Fan, which only seemed to be an ego-massage for the Bollywood badshah, but audiences were clearly irked by the flimsy flick. It didn’t help that Fan was release right after Dilwale, which saw our favourite couple Kajol and SRK reunite and had gotten audiences all excited. The promise of the reunion fell flat and the film was a critical and commercial disappointment.
Even the most dedicated SRKians wondered if Shahrukh could get back on track. In this atmosphere, a Raees release would have met with a more cautious approach by viewers, who’d begun to believe that their beloved icon was content churning out below-par films. Enter Dear Zindagi – an indie film, barely costing Rs 26 crore, where Shahrukh does an ‘extended cameo’. People took notice. We got to see SRK looking his age, not doing his usual mainstream romances, mentoring Alia Bhatt’s character – basically actually acting. ‘Shahrukh is back!’ fans said on various social media and then came the trailers and first looks of Raees.
And let’s not forget that Raees was initially slated to clash with Salman Khan’s Sultan on Eid, but instead got delayed and is facing the far lesser threat of Kaabil next year. Had it not been for Dear Zindagi, the only screen presence SRK would have gotten this year would have been the underwhelming flick Fan. Dear Zindagi not only kept the star’s face fresh in the audience’s minds, but also served as a safe buffer between a box office dud and what seems to be a real money-maker, Raees.