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Saif Ali Khan: Stardom and the Alchemy of Celebrity

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Stardom in Contemporary Hindi Cinema

Abstract

In this chapter, we examine the underpinnings of Khan’s career trajectory while tracing his dualities on- and off-screen. These contradictions have allowed him to move seamlessly from commercial successes to more offbeat roles in such films as Being Cyrus (Adjania 2005), Ek Hasina Thi (Raghavan 2004), Omkara (Bhardwaj 2006), along with his Netflix series Sacred Games (Kashyap and Motwane 2018). The chapter explores how a star’s identity is often cultivated over the years and how a star’s image exists in terms of “multiplicity of its meanings” (Dyer 1998: 63). Outside his films, he has sustained his celebrity via public interest in his famous parents, aristocratic lineage, romantic relationships, expensive lifestyle, endorsements, and his marriage (Khan’s second) to actor Kareena Kapoor. This prompts us to examine Saif’s always engrossing life, a narrative in its own right, adding to our reading of his stardom. We also outline the representation of masculinity in Hindi cinema by following Khan’s select works. In particular, we note the dawn of the metrosexual urban male on-screen, and Khan’s portrayal of this figure in post-globalization India. By placing Saif Ali Khan in the context of the Bollywood star system and considering that the star’s persona has many overlaps with that of other mainstream stars, the work also addresses Saif as a very twenty-first-century transmedia celebrity.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    In Masand, Rajeev (interview). “I am no Superstar: Saif Ali Khan”. rajeevmasand.com. https://www.rajeevmasand.com/uncategorized/i-am-no-superstar-saif-ali-khan/.

  2. 2.

    In Koffee with Karan, Season Five, Episode Sixteen. 2017. “Saif, Kangana Let it All Out”. https://www.hotstar.com/tv/koffee-with-karan/s-74/saif-kangana-let-it-all-out/1000167379.

  3. 3.

    In Khan, Saif Ali. 2017. “DNA Exclusive: Saif Ali Khan pens an open letter over the ‘Nepotism rocks’ brouhaha during IIFA 2017” in DNA. https://www.dnaindia.com/bollywood/report-saif-ali-khan-pens-an-open-letter-over-the-neopitism-rocks-brouhaha-during-iifa-2017-2508860.

  4. 4.

    In Sanyal, Prathikrit. 2017. “Saif Ali Khan makes a fool of himself with an open letter on nepotism”. dailyO. https://www.dailyo.in/voices/saif-ali-khan-nepotism-eugenics-genetics-sexism-privilege-karan-johar-kangana-ranaut-varun-dhawan/story/1/18515.html and Chawla, Bhaskar. 2017. “Saif Ali Khan’s Views On Nepotism Are Even Darker Than They Appear”. Huffington Post. https://www.huffingtonpost.in/bhaskar-chawla/saif-ali-khan-s-views-on-nepotism-are-even-darker-than-they-appe_a_23046741/.

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Correspondence to Liza Tom .

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Viswamohan, A.I., Tom, L. (2020). Saif Ali Khan: Stardom and the Alchemy of Celebrity. In: Viswamohan, A., Wilkinson, C. (eds) Stardom in Contemporary Hindi Cinema. Springer, Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-15-0191-3_2

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