Fatima Bhutto is out with a fresh book titled New Kings of the World: The Rise and Rise of Eastern Pop Culture that delves into the role of global Bollywood icon, Shah Rukh Khan in eastern pop culture.
The book is a narration of the 37-year-old writer wandering around in the Qissa Khawani Bazaar, Peshawar where the widely-hailed hero exists in forms of advertisements and film posters decades after his father, left the neighborhood after the parturition.
“An elderly man with a snowy white beard steps out of his shop when he sees me. He knows why I am here: He knows why everyone walks down the dark tunnel to Shah Wali Qatal,” Bhutto writes, referencing the appeal of the otherwise mundane street.
“‘You know, he even came to my shop once,’ the old man boasts as he beckons me to follow him. ‘Even though he was born in India, he's been here twice as a young man.’,” she writes.
“At the very end, in the corner, is a freshly painted mud-brown-and-white house. The door is bolted shut and a lady's name is neatly painted on a wooden plaque. This is an apt description of the house of Shah Rukh Khan’s father. It’s the exact same place where the Bollywood superstar was born.
Speaking about the father of ‘King Khan’, Bhutto says: “In a different time, Khan's Peshawar born father was an anti-colonial activist, courting arrest under Mahatma Gandhi's 1942 Quit India Movement against British imperialists and demonstrating alongside the Congress Party and Khudai Khidmatgar, the non-violent Pashtun movement led by Abdul Ghaffar Khan, otherwise known as "Frontier Gandhi."
Bhutto writes on to call Khan as an ‘icon of a vast cultural movement emerging from the Global South’, and one of the biggest challenges of the United States monopoly of soft power.
The book, which looks at the eastern region of the world as opposed to the western power, not just encompasses the South Asian region but also talks about the middle and far-east region, including K-Pop.