Excerpt: New Kings of the World by Fatima Bhutto

New Kings of the World
The Rise and Rise of Eastern Pop Culture
Book Excerpt 

The 1,200-square-meter Imperial suite at the Palazzo Versace seemed to conform to the unrestrained aesthetic of Arabian Gulf autocracies. All available surfaces — lamps, tables, plates — were emblazoned with Versace’s gilt Medusa heads, baroque urns and flowery motifs. It is more than just a hotel room, it has its own ecosystem. There is a grand staircase leading to the second floor, three chandeliers in the sitting room alone, a private butler on call, a long dining table set for ten, and the Indian Premier League playing on a huge flat-screen TV. I’m trying to see which team is playing when he walks in.

As salam alaikum,” Shah Rukh Khan greets me as he settles into a Versace chair. He’s wearing a black hoodie, camouflage trousers and scuffed Converse sneakers. Khan radiates a sunny boyishness rather than matinee idol hunkiness. He is not as imposingly tall as Bollywood’s previous superstar, . . .