The Shahrukhis of Vienna: Full transcript

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The Shahrukhis of Vienna: Full transcript

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New Delhi:  Meet Shahrukhis, the German speaking fans of King Khan. They talk about Shahrukh, collect his memorabilia, watch his films together, dance to his film songs and plan their next visit to meet Shahrukh. Many of them have even visited India for his birthday.

Here's the full transcript of the NDTV documentary on the Shahrukhis of Vienna:

26 year old Marlene is the first Shahrukhi we meet in Vienna, Austria.

Shah Rukhi is a term coined by German speaking fans of Shah Rukh Khan to describe themselves.

Marlene works as an office assistant and she is taking us home to her one bedroom apartment uptown.

Marlene's private world  is minimalistic, except for one ornamentation - Shah Rukh Khan.

She has a collection of coffee mugs, posters, Indian movie magazines, DVDs, biscuit packets, almost any item emblazoned with Shah Rukh Khan's face.

Facing Marlene's bed is a giant cutout of  'Om Shanti Om'.

Marlene Zachs a resident of Vienna says about the giant cutout: I bought it from an E Bay auction. I first saw it at the Berlinalle function in 2008. Shah Rukh signed it for all the people in Berlin. It was for a good deed.

NDTV: How much did you pay for it?

Marlene: In Euros, I would say about 300 Euros.

NDTV: And you thought it was money well spent?

Marlene: Of course, of course. For Shah Rukh I can give everything.

NDTV: What can you do for Shah Rukh?

Marlene: Shah Rukh means a lot to me, I want to do everything for him. He is such a good human being. I like him so much.

When I saw him, I was sort of crazy. He is so fantastic. I wanted to meet this man. I wanted to see him. When I first saw him at the Berlin airport, I didn't know he would be there at that time.  I just touched him one time to see if this man could be real.

NDTV: Do you like other stars of the Hindi film industry?

Marlene: Yes I like Abhishek Bachchan, Hrithik Roshan, Vivek Oberoi. There are so many I like.

NDTV: Then what makes Shah Rukh so different? What do you think is the best thing about Shah Rukh?

Marlene: He is a great human being. He is not only a brilliant actor, he is always there for his family, his wife and kids. He takes out so much time for his fans and his friends. He is always so nice...that's why he is called King Khan.

Marlene: This is a picture of Shah Rukh and me. It was at the C Carnival 2009. I met him a few times. He was there for three days and I met him every day and got many autographs from him. It was really really nice.

The C Carnival was happening in London.

Marlene: I have spoken to him many times at the C Carnival. It was on the stage that the fans got a chance to meet him personally for a few moments and I was also on the stage. I talked a little with him and he signed a few pictures for me.

NDTV: Did he ask about you?

Marlene: Yes, yes, he is very interested in people. Maybe that's the reason I like him so much. He is so friendly and interested in other people.

Marlene has not only been to Berlin and London to meet her screen idol, she has also flown to India.

Marlene: I've been to India only once. I remember it was in November 2009. I was there for his birthday. It was 2nd November and I was there to greet him outside Mannat. It was beautiful.

Marlene was accompanied by other Shahrukhis from Vienna.

Marlene: I have ten friends who also love Shah Rukh like me. We were all together in India.

NDTV: Are these people together with you since school?

Marlene: No, no...I found them because of Shah Rukh. It was at a forum that we got to know each other. We started meeting each other and now we are good friends because of Shah Rukh.

Marlene: We meet sometimes at the shop, sometimes at home, either they come to me or I go to them. Sometimes, we just meet in a café.

NDTV: What are the things you like to do together?

Marlene: Talking about Shah Rukh! We always talk about Shah Rukh, watch movies together, plan our next trips to see Shah Rukh.

Bollywood Gandhi Video Store has played a pivotal role in bringing Sharukhis together in Vienna.

The store is owned by 40 year old Satish Gandhi, an immigrant from Haryana who has worked his way up - from being a newspaper vendor to a businessman.

When we visit the store we meet 51 year old Maria. She is Hungarian and works in a bank.

