Who knew that a boy born on this day in New Delhi in 1965, would be destined to become the king of hearts all over the world?
With an illustrious career that not only shaped the modern Indian film industry as we know it but also put Bollywood on the path of global adoration, Shah Rukh Khan is an icon whose performances and wit have left a deep impact on us all. From making us believe that if we truly want something or someone in our lives, the entire universe will conspire to bring it to us, to convincing us that love is a far more powerful base for relationships than blood, SRK is the reason we all hold a special place for Bollywood in our hearts and romanticise romance a little more.
From playing every girl and their mother’s favourite Raj in Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge to bringing back the country’s favourite villain Don, Shah Rukh Khan has been a defining persona of most of our memorable Bollywood superhits.
In honour of his 58th birthday, let’s revisit some of his most underrated performances.
A cult favourite thriller about a young man seeking to avenge the fall of his family, this Abbas-Mustan- directed film was, in hindsight, a project that redefined Khan as a talent to be reckoned with. Being known exclusively for a chocolate boy persona up until his performance as Ajay, a villain, Baazigar was proof of his versatility as an actor. Seeing him smoothly oscillate from a romantic hero singing duets with Kajol to being villainous through the plot of the movie, this should have been our first guess that Khan was no ordinary actor.
KABHI HAAN KABHI NAA, 1994
Known to be not only one of Khan’s best performances, but also one of his personal favourites, Kundan Shah-directed Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa is one of the OG coming of age romantic comedies that we will always be comforted by. Building on a love triangle with two boys and a girl, this story is about Sunil—a simple, scruffy guy with a heart of gold who falls in love with his band mate, only to realise she is in love with another one of their bandmates. Sunil tries to create a rift between his two friends only to get caught, and eventually accept his love as lost. The movie ends with destiny making a girl, played by Juhi Chawla, cross his path, and soon we see Sunil happily walking into the moonlight with her, leaving us feeling good that he’ll be alright. Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa is a testament to the simple, uncomplicated, and everlasting charm of King Khan in all its glory.
YES BOSS, 1997
Directed by Aziz Mirza, Yes Boss is another feel-good romantic comedy that makes us fall in love with Khan. His character, a young man named Rahul Joshi, is trying to build a lavish life for himself by flattering his shady boss and becoming his right hand man. The plot reels us in with Khan’s character caught between a rock and a hard place when he falls for a model that his boss wants him to impress on his behalf. As he tries to get our heroine to get impressed by his boss, they begin to fall for each other. The movie satisfies us with a befitting ending—Rahul leaves his bootlicking days behind and chooses his love above all else, as vowing to become wealthy on his own accord.
This masterpiece by Ashutosh Gowarikar was another score that rounded off Khan’s star personality. Playing the role of Mohan Bhargava, an NRI NASA scientist, Khan adds a sense of pride and patriotism to his persona as an all-round star. Mohan comes back from the US to his homeland to reconnect with his nanny and gets passionately involved in solving the issues he sees in her village. He uses his knowledge to help his own country prosper and evokes a sense of pride in Indians at a time when most educated Indians wanted to settle overseas for a better quality of life.
RAB NE BANA DI JODI, 2008
Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi was a breath of fresh air. The natural way in which Khan assumed the role of Surinder Sahni from Amritsar made us root not for a superhero or a sexy villain, but for an ordinary middle-class man. Suri is silently in love with his wife and the movie shows the journey of how this unlikely couple falls in love. Khan’s depiction of mellow Suri and vivacious Raj, two sides of the same coin, created an utterly engrossing yet intensely comforting experience. By making us root for Suri instead of Raj even as he played both versions of the character, Khan gave a nod to the common Indian man living his normal life, someone who wasn't dancing in the Alps or performing larger-than-life stunts on motorcycles.
MY NAME IS KHAN, 2010
This Karan Johar-directed movie is about the struggles of Muslims in post 9/11 America, the lives of people living with Asperger's Syndrome, and the beauty of an interfaith love story. The story introduces us to Rizwan Khan, a Muslim man with Asperger’s Syndrome in America and his journey to meet the President of the States to tell him the words “My name is Khan, and I am not a terrorist”. His Hindu wife, played by Kajol, blamed him for the racially driven death of her teenage son post the 9/11 attacks. Khan’s portrayal of Rizwan tugged on everyone’s heartstrings and started a dialogue among his audiences on such topics.