One of Bollywood’s most popular actors, Shah Rukh Khan, was honoured at the 41st Sharjah International Book Fair with the first Global Icon of Cinema and Cultural Narrative Award presented at the festival.
Khan was welcomed by a packed auditorium of fans, some of whom had been chanting his name since noon. Dressed in a black suit, Khan accepted the award from Ahmed bin Rakkad Al Ameri, chairman of the Sharjah Book Authority, and Khawla Al Mujaini, general coordinator of the fair.
In his acceptance speech, Khan commented on the importance of arts and culture, which have the capacity to transcend differences across continents.
“Arts and culture allow for love, peace and compassion by taking us on visual journeys,” he said.
“Events like the Sharjah International Book Fair are platforms for stories to be told to each other across values of nations and cultures. They help us to remember what we have in common and bring out the hope of a better world.”
The book fair award honours people whose career efforts have transcended cultural barriers and whose contributions to the arts have created cultural ties across borders.
It seems appropriate for Khan to be the first recipient of the award: not only an avid reader, Khan has also starred in more than 80 films throughout his 30-year career and has a major fan base in India, Europe, the Middle East and the US.
From his very first film Deewana in 1992, Khan established himself as the king of romance, teaching a whole generation that love trumps all challenges through a series of blockbusters including Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, Devdas and My Name is Khan.
Khan will also star in the eagerly awaited Pathaan directed by Siddharth Anand and also star Deepika Padukone, set to be released on January 25, 2023.
“I don’t think I need to be nervous,” Khan said when he was asked about Pathaan’s release next year.
Khan clarified that his confidence in the film’s success is linked to a personal mantra: do your best in the moment and manifest the most positive outcome through hard work.
“That's the belief I wake up with. That's the belief that makes me, at the age of 57, go to sets and work 18 hours a day,” Khan said.
“Because if I did not know that at the end of the day, I know I'm going to make a great product which lots of people would like, I will not be able to do it. So it's not an arrogant statement. This is what I believe, as I sit here — it’s a childlike belief that I did my best.”
Khan took a moment to give the many young audience members some advice as well, emphasising the importance of kindness and honesty.
“In all the issues you face in life, keep an honest and gentle heart,” he said.
“There will be times when we have to cheat with life, there will be times when we have to change the people around us but in that one moment of weakness, if you can keep an honest and gentle heart, you will have the greatest life that God and Allah has given you.”
Khan also spoke on Sharjah and the UAE’s development over the years, calling it impressive and “high level”.
He was especially enthusiastic about the way the UAE has welcomed different cultures into the country.
“They're allowing people to come from the rest of the world,” he said. “And bring their culture and make it a part of this genuine, metropolitan, international global centre that they've created.”