He’s called King Khan in the industry and deservedly so. Shah Rukh Khan’s rise is the stuff dreams literally are made of. He was a rank outsider who rose and rose without the help of any godfather and showed millions of young hopefuls that yes, such a journey is indeed possible. He took risks early in his career, making the audience fall in love with the anti-hero. And he continues to experiment. His last releases, Fan and Zero, might not be as commercially successful as expected but technically they have undoubtedly taken cinema forward. He’s taken a sabbatical of sorts currently but Shah Rukh Khan remains a much-in-demand star. On the occasion of his birthday today, we list out some of the best movies of his incredible journey so far…
Director: Raj Kanwar
Cast: Rishi Kapoor, Divya Bharti, Shah Rukh Khan, Amrish Puri
Hema Malini’s Dil Aashna Hai released the same year was supposed to be Shah Rukh Khan’s debut film but Deewana released first and the Hindi film world got one of its most iconic stars in the process. The film had him starring alongside Rishi Kapoor, the actor who was seen as the first choice for romantic films for two decades but SRK’s entry changed the equation. He plays a spoiled rich brat who falls in love with a widow and this transforms him into a better person. Things take a turn when it becomes known that her first husband is still alive. However, the duo continues to live together as the first husband (Rishi Kapoor), parts way amicably. The villain turns up in full force at this juncture but Rishi sacrifices himself for the sake of his wife. Shah Rukh’s entry song Koi na koi chahiye is still remembered today.
Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol, Shilpa Shetty
Ajay Sharma (Shah Rukh Khan) is a young boy who seeks revenge for his father’s death caused by the actions of his trusted employer Madan Chopra (Dalip Tahil). Chopra has two daughters; the elder is Seema (Shilpa Shetty) and the younger is Priya (Kajol). Ajay murders Seema and tries to marry Priya, who herself is investigating her sister’s death. How she pieces together the clues and confronts the killer forms the crux of the film. Baazigar centres around the anti-hero character and made Shah Rukh Khan into a star. It’s a loose remake of the Hollywood hit A Kiss Before Dying. Abbas-Mustan changed the plot to suit the Indian palette. Songs by Anu Malik were a hit as well. And the comedy track involving Johnny Lever too added an air of hilarity to the otherwise grim proceedings. The film belonged to Shah Rukh Khan who blew the audience away with a strong balanced performance of a multi-layered character.
Director: Yash Chopra
Cast: Sunny Deol, Juhi Chawla, Shah Rukh Khan, Anupam Kher, Tanvi Azmi, Dalip Tahil
The director knew that there is a thin line separating love and madness and showcased that in chilling detail. It remains one of his most violent films till date. It changed the way Shah Rukh Khan’s career was taking shape. The anti-hero wasn’t ever a hit with the Indian audience. Shah Rukh broke the jinx with his flawed lover act in Darr. His catchphrase K…K…K…Kiran from Darr was lapped up by the youth. Love became a morbid obsession that turns fatal in the film and the audience agreed with the sentiment.
Karan Arjun (1995)
Director: Rakesh Roshan
Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan, Rakhee, Kajol, Mamta Kulkarni, Amrish Puri and Aashif Sheikh.
Karan Arjun is a revenge drama based on the theory of reincarnation. When Durga’s (Rakhee) husband speaks against the tyrannical rule of Durjan Singh (Amrish Puri), he is mercilessly killed. Durga is left alone with her two sons, Karan (Salman Khan) and Arjun (Shah Rukh Khan) who she manages to raise on her own. When Durjan finds out about Durga, he decides to kill her as well. But, her two sons manage to stop him and end up getting killed themselves. Distraught and devastated, Durga prays to God to bring her sons back so they can avenge her humiliation and the death of their father. Twenty years later, her two sons come looking exactly the same as they did before they were killed and successfully manage to take revenge from Durjan Singh by killing him and fulfilling the promise made by their mother. Probably the biggest attraction in this film was the rare sight of Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan bonding as brothers.
