Indian actor Aamir Khan said that fear keeps him alert and at first, I did not believe him. What could unsettle this larger-than-life individual? Upon closer glance, I realise that from being berated for his “intolerant” conversations to allegedly feigning tears on television, his fears are resurrected on personal experiences. His triumph, however, lies in his dance of endurance, in an industry clouded by one-act wonders and a vacillating audience. The precise moment that Khan usurped the throne remains unclear. Earlier, actors Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan were the uncontested “Kings of Bollywood”. Barring common surnames and a filmography transcending decades, he has little in common with either.

When Indian cinema gets written-off, I wonder if Khan’s craft has been witnessed. His cinematic genius is laudable, but his real victory is his evocative mind. Khan, however, is no ordinary soul. His pendulum swings between commerce and creativity, striking an equal music. A convenient description for him is “perfectionist”. Instead, a single-minded agenda steers him - the thwarting of mediocrity by placing content on the pedestal, thus legitimising his artistic valour.

Amidst today’s flattery and virtual reality, discovering a celebrity entirely comfortable in their own skin is like finding a needle in a haystack. He measures stardom by how flops have performed. If people continue to fill seats, you can attribute it to stardom.

Khan is no superhero and his journey isn’t flawless. Each time, he compels you to think irreversibly about leitmotifs that have touched our lives. Forty-five years is no trifling gig. As an unapologetic fan, I hope this only marks the beginning.

- The writer is an associate instructor at New York University, Abu Dhabi