How Shahrukh Khan's KISS gave a kick to Pathaan!

Shahrukh Khan's Kiss for Pathaan - Kartik Dayanand Boddapati

#Pathaan Kiss karne nahi….Kick karne aaya hai….

That was Shahrukh Khan’s response to a silly question on Twitter during one of his many #AskSRK sessions before the release of Pathaan. However, what he said is just the partial truth and he did KISS.

Before you jump to other conclusions—KISS means Keep it simple, stupid!

The KISS principle states that most systems work best if they are kept simple rather than made complicated.

That’s exactly what Shahrukh Khan did to set up the stage for Pathaan’s blockbuster success. The same principle is also used to structure and mount the film too.

Let me elaborate with a similar KISS approach. I’ll pick 5 areas to focus on. At places I’ll use Shahrukh Khan’s tweets to help with the story. Here it goes…

1. The Promotions

In this age of relentless movie promotions, this film was an exception—we saw no interviews to the media, no roadshows, no pre-release events, no nonsense—just simple AMA (ask me anything) sessions on Twitter with the hashtag #AskSRK.

Those sessions gave enough fodder for all media outlets to generate unlimited buzz about the movie. It was the smartest move from one of the smartest marketing brains of the film industry.

Here’s the logic straight from the horse’s mouth, or should I say lion’s mouth….boom!

And then this one. Can’t get more simple than this.
Along with that there were two songs, one teaser and one trailer—all on YouTube—that’s all.

2. The Boycott

Irrespective of the saffron bikini, the boycott gang was working overtime to stop people from watching the film—a general trend over the last few years where Bollywood has been systematically demonised.

What does SRK do?

Once again, instead of going to TV channels and giving interviews or explanations SRK simply uses the power of Twitter to show how serious he is about those bringing in negativity towards the film.

This was the only thing he had to say.

The general audience did the rest at the box office.

3. The Story

Sharhrukh Khan tried some crazy concepts in recent times with movies like Zero, Fan, Jab Harry Met Sejal—all extremely complicated with layers of subtext and what not, let’s not get into all that—we can simply say they weren’t simple movies.

With Pathaan he keeps it super simple: Pathaan has to come back from vanvaas to save the world. That’s it.

The story starts with the threat and everything else in the movie, one spectacular action block after another, leads to the point at the end of the movie where the threat is eliminated. Simple.

There’s only one song in the movie and that too to advance the narrative, and one song during the end credits.

The story doesn’t go into any other unnecessary tangents or melodrama, with everything zooming ahead at rocket speed to saving the world.

4. The Subtext

While the story might be simple, there’s solid yet very simple subtext that doesn’t distract us from the proceedings on screen. Here are five of them.

  1. Movie starts with the mention of abolition of Article 370 in Kashmir—that’s the trigger for the rest of the movie. Going by the current trend of appeasing the powers at the centre, we expect that at some point the Prime Minister and Home Minister will be invoked in a glorious manner. Nothing of that sort happens. Politicians have no place in the story; it’s only nation first and then the soldiers who protect the nation.

  2. Politicians are actually sent back to their factory settings. In one scene where there’s talk about not paying a ransom, Pathaan asks if the same standards are applied to politicians. That’s a simple yet massive reset of public perception about politicians.

  3. When asked if he’s a Muslim, Pathaan shares a simple truth—as an orphan he has no clue which religion he belongs to, but whatever he is today is because of what the people of this country made him. It’s nation first and everything else next. Quite a solid message that is. He echoes that sentiment in the following tweet too.

  1. “Don’t ask what the nation did for you; instead ask what you did for the nation.” It’s maybe not a subtext but the main text of the movie.

  2. “Don’t leave it to the kids.” If you’ve seen the movie, you know what I am talking about. If you haven’t seen the movie, I am not giving you any spoilers now.

5. The Philosophy

This is an extension of the subtext bit but more at a personal level for the actors and technicians involved with the film. Before I come to Shahrukh Khan I’ll quickly cover the others.

Deepika Padukone

This film is her victory too along with that of Shahrukh Khan. She’s been the target of relentless hate, especially since her appearance at the JNU protest. She managed to maintain a dignified silence and let her work do the rest.

Also in this day and age of every second picture on Instagram competing with the stars on screen it is difficult to maintain that exclusivity or desirability—but oh man, she looks like a billion bucks on screen. Truly larger than life, not just in her ability to look glamorous but also to match Shahrukh Khan’s charisma on screen. It’s a sweet comeback for her.


The production house had a disastrous run over the last few years, yet went ahead and placed its bets on Pathaan. They are now firmly back on the map of blockbuster hits and with the #YRFSpyUniverse the sky is the limit.

John Abraham

John is the best villain that one could ask for in such a movie. It’s great to see his comeback. He still manages to retain his Greek god looks and plays his part convincingly.

Shahrukh Khan

Shahrukh Khan has been our biggest star since the early 90s, but has seen the lowest phase of his career over the last decade or so. How did he deal with it.

And this was his reaction after his massive comeback to the top with Pathaan.

He goes back to the drawing board; doesn’t brood, builds a solid physique and turns into a super convincing action hero—something he’s only dabbled in occasionally—but with Pathaan he’s into full-blown action mode.

His future looks exciting now with the #YRFSpyUniverse as well as his next ‘Jawan’ with Atlee and then Raju Hirani’s ‘Dunki’. He’s back at the top once again; and it’s so good to see him there.

That’s Shahrukh Khan keeping it super simple.

We can now safely say this about Pathaan—SRK ne KISS bhi kiya, aur Kick bhi kiya!


Kartik Dayanand Boddapati

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