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We firmly belong to the Shah Rukh Khan fan club and have been enthralled by him for three decades. However, Shrayana Bhattacharya has elevated this fandom to another level. And while at it, the economist in her has provided us with a non fiction storytelling lesson to think through as well. If you’re looking for summer reads this July, Desperately Seeking Shah Rukh is a gem.

3 Storytelling Lessons from the Book

1. Addressing data no one wants to believe: Showcasing the economics of the Indian state through the lens of gender and describing parameters that no one wants to believe is a task. Many writers (including Indians talking about India) tend to generalize their personal experiences. Said in another way, we are usually biased to believe that our personal experience is the reality. We often disregard our privileges and live in our bubbles. We often want to believe that things are better (or worse) than they truly are.

By telling stories of women facing gender discriminations and finding their escape in Shah Rukh films, united in their fandom, Bhattacharya finds a unique storytelling approach to bring rich context to oft-ignored data. She somehow makes it a part of regular pop-culture conversations.

2. Framing perceptions: Popular culture has always been an outlet for people to find their fantasies, and articulation. Films in India provide that out. It’s also incredibly powerful how cultural icons develop and shape narratives. Bhattacharya talks about dense topics – from gender violence, to garden variety sexism in everyday living, and finds a way to tie these socio-economic indicators, with the Shah Rukh’s stories as the common thread.

“This book isn’t about Shah Rukh Khan. Rather, I hope to reveal how female fans use his icon to talk about themselves. Their stories will illustrate how his films, songs and interviews are invoked to frame a feminine conversation on inequality within families, workplaces and contemporary romances.”

3. Building a new category: Non fiction storytelling needs to usually speak to an area or a community with expertise. This is a book from an economist that creates a whole new category while at it. Few stars have the power to influence entire generations, and Bhattacharya gives words to many fans who didn’t quite know they were a niche community yet. And in that, she’s made them see that their appreciation of Shah Rukh is also a way for them to express their own individualities. Communities are built on commonly held beliefs and a sense of validation and belonging. And fans will agree.

You may pick the book because you are attracted to learning more about Shah Rukh’s fans. But you will also end up learning so much more – about the fans, indicators of wellbeing of Indian women, articulation of the feminine conversation, and validation in more ways than one.

If you’re writing a nonfiction or talking about difficult topics, don’t give this a miss. Every hard topic has stories meshed inside it.

Do we recommend? 10000%. It’s also a LOVELY summer read. Get on it now!