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The Three Khans: And the Emergence of New India.

by Rachel Mukherjee 3 months ago in celebrities

The Book is written by Kaveree Bamzai.

The Three Khans who ruled our hearts for decades.

Kaveree Bamzai’s book 'The Three Khans: And the Emergence of New India' juxtaposes the careers of the three actors with the socio-political shift in the country

When the Angry Young Man era was on its last legs, three young men entered the world of Hindi films, heralding a change that audiences sought and found in the 1988 teen romance Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak, starring Aamir Khan. The film’s success set the stage for another blockbuster, Maine Pyar Kiya, a year later, starring Salman Khan. Meanwhile, a third young actor, Shah Rukh Khan, emerged as the star of Fauji, a TV series.

In the coming years, Hindi films changed dramatically, much of it spearheaded by the troika. The last three decades have also seen change in India with the unleashing of caste mobilization, the emergence of a post-liberalization open market and the rise of an assertive Hindutva. In addition, these decades have witnessed the growth of multiplexes, the emergence of digital streaming, noisy television news channels and an opinionated and vibrant social media.

While exploring the political and social circumstances in which the Khans rose to fame, The Three Khans and the Emergence of New India maps the movies that marked the turning points in their careers and examines their social and emotional impact on Indian audiences.

Deeply insightful without being pedantic, Kaveree Bamzai’s book is a masterly examination of the role popular culture plays in our lives.


‘This book is an account of the irrepressible rise of three talented young men who found fame in a changing time for the film industry, the country and themselves. Living through failures and tasting heady success, sometimes friends and at other times rivals, the three Khans have made an indelible and enduring impact on India’s imagination.’

The Book Cover.

About the Author

Kaveree Bamzai is an independent journalist with over thirty years at India Today, The Indian Express and The Times of India. She launched her career as a sub-editor-cum-film-reviewer at The Indian Express, Ahmedabad, in 1988, having inherited her love for movies from her late father. She was the first, and so far, only woman editor of India Today.

A member of the CII Women Empowerment Committee for several years, she is now a member of the jury for the Women Exemplar Awards of the CII and of the ISC-FICCI Sanitation Awards. She is a changemaker for Save The Children charity and a mentor for the KARM Fellowship. She has spoken at several media platforms on cinema, gender and youth.

The book has come out at a time when stardom as a term is facing an existential crisis, with OTT platforms relying more on content than charisma. Interestingly, the three emerged on the scene when new technology was about to choke cinema in India. But, as Bamzai rightly suggests, it’s not just new platforms and the next crop of actors and contemporaries like Akshay Kumar and Ajay Devgn on the right side of the establishment who give the Khans stiff competition. It’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself, who has emerged as the new cultural icon for a large number of youngsters.

Art often responds to social and political dimensions, and in a country short of role models, film stars often play a double role. If Dilip Kumar and Raj Kapoor reflected Nehruvian socialism in their films, Aamir Khan and Shah Rukh Khan emerged as the poster boys of Rajiv Gandhi’s tryst with globalization. And there has always been a Dev Anand and Salman Khan who have simply relied on mass appeal.

In this latest book, The Three Khans: And the Emergence of New India (Westland), senior journalist Kaveree Bamzai has juxtaposed the careers of the three Khans, Aamir, Shah Rukh, and Salman, with the most tumultuous times in the history of the republic. It is a tough task but Bamzai has woven a crisp and compelling narrative that keeps you intrigued.


Rachel Mukherjee

Cinema, Art and Lifestyle correspondent.

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