Maybe now it’s different, one hardly goes out to know better. But when one was younger, there was a distinct gender divide when one went to parties or gatherings. The men or those who wished to be known as real men of the world hung out with each other having a drink, talking shop, while the women hung out with each keeping a sharp eye on ‘their men’, counting their drinks for them, walking up to them hissing a sharp command of, ‘that’s enough!’ Some of the women would drink alcohol mixed into orange-looking liquids and others would look at those women suspiciously. Eventually some men would drink enough to start dancing badly usually to Bollywood music or the English types to Summer of 69. It still happens off and on. Men will dance only when aided by dutch courage whereas the women will be dancing from the outset. But very rarely, one will find a special kind of man. The one who will hang around with the women and dance with them and be very comfortable, interested, actively listening and not really to pick them up.
No one epitomised this more than SRK in Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge. He’s very uncomfortable with the boorish, rifle-toting, patiala-peg swigging alpha male played by Parmeet Sethi or the grumpy sanskari patriarch Amrish Puri. Uncharacteristically, going completely against all sorts of brocodes, SRK throughout the film overtly or covertly mocks these types of men. He loves hanging out with the women, makes a point of getting to know all the women, the youngest to the oldest, personally. He alone gives dimension to their personalities. The bua, the bebe, the mother, the sister. This role, now that I think of it was revolutionary. Raj of DDLJ loved hanging out with the girl gang. This was a regular cis male character, but SRK brought humanity to the character. I think IRL too SRK is a Raj, whose bestie is a cis woman, who really gets along with his daughter, doesn’t patronise the women, is not only okay with their equality, is also comfortable if they are his superiors.
I usually have nothing nice to say about Cis men (do you really need to ask why), but I am lucky to have one or two such men in my life. They are not pushovers by any means, just seem to have transcended the confines of their conditioning.
There is one scene, in the song I
have linked below, SRK is dancing from the groom’s side and at one point as the music reaches a crescendo, he races across the terrace to the bride’s side snatches a dupatta and begins to dance like them, with them. It is so heart-warming, like he always wanted to be there, but has to pretend to be a macho dude and suddenly he can no longer help it as the music calls him.
A million things are wrong with this movie, but not SRK.