The Khans
Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan and Aamir Khan. Image Credit: IANS and PTI

Heres an ode to one of the most entertaining periods of Hindi cinema.

Kaveree Bamzai’s ‘The Three Khans - And The Emergence of New India’ (Westland), releasing on July 15, looks back at Bollywood during the 1990s and the political and social incidents that were instrumental in making Shah Rukh, Salman and Aamir emerge as superstars of the time. Their enormous fame not only marked turning points in their careers but also influenced the social and emotional disposition of the devoted Indian audiences.

The three young men entered the world of Hindi films when the Angry Young Man era was on its last legs, heralding a change that audiences sought and found in the 1988 teen romance, ‘Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak’, starring Aamir Khan. The film’s success set the stage for another blockbuster, ‘Maine Pyar Kiya’, a year later, starring Salman Khan. Meanwhile, a third young actor, Shah Rukh Khan, emerged as the star of ‘Fauji’, a TV series.

In the coming years, Hindi films changed dramatically, much of it spearheaded by the troika. The last three decades have also seen change in India with the unleashing of caste mobilisation, the emergence of a post-liberalisation open market and the rise of an assertive Hindutva. In addition, these decades have witnessed the growth of multiplexes, the emergence of digital streaming, noisy television news channels and an opinionated and vibrant social media.

While exploring the political and social circumstances in which the Khans rose to fame, the book maps the movies that marked the turning points in their careers and examines their social and emotional impact on Indian audiences.

Deeply insightful without being pedantic, the book is a masterly examination of the role popular culture plays in our lives.

Bamzai is an independent journalist with over 30 years at India Today, The Indian Express and The Times of India. She launched her career as a sub-editor-cum-film-reviewer at The Indian Express, Ahmedabad, in 1988, having inherited her love for movies from her late father.

She was the first, and is so far the only, woman editor of India Today.

A member of the CII Women Empowerment Committee for several years, she is now a member of the jury for the Women Exemplar Awards of the CII and of the ISC-FICCI Sanitation Awards. She is a changemaker for Save The Children charity and a mentor for the KARM Fellowship. She has spoken at several media platforms on cinema, gender and youth.