Have you heard of fallacy of centrality? During the 1940s, American sociologist Ron Westrum studied the practices of paediatricians and noticed a pattern of behaviour in doctors who failed to diagnose serious conditions, such as child abuse by parents. He found that well-intentioned doctors were hampered by their own sense of "expertise" and overlooked clear signals that something was wrong. They convinced themselves that if parents were abusing their children, the doctors "would surely know the phenomenon if it actually were taking place".
Westrum called this "the fallacy of centrality" - the assumption that because one is in a central position, one automatically knows everything necessary to exercise effective leadership. Management consultant Brian Evje expands this thought: "In practice, that means CEOs often think, 'If something serious is happening in my organisation, I know about it, because my role is central to the organisation'".
Shah Rukh Khan, the CEO of Brand Shah Rukh Khan, has been a victim of this for a while. If you look at some of his recent film choices (Ra.One, Jab Tak Hai Jaan, Happy New Year and even the poster of Dilwale where he looks like a 50-year-old man dressed as a teenager from the '90s), you would think King Khan, as he likes to call himself, has either lost it or he simply doesn't give a f*ck.
Make no mistake, SRK, the astute businessman, knows how to make money and several crores of it, even from bad films. But for his fans, he is a vainglorious shadow of his old self, picking one bad movie after the other, secure in the knowledge that he can sell piss at the price of platinum, while his frenemy Salman Khan shook off his earlier lethargy and morphed into the Bhaijaan of the box office, giving the masses exactly what they wanted to see and hear. "Mujh par ek ehsaan karna ki mujhpar koi ehsaan na karna."
But on the evening before Eid, when Salman's big release Bajrangi Bhaijaan is all set to make India and Pakistan forget the border skirmish and Modi-Sharif's awkward photo-op, social media gets flooded by the teaser and poster release of Shah Rukh's Raees. The film will hit screens after a year. Trust Shah Rukh to steal his opponent's thunder by choosing to let out the teaser on the eve of Bajrangi Bhaijaan's release and steal the attention.
But there's more. The teaser shows Shah Rukh as a Muslim bootlegger in the 1980s, surma, stubble, sex appeal, all in place. "Ammijaan kehti thi koi dhanda chota nahi hota, aur koi dhande se bada nahi hota. Ab yehi mera kalma. Yehi mera mazhab." But wait. Isn't Gujarat a dry state? A Muslim bootlegger in Gujarat, openly flaunting his religion and his disregard for the law in Modi land! Welcome back Shah Rukh Khan! At a time when Salman is getting politically and religiously correct by being Bajrangi and flaunting his Hanuman necklace, Shah Rukh is going back to what he was when he started his journey in Bollywood. (Think Darr and Baazigar, films rejected by Salman and Aamir for being too risky.)
This is Shah Rukh overcoming fallacy of centrality and giving his fans what they want from him. Political correctness and political pole vaulters be damned. "Baniye ka dimaag aur Mianbhai ki daring."