He’s India’s biggest star and the world’s second-wealthiest actor with a net worth of US$600 million (Dh2.2 billion). But what makes Shah Rukh Khan so successful? Koral Dasgupta, a Mumbai-based business school instructor, believes one reason is the actor’s marketing genius, which is cleverly applied to building his personal brand.
Dasgupta studied the megastar's innovative moves and documented them in her book, Power of a Common Man: Connecting with Consumers the SRK Way, which was in April.
Dasgupta analyses the SRK brand by taking readers on a nostalgic journey of his life – from the time he soared to fame with his appearance in the television serial Fauji (1988), to how he marketed an average film such as last year's Chennai Express, which went on to make almost Dh245m.
What prompted you to write about Shah Rukh Khan?
As a marketing management instructor in Mumbai, I had felt the need to offer my students new applications to theories they studied. During my lessons, I had amply used examples from Indian films to pique their interest. Since Bollywood is a subject I understand well, I decided to write a semi-academic book, which could be a guide for fun and effective learning. SRK became a natural choice for me not only because I am one of his biggest fans, but also since he is a marketing success extraordinaire.
When you started writing, did you think the book would target anyone but management students?
My first draft, which I discarded later, was an out-and-out management referral. On seeing it, I questioned myself whether I was willing to dissociate SRK fans from the book. They were the ones who would like to read and understand the book and cheer for it. So I rewrote the manuscript, leaving out the graphs, grids and analyses, so that everyone could understand how to build their own personal brand.
During your research, did you encounter any surprises?
SRK has a huge fan base in the international market, thanks to his unique way of engaging with his followers. I was astounded to learn that there are people across the globe who don’t understand a word of Hindi, but watch his films, follow his endorsements and cheer his IPL team. One example is the Korea Indian Film Association in Seoul. Its non-Hindi-speaking members meet a couple of times every month to watch his movies. Several have adopted nicknames based on characters he has played. That’s the kind of effect he has on his fans.
What did you find SRK’s biggest reason for success to be?
It is difficult to pinpoint a single reason. It won’t be fair to say it’s just his innovative marketing strategies. SRK’s dynamic qualities have made him the megastar he is today. His energy, passion, eloquence, intensity and people skills are fabulous.
You have dedicated your book to SRK and have addressed him in its prologue. Has he expressed his views on the book?
SRK had once retweeted a media report written on my book, so I’m sure he is aware of its existence. However, even though I had mailed him the first copy, I don’t know if he has read it yet. I certainly hope to hear his comments some day.
What kind of response has your book had from the Middle East and the world?
Many SRK fans from the Middle East, Turkey, Algeria, Italy, Spain, Germany, Russia and Indonesia have reached out to me with their views on the book. Several, especially from the Middle East, requested print copies and have paid heavy courier charges for them. One gentleman from Dubai wrote to me saying how people in his country wait for such books to learn more about Bollywood stars they have limited access to and that I should work upon making my book available in bookstores across the UAE.
• Power of a Common Man: Connecting with Consumers the SRK Way is available on Amazon and costs Dh25