Chances are, the times we speak of Shah Rukh Khan's acting prowess, the most popular film names to pop up will be Chak De! India, Swades, Hey Ram and/or Anjaam.
While each of these films are interesting, and well-acted on SRK's part, the fundamental problem with this premise is the assumption that his best performances come from characters where he doesn't play a romantic hero. There should be nothing wrong in celebrating your most notable, most boast-worthy characteristic. In Shah Rukh Khan's case, this characteristic is passion.
Be it on screen or off screen, there is nobody who can match up his raw, energetic passion. He makes sexist tripe like '6 din ladki in' sound super entertaining (Kal Ho Na Ho). He makes dancing in the middle of the desert in harem pants seem achievable (Dil Se). It is this very passion that takes Shah Rukh Khan's every romantic movie a notch higher.
In his upcoming film, Yash Raj Films' Fan, Shah Rukh Khan plays two characters. One of a superstar, named Aryan Khanna, and the other of a super obsessed fan called Gaurav. The film has the feel of a fast-paced thriller, and yet in a highly VFX-ed avatar, SRK looks just like a 23-year-old Delhi boy while playing Gaurav. In 'Jabra Fan', he dances with the carefree abandon of an aspiring nobody. He is 50 in real life.
Clearly in the 25 years since Shah Rukh Khan's big screen debut in 1991 with Deewana, one thing has not changed: his passion to be an actor, a superstar. And so, before Fan releases this week, we put together a list of films that best portrays this very passion that we have come to associate SRK with. Call it magic, acting, energy or anything you like: There's something about Shah Rukh Khan.
Kabhi Haan Kabhi Na
If there was ever an embodiment of the typical neighbourhood loverboy, it would be Shah Rukh Khan's character Sunil, from Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa. A cute story about an average boy's love for the girl of his dreams, Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa is typical Valentine's Day rom-com material, with songs that are hummable even today. Through the film, you find yourself rooting for Sunil, even when the world (within the film) is against him, and even when [spoiler alert] he doesn't get the girl at the end. Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa is Sunil's story, and Shah Rukh Khan makes Sunil's ethos his own, in the most relatable, endearing way.
Everything about Dil Se is poetic. The way Manisha Koirala is framed, the way Shah Rukh Khan looks at her, the way they both look at each other as the world falls apart behind them, Tigmanshu Dhulia's dialogues — one of my favourites is, Sabse zyada pasand mujhe yeh doori hai..kyun ki agar ye doori na ho, toh tumhare kareeb aane ka bahana na mile (I like the distance between us because it gives us an excuse to come closer) — all of it, and more. Shah Rukh Khan is able to show many different versions of this life-altering love he feels for a stranger: Infatuation, hatred, lust, longing, obsession, and veneration, and you go through these emotions with him.
Subhash Ghai's Pardes is a celebration of the underdog, and who better to explore the concept than Shah Rukh Khan? You are so convinced of SRK's despair in getting his lovergirl that for a large part of the first half you believe Apoorv Agnihotri is better suited for Mahima Chaudhury. It does come with SRK's approval in the song 'Do Dil Mil Rahe Hai'. However, when SRK croons 'Zara Tasveer Se tu' in a darkly lit garage, you realise who the true hero of the film is. Shah Rukh Khan's performance in Pardes makes you realise that not everything is won by being overt, and subtlety goes a long away.
Can we miss out on a film where Shah Rukh Khan plays himself? Given that Zoya Akhtar's debut film is about the film industry and many actors make a cameo in Luck By Chance, Shah Rukh Khan has the powerful role and the reason for that is the fact that he plays himself. Here is one Delhi boy who is arguably the biggest superstar in India, giving advice to an aspiring actor, also from Delhi. It can't get any more meta than this. For this reason alone, the scene in which Farhan Akhtar's character meets Shah Rukh Khan is one of the most interesting bits of Luck By Chance.