Dilwale Dulhaiya Le Jayenge (1995)
Director: Aditya Chopra
Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol, Amrish Puri, Anupam Kher
This is easily the biggest romantic hit in India. Both Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol would still be considered superstars if they had retired after this. It had elements of road-trip movies, boy-girl meet-cute romances, was peppered with Indian values and has a smattering of patriotism as well. What more would anyone want, really. Raj (SRK) fancies himself as a player till he meets with Simran (Kajol) on a European trip and is smitten by her. Circumstances bring them close together and they end up falling in love. But Simran is an Indian lass at heart despite being brought up in England and won’t go against her Bauji’s wishes. So the family sets off to Punjab to see him married to the son of an old family friend. Raj too travels there on his father’s advice to patao her entire khandaan. The father does have a change of heart, in the end, what with Amrish Puri speaking one of the most quoted dialogues in ages — Ja Simran ja…jee le apni zindagi, leading to the famous train chase sequence. Jatin-Lalit’s OST, comprising songs like Mehndi laga ke rakhna, Tujhe dekha to yeh jaana sanam, and Ho gaya hai tujhko to pyar sajna is still a favourite.
Dil To Pagal Hai (1997)
Director: Yash Chopra
Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Madhuri Dixit, Karisma Kapoor
Yash Chopra showed he’s still at the top of his game by giving us a proper musical beautifully choreographed by Shiamak Davar. Rahul (Shah Rukh Khan) and Nisha (Karisma Kapoor) are the best of friends and perform dance-based plays along with their troupe. Pooja (Madhuri Dixit) is a classically trained dancer and is hopelessly romantic. Their paths cross when Nisha injures her leg during rehearsals and Rahul has to cast for someone new to play the lead in his new play Maya. Nisha, who is secretly in love with Rahul, is jealous of Pooja taking her place. The jealousy deepens when she becomes aware that Rahul is falling for Pooja. Ajay (Akshay Kumar), Pooja’s fiance, arrives at this stage. Rahul is devastated but the film gears towards a happy ending when Ajay sacrifices his love upon finding out Pooja’s and Rahul’s true feelings for each other. The film featured a dance playoff between Nisha and Pooja, with Nisha not caring for her injury in order to go one up on Pooja. Madhuri and SRK make you believe in their characters and you do sympathise with Nisha’s angst as well. Unheralded composer Uttam Singh got the biggest hit of his life with the film and songs like the title track, Le gayi le gayi, Koi ladki hai and more still resonate with us today.
Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998)
Director: Karan Johar
Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol, Rani Mukerji
Designer togs, cool collegians and a love triangle to boot, Karan Johar arrived on the movie-making scene with a bang with this film. Rahul (SRK), Anjali (Kajol) and Tina (Rani) study together in college. While the tomboyish Anjali is his best friend, he develops serious hots for new girl Tina, whose wardrobe consists of just mini skirts. He marries her and becomes a successful businessman. Tragedy strikes when she passes away soon after giving birth to a daughter. When the daughter turns eight, she reads a letter written for her explaining the love triangle. It was her mother’s dying wish to reunite Rahul and Anjali. How she does so with the help of her grandmother (Farida Jalal) forms the crux of the film. The film had a lovely cameo by Salman Khan who plays Anjali’s fiance. SRK and Kajol have an incredible camaraderie which was very much evident on-screen. Rani’s oomph added an X factor to the proceedings. The entire album composed by Jatin-Lalit sounds fresh and vibrant still.
Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham… (2001)
Director: Karan Johar
Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Jaya Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol, Hrithik Roshan, Kareena Kapoor
The film was Karan Johar’s take on Ramayana and starred the creme de la creme of Bollywood stars. Tycoon Yashvardhan Raichand (Amitabh Bachchan) and Nandini Raichand (Jaya Bachchan) adopt a child Rahul (Shah Rukh Khan). Rahul is as smart and diligent as his adoptive father and is all set to take the reigns of their business empire. He falls in love with Anjali (Kajol) who belongs to the middle-class. He rebels against his father and marries her and as a result, is turned out of the house. His younger brother Rohan (Hrithik Roshan), the biological son of Yash and Nandini, unites the family years later. The lavishly shot film offered an emotional rollercoaster ride. Jaya Bachchan’s character is shown to be that of a submissive wife who ultimately goes against her husband when she’d reunited with her foster son.
