Sakshi Malik and Shah Rukh Khan’s circumstances are vastly different but their stories in 2023 tell us about dangling our feet over a dream
As 2023 draws to a close, we’ve strayed from tradition at Lounge. Our cover is usually a teaser for the long, reported story on the centrespread. This week, instead, we chose to put two people who represent the spirit of the year gone by, the resilience and hope that’s kept all of us going for the past few years—and the many possible outcomes of fortitude. Olympian Sakshi Malik and actor Shah Rukh Khan have both shown up as figures of tenacity in the past few years yet each of them has ended the year on an entirely different note.
“Not parts, the whole 2023 was best,” Shah Rukh recently exulted during an #AskSRK session just after the release of his third film this year. A few days earlier, Sakshi had announced her retirement from wrestling, saying, despondently, “Our fight is for women wrestlers, I … want the upcoming wrestlers should get justice.”
One of the longest running protests this year has been by India’s wrestlers, who are—when it comes down to the absolute basics—demanding safety at work and respect for their effort. Sakshi has been at the forefront, uncompromising in her conviction about sportspersons needing an ecosystem of safety. Athletes are, as Rohit Brijnath writes in his column, a special species—driven by a strength and confidence those of us outside the game will rarely understand, inspiring us with their feats, and knowing that they are of a different mettle.
Superstar actors, too, carry that unknowable gene within them, though their feats are worlds apart from that of athletes. In that sense, Shah Rukh may have had a dream run this year with Pathaan, Jawan and Dunki collecting crores, but his comeback (or resurrection, as one of our stories describes it) followed a five-year drought when he also had to fend off a drug case involving his son. Sakshi and Shah Rukh’s circumstances are vastly different but their stories in 2023 tell us about dangling our feet over a dream and hoping that fortitude will get us to reality. In that spirit, this is an issue about the year gone by, its highs and lows, its weirdness and joys, and what we could look forward to in 2024.
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