Shah Rukh Khan. What goes through your head when you first hear his name? His charm? His eyes? His style of romance? That shaky but distinguished voice of his? His enjoyable dancing style? Or even his signature bent-legged-open-armed posture which is known so well? I would like to think that all of the above would run through your mind when thinking of King Khan. However, all said and done, I have to admit that his eyes have always been the reason I’ve always sworn by him as an actor. I think it’s hard to find the expressiveness and emotion that SRK can always express even in a silent scene… all because of his eyes. As my ultimate favourite actor (and undoubtedly my favourite ‘Khan’) celebrates a Bollywood career of 20 years (which is still going strong), I thought I would touch on Khan’s characters which have made me fall in, believe in and be in love. And I would swear on my last penny and say that this feeling of mine would be mirrored by so many of his fans worldwide. (I’ve narrowed it down to just six characters and it’s probably been the hardest choices I’ve EVER made!)
The very first film that I actively noticed Khan in wasn’t his debut. The film co-starred Juhi Chawla and was a story about a struggling young man, Raju, whose only dream was to become a successful engineer. Yes, I’m talking about Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman (1992). The movie’s simplicity and good-guy-bad-influences hints are what make it such a pleasure to watch. This was, of course, the first look at Khan’s jodi with Chawla which went on to see much success in the years that followed. However, in this particular film, it’s safe to say that Khan’s portrayal of Raju’s determination, his romance and his innocence are what make him so easy to fall for.
One of the most special characters of his career, in my opinion, came the following year in Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa (1993). Playing Sunil, an aspiring musician who is pining after his childhood friend, Anna (playing by Suchitra Krishnamoorthi), Khan has gone on record to say that this is the character closest to how he is in person. For me, Khan’s constant but unsuccessful ways of trying to please and impress Anna and also the way in which his character’s kind-hearted-ness comes through is what makes this film so special. You almost want to give him a clone of Anna for himself because he loves her so much. KHKN is a sweet, innocent and overall must-watch film for SRK’s earlier years.
1995 was, arguably, the year that SRK’s hugely loved and admired romantic self made an appearance… and never really looked back. Following a try at characters with negative shades in Darr (1993) and Anjaam (1994), Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995) was the film that made everyone sit up and take notice of the romantic hero which would be win hearts in the years to come. As Raj Malhotra, the cheeky but loyal lover who crosses the seas to win the love of his lady love’s family, Khan’s rendition is completely unforgettable. His pairing with Kajol saw it’s second instalment in this film (the first being in Karan Arjun which released earlier in the same year) and cemented a jodi which created history. In fact, DDLJ has created history itself what with it’s continuous reign in Indian cinemas since its release.
The next character of SRK’s which makes my list is from my most favourite movie, Dil To Pagal Hai (1997). Rahul… naam to yaad rahega? And boy how I never forget! DTPH is a special movie for me and it’s all because of SRK’s Rahul. He is the best friend a girl could have, the most annoying of the bunch and the one whose hugs always do the trick… all at the same time. The one scene which always stands out for me in this movie and kind of defines Rahul’s character to a tee is when Rahul meets Nisha (Karisma Kapoor) at the beach when she’s feeling sad that her love is in love with someone else. It is perhaps the only scene in the movie that gives me a lump in my throat… even if I was to wtach it outside of it’s capacity in the movie. Once again, SRK’s expressive eyes do it all over again… Do what? Make me fall in love, of course!
Rahul (yes another one) Raichand. This is another character which I hold very close to heart… however, I prefer SRK in the second half of Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham (2001) rather than his romantic first half. The second half sees him define the typical kanjoos NRI and has me in stitches every time. Whether it be his aloofness, his protectiveness or simply his celebrated chemistry with Kajol, SRK as Rahul Raichand makes me want to keep watching K3G over and over. Karan Johar has always given SRK some fabulous characters but I honestly feel K3G loses SRK somewhere because of such a huge starcast… Kareena seems to rightfully hog the limelight but SRK is very much the one I always look forward to in this one!
In 2004, Khan’s rendition as a mature student in Main Hoon Na was one which found a place in my heart almost instantly. Major Ram Prasad Sharma and his whole get-up of a student which needs re-styling and who falls for his teacher is simply a role I could only see SRK in. I don’t think I laugh in any movie over and over again like I do in Main Hoon Na, particularly in the parts where Ram can’t stop singing to Chandni (teacher played by Sushmita Sen). He also plays the elder brother role to perfection in what is a role which defines a maturing Khan. I salute Farah Khan for making this happen.
I am pretty sure these won’t be the exact choice other SRK fans would choose in terms of their favourite characters played by Khan. This in itself is a huge achievement. In 20 years of cinema, if you have even one character which you are appreciated for then it’s fabulous but in SRK’s career he has given us so many. So here’s so the man who has made me fall in love over and over again with the same characters, the same romance and the kind of charm not possessed by many. Here’s to a decade of Rajs and Rahuls which have made him popular… but here’s a toast also to that Sunil who we saw even when SRK wasn’t the huge star he deservedly is today. Congratulations on 20 years in the business… and here’s to many more fulfilling roles and bent-legged-open-armed poses in an irreplaceable and unmatchable style.