Harlequin-ing Shah Rukh Khan Through Media ‘Patches’: Composing the Global Image of an Indian Star in the Italian Mediascape
This paper seeks to observe how the global appeal of Indian star Shah Rukh Khan is constructed within the Italian panorama. To explore his global definition through an Italian point of view, this paper intends to provide an account and expand on how diverse media within Italy have spoken about this Indian star, and how these opinions have collectively contributed to the comprehension of Shah Rukh Khan as harlequinesque – a visual metaphor for an assorted behavioural and aesthetic traits composed together to form a meaningful entity. By beginning from the analysis of this acclaimed Bollywood superstar and his presence in Italy through the diverse communicational platforms such as television, cinema, festivals, magazines and last but not least, the magnitude of blogs and forums, with a specific analysis of the forum ‘Bollywood Italia’, the aim is to explain how this patchy, almost harlequinesque and inhomogeneous portrait of Shah Rukh Khan contributes to the development of his global image. The assemblage of the diverse voices from the different media sources are considered here as being metaphors for the colourful and meaningful patches of an evocative composition of Shah Rukh Khan across a global panorama. The figure of Harlequin, the iconic Italian character from Commedia dell’arte, is characterised by agility and tremendous elasticity. The global trotting activities of Shah Rukh Khan, such as his presence at numerous festivals, shooting locations and so on can be read as acrobatic Harlequinesque performances; particularly for the purposes of this manuscript, the invitation extended to him for the premiere of ‘My Name is Khan’ in Italian at the ‘Festival del Cinema’ in Rome, despite his scarce success within Italy, can be likened to an acrobat “landing on his feet”. In this light it is important to understand the following questions: how has the Italian case contributed to his global signification and construction of a chameleonic persona for a wide Indian and non-India audience? And, is Shah Rukh Khan the new Harlequin of India? This article will attempt to respond to these questions through a textual approach, analysing the Italian mediascape that contains Shah Rukh Khan at the centre of the debate.
Citation:Acciari, M. (2015) Harlequin-ing Shah Rukh Khan Through Media ‘Patches’: Composing the Global Image of an Indian Star in the Italian Mediascape. In: Dudrah, R., Mader, E. and Fuchs, B. (eds) SRK and Global Bollywood, New Delhi: Oxford University Press
Research Group:Cinema and Television History Research Centre
- Leicester Media School