Shah Rukh Khan and his brood are on the cover of the Canadian magazine She Canada, where his wife Gauri has been conferred the title “The First Lady of Bollywood”.
It is a harmless puff piece, with the Khan family pictured in all their Photoshopped glory. The image is a throwback to the classic American TV soaps of the 1980s, the kind in which a single photograph can give away the entire plot line for the season.
The eyes are drawn to Aryan Khan, with his genetically charged super swag and the luminous face that overshadows everyone else’s. Gauri Khan looks like the woman in command and the glamourous matriarch of the good-looking family, while Shah Rukh Khan, hanging on to the edge of the couch, appears to be someone who is only too happy to let his cubs handle the kill. Last year around this time, She Canada had put the Raees star on the cover for a Valentine’s special. He is still cover material, but this time as a father and husband.
But it’s the hot-pink headline that anoints Mrs Khan as the First Lady of Bollywood that grabs the eye.
Shah Rukh Khan’s stardom has recently acquired a dull tint. The hysteria is actually at Salman Khan’s command, and the title of the First Lady technically belongs to his non-existent wife. While Salman has left no room for anybody else at the top, his doggedly single status has left the slot of the first lady wide open.
Aamir Khan may be the master of surgical strikes at the box office, but his reluctance to wear the crown puts his wife Kiran Rao out of contention. You cannot possibly be conferred the title of First Lady if your man has no interest in the crown or the cape.
A feminist spin on the title would shift the focus to Twinkle Khanna, who has built a successful career as an interior designer, columnist and author. She is the only one among her peers who has carved out a distinctive identity for herself in worlds that have little to do with the film industry despite her star parents, Rajesh Khanna and Dimple Kapadia, and her star husband, Akshay Kumar.
Twinkle Khanna has always been too much of her own person. To give up an acting career for marriage and let go of the opportunity to host poolside brunches to instead produce columns and fiction says a lot about Khanna’s deviant aspirations. Besides, Akshay Kumar, despite being a consistent and popular box office name, was never part of the Bollywood power elite.
There is no possibility of Rani Mukerji being on the cover page of any magazine in this vein since her husband Aditya Chopra has an anathema to being photographed.
Thus it’s back to Gauri Khan and Kiran Rao. Gauri Khan ticks all the boxes with her circle of powerful friends and influencers and her impeccable sartorial sense. Gauri Khan is not known for being a funnybone, nor is she a filmmaker and producer like Kiran Rao. Her strengths are her entrepreneurial streak and her ability to bring together some of the most influential names in Mumbai at a flick of her immaculately manicured fingers.
The First Lady of Bollywood needs to look fabulous, be a fine hostess and tread the fine line between a star wife and a career woman. Gauri Khan is to Bollywood what her mentor and friend, the late Parmeshwar Godrej, was to the swish set – a bona fide diva. She Canada was right after all. Since Mrs Salman Khan is missing from the picture, let there be no further claimants to the crown than Mrs Shah Rukh Khan.