Sunday, January 14, 2007

Shahrukh Khan versus Amitabh

While reports of the feud between Shahrukh Khan and Amitabh are furiously doing the rounds in the Bollywood press, I thought I'd take a long, hard and highly objective look at who would win a quintessential fan-slugout.

Success
BoxOfficeIndia tells us that while Amitabh decimated his competition to end up #1 for 15 years in a row between 1976 and 1981, ShahRukh has had to contend with Salman, Amir, Hrithik and Sunny Deol in his career for a total of 8 years in the top spot. Both have one entry apiece in the top 10 grossers of all time (Amitabh has Sholay, Khan has Dilwale...)
Winner: Amitabh

Looks
This is a tough one because both have bucked unconventional looks to make it to the top. Amitabh has the sad, brooding face and SRK has that broken nose bit. Over time, we've come to think of both as handsome, but let's admit it: poster boys, they aren't.
Winner: Tie

Asking Price
Although Amitabh was the first to hit a price of Rs 1 crore, SRK is rumored to charge Rs 6 crores per film. The only other actor who can do that in all of Bollywood is Amir. Amitabh's asking price: Rs 3 crore...tsk tsk, a few Lamborghini's and an apartment or two in Mumbai short of SRK - per film of course.
Winner: SRK

Dance
This is a no-contest. While SRK's bouncing is not going to give Hritik sleepless nights, it's often tinged with a madcap recklessness that make him a joy to watch, Amitabh famously has two left feet and dance directors knowingly work around this by giving him a few hip shakes and arm waves to get through a song. You could argue that Amitabh's patent jhatkas can evoke claps from the audience, but it's ada, not dancing.
Winner: SRK

Drama
Who IS the king of drama?! Amitabh defined the very parameters of modern mainstream Indian acting, spawning hordes of poor imitators. He can still stand perfectly still in a shot and let his eyes tell an entire story. SRK is solidly competent, but if a director needs to show pathos that can rip someone's heart apart, he needs to help SRK. You'll often see SRK shaking and nudging his head to convey emotion. On occasions, as in the final scenes of KANK, he can even be embarassingly bad.
Winner: Amitabh

Romance
SRK can flirt, tease, love and obsess all while never breaking step or interrupting arm flings and shoulder shrugs. He is the scoundrel with an open gaping wound through which his large, warm heart is visible for all to see. Amitabh's idea of romance was a bit of teasing (remember "Potti pataana hai fakut kaam apun ka"?) and then going back to Mr. Grumpy with arms in pockets again. Outside of some movies with Rekha, he looks like he's romancing himself most of the time. Want mass market proof? All of Amitabh's best attempts at romances have been flops.
Winner: SRK

Comedy
Anyone who has watched Amar Akbar Anthony will tell you: no one makes you laugh harder than Amitabh. He single handedly made comedians obsolete in Bollywood for years before Kader Khan reinvented the buffon as villian and later still Uday Chopra played the buffoon in Dhoom 2. SRK needs strong material to be funny. Give Amitabh silence and he'll still have you in splits.
Winner: Amitabh

Action
While SRK does well in action (see Don), Amitabh was the quintessential action star, relying on his trademark swagger in an era where there was no help from special effects and slick camera work. Nothing was more rousing to watch than the skinny angry one blowing away an army of goondas just by the sheer force of his anger. His terrific pause in the middle of a dialogue just before he got down to the business of kicking butt is still brilliant to watch.
Winner: Amitabh

Missteps
While SRK has excellent quality control, Amitabh has had to pay back old debts - both financial and emotional - resulting in some seriously misguided movies and commercials (Hajmola, anyone?). The fact that he is so sincere and acts his heart out in all of them only makes us cringe more.
Winner: SRK

Appeal
Who is the more popular of the two? While Amitabh's appeal crosses demographics, SRK pulls in more of the youth audience. Given time, SRK can be ageless too, but its hard to imagine him reaching the dizzying and sustained heights that Amitabh has achieved in his career.
Winner: Amitabh

Final Tally
Amitabh wins 5
SRK wins 4
1 tie
Ding, ding ding! Amitabh wins!

3 comments:

Kallu said...

That was candid analysis by clear hard core Amitab fan ;-).. I'll try to make Amitabh win margin bigger by adding this comment - "Asking Price" - I felt considering inflation in 70's and 80's..the valutaion of Amitab's remuneration might surpass what SRK charges now...but net wroth wise SRK might be the winner as Amitab lost much of his earnings in ABCL productions ..

Aspi said...

Good point about the inflation adjusted asking price, Kallu. I'm actually a fan of both now. After all they both made my favorite movie - Don.

Anonymous said...

What?? No comments re: the Ash-Abhi engagement?