Director: Sanjay Leela Bhansali
Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Madhuri Dixit, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan
Shah Rukh Khan plays Devdas, a wealthy law graduate who returns from London and finds himself in love with his next-door neighbour Paro (Aishwarya). However, because of the class difference between them, his family doesn’t consent to their marriage. Devdas becomes heartbroken and becomes an alcoholic because of the pain of separation from his childhood sweetheart. Paro’s mother marries her into a family which is richer than Devdas’ family. She marries a widower with children who has no interest in her. Devdas finds succour in the arms of a courtesan Chandramukhi (Madhuri Dixit). He just can’t reconcile himself with the separation and his health deteriorates. In the end, he takes his last breath at the gate of Paro’s new home. She can only watch helplessly from afar as he dies.
Director: Yash Chopra
Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Preity ZInta, Rani Mukerji
Shah Rukh Khan plays an Indian Air Force officer named Veer who falls in love with a Pakistani girl named Zara (Preity Zinta). Veer rescues Zaara after her bus meets with an accident when she has come to India for a pilgrimage. The two lost their hearts to each other but Zara is already betrothed to Raza Sharazi (Manoj Bajpayee). Upon reaching Pakistan, Zaara realises that marrying Raza would now be a mistake. Veer too feels he can’t live without her. He comes to Pakistan in the hope of winning her over. When Zara’s fiancé finds out about Veer, he wrongly frames him on charges of being an Indian spy and sends him to prison. Years later, Saamiya Siddiqui (Rani Mukerji), a Pakistani civil rights lawyer decides to take up Veer’s case and bring him out of prison. To collect evidence about Veer’s innocence, she travels to his village in India and finds Zara running the school for girls started by Veer’s parents. She had escaped long ago thinking that Veer had died in an accident. After a 20 year separation, Saamiya manages to reunite the lovers and gets them married.
Director: Ashutosh Gowariker
Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Gayatri Joshi, Kishori Ballal
Based on Gandhian principles, the film’s maxim was a glorious lime by the Mahatma — Hesitating to act because the whole vision might not be achieved, or because others do not yet share it, is an attitude that only hinders progress. Swades is inspired by the story of Aravinda Pillalamarri and Ravi Kuchimanchi, the NRI couple who returned to India and developed a pedal power generator to light remote, off-the-grid village schools. The Bilgaon project is recognised as a model for replication by the Government of Maharashtra. Shah Rukh Khan plays a man who re-establishes hope in a changing India. SRK has always been accused of being the prince of escapist fantasies but with Swades Shah Rukh showed the world that he can play a flesh and blood character too. Here he played an NRI who chooses to come back to India to live the Gandhian dream of turning villages into self-sufficient units. The film gave a clarion call to our best and the brightest to give up their sheltered lives in the West and come back and start working for the betterment of their own motherland.
Chak De! India (2007)
Director: Shimit Amin
Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Vidya Malvade, Shilpa Shukla, Sagarika Ghatge, Chitrashi Rawat
Mir Ranjan Negi was a goalkeeper who unfortunately kept badly at one hockey match against Pakistan and was immediately branded a traitor when India lost. Years, later, he found grace when he became the coach of a successful women’s team. Shah Rukh’s character was partially based on Negi and the popular reach of the film helped him find some sort of closure. SRK was always (and still is) known as the king of romance but his stubble look in the film created a storm. Also, his alpha-male role where he’s taking absolute control of the hockey team and guiding them to victory was also something we haven’t seen so far. Gone was the lover-boy superstar, what remained was an athlete who got another shot at redemption. We all got goosebumps when SRK uttered, “ Sattar minute hai tumhare paas…shayad tumhari zindagi ke sabse khaas sattar minute…” as a motivational speech before the important decider match. It became an iconic piece of monologue, allegedly even finding popularity in B-Schools and motivational seminars. It never fails to energise us whenever we hear it.