Maria Grofne: It is very difficult to put it into words why he is so special and unique. I think that on the one side, if you meet him personally, he is a normal guy, honest like you and me. But his presence is a magic. If you watch his films, it is not only his great performances, but also you get to love him as a person. I can actually say that the whole family is a Shah Rukh fan. Shah Rukh is kind of a family member.

Maria says she watches a Shah Rukh movie every day.

Maria: I watch about half an hour, not the whole film as I do not have the time. I watch them in Hindi. It's also very important that I hear his voice.

Maria: We went to Mumbai last year for his birthday. We wanted to be there once, once in a lifetime at least. And it was a great experience.

Orsolya Kosa: I think he is a very good actor. He has played many, many different roles and he had to express so many different emotions. I think he is a good happy person. He touches people's hearts. He is also very simple and modest.

Shah Rukh's Austrian fans discovered him in November 2004 when 'Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham' was telecast by a private German channel. It was the first Indian film to be shown and it was dubbed in German.

Fascinated by the Indian actor, viewers searched the internet, to learn about his movies, about him and his family.

The store became popular as Shah Rukh Khan DVDs were readily available here.

Satish Gandhi, owner, Bollywood Gandhi Store: Ninety per cent of our customers are Austrians, Yugoslavs, Turkish, Arabs, Iranis, and Afghanis. Indians are just 10 per cent.

The fans belong to different age groups and to different sections of society.

Christina Wininger: My husband is from Syria and from childhood he is a Bollywood fan. He loves Amitabh Bachchan, Rishi Kapoor and all of them. I am from Austria.

Christina: I think he gives all his heart when he is acting - his energy - he is so alive. Also when you see a film which is not so good, but with Shah Rukh it becomes amazing. He gives life to the film. His personality becomes like the character he plays in the film. When I see a film of Amitabh Bachchan - he is Amitabh Bachchan, but Shah Rukh is Raj, Rahul, Surinder...he is that person.

Christina: My favourite film is 'Main Hoon Na'. It was the first film I saw. And this movie is so great because it has everything - comedy, tragedy, love story, action, also politics - it is also about how you should like one another and that there should not be hate between the countries.

Michaela Wininger, Christina's sister in law: I like his acting very much, because the people who see him in the film feel emotional. He plays his roles whole-heartedly. He gets into the roles he plays.

Sarah Sannoufeh, Christina's daughter in law: He looks good, he is a very good actor. I like him, I love him.

The Shah Rukh cult is bringing in a multicultural influence into a society that is viewed by some as becoming increasingly xenophobic. Two years ago, nearly 30 per cent of Austrians voted for two far right parties that encouraged so called genuine Austrians to believe they were victims of foreigners or immigrants who take away their money and undermine their culture.

Christina Wininger: I like it that people have started to love Bollywood. It's difficult to explain because the Europeans like only other Europeans or Americans. Now they are great fans of someone who is not from Europe or America. Its wonderful. Its difficult to explain if you are not living here, if you are not a foreigner here.

The popularity of Indian actors like Shah Rukh Khan has brought in winds of change and creativity to the continent.

A feeling that immigrants do not just take up jobs, they also add to the culture, to the fermentation of ideas, is now growing.

Orsolya says she feels 'Indian' in her blood and Shah Rukh has made her love everything Indian, including Indian dancing and food.

She dances to Indian songs dressed in full Indian costume.

Satish Gandhi: I have a hobby room where the fans meet. I play Shah Rukh movies and arrange drinks for them. It's free of cost. I am overwhelmed by the fact that Austrians are watching Indian movies, that they are accepting our culture, wearing our clothes. I feel happy and my heart fills with joy.

In February this year, the Shahrukhis decided to go to Berlin for the premier of 'My Name is Khan'.

Satish Gandhi: We were standing outside the hotel for eight hours - from 3 pm to 11pm. It was minus 8 degrees and our hands and feet were swollen. I had accompanied the Austrian fans. I thought they were mad but actually they are really good. Don't ask me how we spent eight and a half hours! We didn't leave because we knew Shah Rukh could come out any time. When he came out at 11.30 pm, the first thing he did was to apologise. We appreciated that. He said he was busy doing interviews inside the hotel. He spoke to each one of us, shook our hands and allowed us to take photographs with him. I realised that day that it is not so easy to become a fan. Similarly it is not that simple to become a star. His interest in us was genuine.

