Very few people can claim to relate to Shah Rukh Khan.
After all, in his native country India, he is more than just a superstar.
In Bollywood, Shah Rukh Khan is a household name, known for his blockbuster films. He is India’s very own version of George Clooney — a sex symbol, considered as the King of Romance and worshipped by his legions of fans.
He seems so unrelatable that you wouldn’t think you can learn anything profound from someone so high up on the clouds.
However, you’d be surprised just how wise this 51-year old actor is. In an inspiring and deeply-intuitive TED talk, Sha Rukh Khan wittily compares his aging superstardom to humanity itself. In this glorious speech filled with beautiful words of wisdom, Bollywood’s biggest star weighs in on what our future selves should have, and what we need for a better tomorrow.
Here are 5 takeaways from this thought-provoking TED talk.
Shah Rukh Khan: Thoughts on humanity, fame, and love
1. Humanity is like an aging movie star.
Humanity has come a long way. We’ve been through wars, mind-blowing technological advancements, socio-economic overhauls and everything in between.
However, like an aging movie star, we continue to grapple with what it means to be human.
“It’s an aging movie star, grappling with all the newness around itself, wondering whether it got it right in the first place, and still trying to find a way to keep on shining regardless.”
2. Sometimes you learn the most valuable lessons when you’re in the moment itself.
Shah Rukh learned this lesson when his father passed away. As a 14-year-old, he had no one to drive his father back home. So he did so himself. He drove his grieving mother and himself, with his father at the back seat.
Learning that, you don’t know that you’re actually capable unless you try.
3. The world has drastically changed.
Shah Rukh perfectly encapsulates how times have changed since he was young. Back then, life was simple. You are who you are and you say what you mean. These days, things are far more complicated.
Words can be misconstrued. And actions can be judged harshly. We are all put under the unforgiving microscope of the internet and social media.
“We relied on systems created through the toil and sacrifice of generations before to protect us, and we felt that governments actually worked for our betterment. Science was simple and logical. You went wherever life took you for work, and people were mostly welcoming of you. Migration was a term then still reserved for Siberian cranes, not human beings. Most importantly, you were who you were and you said what you thought.”
4. Humanity has struggled with this change.
Many people would have you otherwise believe that we have adapted to these new advancements smoothly. But as Shah Rukh, humorously describes, we were ill-equipped with this sudden and very overwhelming change.
“In this new world, slowly, reality became virtual and virtual became real, and I started to feel that I could not be who I wanted to be or say what I actually thought, and humanity at this time completely identified with me. I think both of us were going through our midlife crisis, and humanity, like me, was becoming an overexposed prima donna. I started to sell everything, from hair oil to diesel generators. Humanity was buying everything from crude oil to nuclear reactors.”
5. We need love and compassion for a brighter future.
And the most important lesson Shah Rukh is imparting us all is this: we need to do everything with love and compassion if we want to save our future.
Right now we are brave. Right now we feel as if we are indestructible, invincible to anything that could stand in our way. Our present selves are so sure of our own existence, that we forget that this very trait might be our end after all.
“The present you is hopeful. The present you is innovative and resourceful, and of course, the present you is annoyingly indefinable.”
But what will truly define us in the future, what will set us apart as something great in our history, is much different, and very much simple.
Sharukh imparts a lesson that his beloved country taught him deeply:
“The people of this ancient land embraced me in their limitless love, and I’ve learned from these people that neither power nor poverty can make your life more magical or less tortuous. I’ve learned from the people of my country that the dignity of a life, a human being, a culture, a religion, a country actually resides in its ability for grace and compassion. I’ve learned that whatever moves you, whatever urges you to create, to build, whatever keeps you from failing, whatever helps you survive, is perhaps the oldest and the simplest emotion known to mankind, and that is love.”
A call for humanity.
And that is Sha Rukh’s plea to us all. That our future selves should be filled with love. Instead of power and spreading hate, that we should all turn towards love.
In his last words of wisdom, Sha Rukh urges us all to be loving and compassionate.
“So I truly believe the future “you” has to be a you that loves. Otherwise, it will cease to flourish. It will perish in its own self-absorption.”
“I believe the future ‘you’ is an infinite you. It’s called a chakra in India, like a circle. It ends where it begins from to complete itself. A you that perceives time and space differently understands both your unimaginable and fantastic importance and your complete unimportance in the larger context of the universe. A you that returns back to the original innocence of humanity, which loves from the purity of heart, which sees from the eyes of truth, which dreams from the clarity of an untampered mind.”