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Shah Rukh Khan

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With a name like Shah Rukh, loosely translating to ‘face of the king’, the one thing he was never going to lack was ambition.

But even Shah Rukh Khan may well have stopped short of imagining himself “the world’s biggest movie star,” a descriptor the Los Angeles Times used for him in 2011.

The nomenclature doesn’t begin to explain the parallel universe that is SRK – not an individual as much as an industry in himself, with his films, brand associations, cricket franchise, production and special effects companies. It also doesn’t reflect the audacity of his achievement – especially given that he is the only one of the Khan triumverate of Shah Rukh, Salman and Aamir who doesn’t come from a film background.

But Shah Rukh has always been more than an actor – he is that rare performer whose personality off-screen doesn’t fade before his onscreen avatar. Rather, the off-screen Shah Rukh has often been more intriguing and layered than the relatively straightforward, romantic roles that have marked his career.

Off-camera, his intelligence and sharp wit are often in evidence; his penchant for controversy unerring; his restlessness and nervous energy dramatically high. He has a passion for sport that hasstayed consistent since college, when he captained the football, cricket and hockey teams and played cricket at the zonal level.

It’s almost impossible to collate the list of laurels he has won for his films, or the reams written on the man himself, but a few stand out. In 2010, Discovery Travel & Living produced a 10-part series called Living With a Superstar that documented the behind-the-scenes of the actor’s life and was the most expensive Indian show on television. Shah Rukh also recently became only the second Indian after Sachin Tendulkar to have an official Opus dedicated to him: one of the most unusual publishing ventures in the world, Kraken Opus creates special limited edition volumes on subjects ranging from sport celebrities to art and popular culture that sell for up to 1 million pounds for limited editions.

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