Shah Rukh Khan:  Wherever I go in Europe, sometimes I feel people won't know me and then I go for a function or a conference and suddenly at the airport you  have Germans and Austrian and Polish people who come to meet me, and it's very very touching. I am deeply touched by this and very thankful. I hope they keep liking me like this.

At Vienna University, we meet Prof Elke Mader, Vice Dean of the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology. The 56 year old academic has been studying the extensive fan networks in German speaking areas.

Prof Elke Mader: They build a lot of relationships between the movies and the stars and their everyday lives, and they also connect with others.

There is a huge online community which connects people and fans in different places. In German speaking areas the biggest one is called the Bollywood forum. One of the forums is Swiss based and has about six thousand topics and 800 thousand postings on Bollywood. But the majority, the largest section of it is on Shah Rukh. We have lots of different threads where people discuss certain topics, which are of course all his movies, there are also general chats on him and about him as a person. Everything that is news or documentary is collected. All his 'tweets' are translated into German. Lots of Bollywood fans who do not speak English rely on others who translate every word, every article on Shah Rukh into German.

From September 30 to October 2, sociologists, cultural historians, film experts and other scholars are meeting for an international conference on Shah Rukh Khan and Global Bollywood at the Vienna University. Prof Mader, who is the principal organiser, says that Shah Rukh Khan is the first ambassador of Bollywood for the new European audiences.

Prof Elke Mader: The conference will focus on Shah Rukh in particular as a global player, as somebody who more than others today is extremely significant for a globalised Bollywood. We will be focussing on several topics within this. We will be focussing on Shah Rukh and his importance for the South Asian diaspora. There are scholars coming from the US, Canada and from European countries. Most of them are from a South Asian diaspora background.

On the one hand we are examining the global aspects of the people present, the scholars who come, on the topics they talk about. There is a workshop on fan cultures and how people relate in different cultural contexts to Shah Rukh and his movies. And there will be a presentation on Russia,  new media and fan following, there will be something on Trinidad, a paper on Peru, there will be papers on the German speaking areas, also on Italy.

Another participant is Professor Claus Tieber, who teaches a course in Hindi cinema at Vienna University, and writer of a book, 'Passages to Bollywood'.

Prof Claus Tieber, Department of Theater, Film and Media Studies, Vienna University: About Shah Rukh's special appeal - it is not just for Austria, it's for everyone. He combines opposites and he has something for everyone. He is very male in his body but he acts very female in a number of scenes, he is a Muslim playing Hindu, he is clothed in very Western clothes and still comes from India. So he combines all these opposites. That is part of the magic and success of this big star. There is more than just one small image.

Prof Mader found that although there are a few male and queer fans, an overwhelming majority of Shah Rukh's fans are women. She says he fulfils the European women's eternal quest for an emotional man who is not shy of saying 'I love you' to the woman he loves.

A fan: I like the romantic and emotional side that Shah Rukh Khan displays. The fact that a man can weep and be emotional.

In a continent that prides itelf on being rational and logical, Shah Rukh's films balances their real life with their imagined life.

Columnist Mehru Jaffer, whose film on Shahrukhis will be shown at the conference, says that she wanted to document the trend before it faded away. She calls it an emotional phenomena.

Mehru Jaffer: There is a lot of gentleness. They love Gauri and they adore his kids as much as they love Shah Rukh. On the shelf they will have a huge poster of Shah Rukh  but there will also be beautiful pictures of Gauri and Shah Rukh.  It is not just Shah Rukh as an actor who is liked but he is liked as a husband, as a friend and as a fan. The very common joke among fans in Vienna is that when you meet Shah Rukh and give him your hand to shake, he disregards the hand and gives you a hug instead. They love all this in a culture that is time oriented and people oriented for profit and business.

Some of them live by themselves in a way, with the memory of films and music of Shah Rukh. If it gives them so much emotional solace.

I think it is a good reason to love someone in this way.





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