My Name Is Khan (2010)
Director: Karan Johar
Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol
Shah Rukh Khan played a Muslim man suffering from Asperger’s syndrome, who due to circumstances gets accused of being a terrorist. The film touched a chord in the post 9/11 world and Shah Rukh Khan came in for a lot of praise for his valiant portrayal. Rizwan Khan (Shah Rukh Khan) has suffered from Asperger’s syndrome since childhood. He’s brilliant at repairing things. His brother takes him to American where his sister-in-law recognises his condition. He meets a Hindu woman, Mandira (Kajol), who has a young son Sam from a previous marriage. The duo hit it off and soon married. She takes his surname after marriage and after the 9/11 attack, that leads them into trouble. Sam is bullied by his neighbourhood kids because of his new surname and is later killed in a hate crime. A shattered Mandira wants to break all types with Rizwan. She tells him the only way he can get back in her life would be if the US president acknowledges his name is Khan and he’s not a terrorist. He begins a journey across America to fulfil his quest, experiencing many adventures along the way. He finally does get to meet President-elect Obama, who fulfils his wish.
Chennai Express (2013)
Director: Rohit Shetty
Cast: Deepika Padukone, Shah Rukh Khan
40 something Rahul belongs to a family of mithaiwalas. When his grandfather passed away at 99, his grandmother requested him to submerge the ashes at Rameswaram. He sets out in the Chennai Express from Mumbai, planning to get down at Kayan and join his friends on a road trip to Goa, reasoning that all oceans are one and he would rather have some fun and submerge the ashes in Goa. He gets off at Kalyan but forgets to collect the pot containing the ashes. He runs back to the train and then helps a girl and four others — in a spoof of sorts — to DDLJ — get inside the train. The girl, Meenamma (Deepika Padukone) is running away from her family, the guys are goons sent by her father to collect her and as he’s witness to a crime — one of the goons pushes a TC off the train — he must ride with them to their native village in Chennai Express. The two become friends during the picturesque journey and later he helps her escape again, falling for her in the process. The film ends with Rahul and Meenamma being accepted as a couple by her family and he fulfilling his grandmother’s wishes by submerging the ashes at Rameswaram.
Director: Maneesh Sharma
Cast: Shah Rukh Khan
Shah Rukh Khan starred as a crazy lookalike fan who was obsessed with the star, again played by Shah Rukh Khan in this taut thriller. Gaurav (SRK) bears an uncanny resemblance to Aryan Khanna (SRK), which helps him win a local talent show impersonating his favourite star. He embarks on a train journey to Mumbai to meet Aryan. When another actor says unpleasant things about Aryan to the press, Gaurav beats him up and makes him apologise. Aryan gets him arrested and humiliates him, telling him that he isn’t a true fan. Enraged, Gaurav swears revenge. He begins impersonating Aryan both in India and abroad and ruins his reputation. Aryan lays a trap for him with the help of Gaurav’s parents and manages to catch him. He wants Gaurav to lead a normal life but Gaurav chooses to kill himself instead.
Director: Aanand L Rai
Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Katrina Kaif, Anushka Sharma
Zero was an ambitious project by Aanand L Rai that revolved around a dwarf whose ambitions knew no limit. Anushka plays a genius-level space scientist, who tragically is suffering from cerebral palsy and is wheelchair-bound in the film. Shah Rukh Khan’s character Bauaa meets with her and tries to impress her. He feels that his being a dwarf and her being on the wheelchair all the time makes them compatible. She cuts off all ties with him when she finds out he is interested in a film star Babita Kumari played by Katrina Kaif. Bauaa returns to her and becomes a volunteer in a space programme sending people to Mars. He does complete the mission successfully but isn’t able to return.