He’s got the looks, the talent and now he’s ‘Dr SRK’ too. Shah Rukh Khan doesn’t get any more perfect that this. The Bollywood actor was awarded an honorary doctorate in Urdu from the Maulana Azad National Urdu University on Monday for promoting Urdu language and culture through his films.
The King Khan was at Hyderabad to receive the honour, complete with a graduation gown over his suit and a pair of shades to go with it.
And like always, after SRK graciously accepted the doctorate from Chancellor Zafar, he charmed audiences with a short speech.
Shah Rukh mentioned his deceased parents and their role in the honour he had received. He said he owed his fluency in Urdu to his father, who he described as a highly-educated man and a freedom fighter. He also said that Hyderabad is his mother’s birthplace, and that she would be happy that he received the doctorate here.
Reminiscing about his father, Shah Rukh spoke about his father’s struggle with poverty and how, despite being so learned, his business ventures continued to be a failure. “But what he lacked in money, he made up in love. Every year on my birthday, he would give me something that had once belonged to him,” Shah Rukh said.
Among the things he received were: a broken chess set, a typewriter and a camera which didn’t work.
With chess, Shah Rukh’s father taught him the importance of cooperation, the significance of taking a step back for the sake of progress and the need to always respect people who are smaller than you.
“And the final thing he taught me was that sometimes you have to sacrifice what you love most. Like the queen, in chess,” Shah Rukh says.
Shah Rukh learnt to write on the typewriter when he was a commerce student in school. Pointing out that youngsters today will never know what it is like to write on a typewriter, where you cannot erase a mistake as easily as you can on a computer, he said that using a typewriter taught him to be diligent.
“I realised that practice makes you perfect. Whatever you do in life, do it with diligence. Do it with care, like it is the first thing you’re doing in your life and also the last thing you will do,” he tells the audience earnestly.
The broken camera, Shah Rukh recounted, didn’t allow him to click pictures, but only frame beautiful shots in the viewfinder. With that, his father taught him that your creativity and passion can’t always become your profession.
“There are very few people who are fortunate enough, like me, who loved acting and theatre and could make it my profession also. But this doesn’t always happen.”
However, he insisted that even though the world may not recognise your skill, you must keep it and hone it for yourself. “Because when you are at your loneliest, your creativity is going to be your best friend,” he said.
Shah Rukh also told the graduates, post graduates and PhD students present to have a sense of humour and a child-like innocence. “People will say all kinds of things (to you in your life). If you have a sense of humour, life will be better,” he said.
Stressing on the importance of appreciating life, the “Dear Zindagi” star said that “life is the biggest gift” and that everything it brings you – happiness, sadness, darkness or light – should be respected.
“I take this as a very big responsibility. In the field of education, and in the field of Urdu and languages, through my work, whatever little I could do, I promise I’ll make sure to take it to the best of my capabilities,” he added.
“Deal with people graciously. Everyone has their own hardships; they are trying to become something in life. Give that consideration and leeway to everyone, even people who don’t cooperate with you,” Shah Rukh said.
He also insisted that because his audience was at a threshold where they had a zest to learn, they should follow their heart and do what they like. “Because when you come to my age or the age of your parents and teachers, there may be regret that you couldn’t do a particular thing,” he said.
He also told the students who received their degrees that he feels proud when somebody gets an education as there is nothing greater than education in the world.