The gloom of COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdown took ominous proportions with Bollywood losing its luminaries for reasons as varied as succumbing to a terminal illness, virus and even by suicide. In all this, there was one silver lining when cine-buffs took to the media to celebrate – and that was 28 Years of Shah Rukh Khan in cinema. For those in the dark, the actor first catapulted from Television to Bollywood with the film Deewana, opposite Divya Bharti, in 1992. He has gone on to become one of the biggest movie stars in the world since.
No one other than the Khan himself has summed up his journey best. “28 years and counting,” wrote Shah Rukh, adding, “Don’t know when my passion became my purpose and then turned into my profession. Thank u all for so many years of allowing me to entertain you. More than my professionalism I believe my ‘passionalism’ will see me through many more years of service to all of you.”
The timing could not be better. His story stands tall at a time when the narrative of nepotism and witch-hunting is threatening to tear the Hindi film industry apart. A reminder that in an industry being accused of numerous levels of toxicity, it is still possible to dream big, overcome the odds and become a Shah Rukh Khan.
Cine Blitz gives you 28 more reasons to celebrate this Khan – as he broke rules, redefined stardom and conquered his dreams…
1. A second-to-none debut
Deewana was a two-hero film, with Rishi Kapoor being the biggest star and Divya Bharti, the rising star. Audiences, however, walked away talking about the second hero, Shah Rukh Khan, who literally burst out of the screen with his entry song – Koi Na Koi Chahiye Pyar Karne Wala. The actor, already known for his work on television, went on to scorch the big purdah as well. He went on to win the Best Debut Actor award for it as well.
2. A gamble in the dark
After playing the supportive, sometimes lost boyfriend in ensemble film-after-film with established actors like Juhi Chawla, Naseeruddin Shah, Nana Patekar and Co, he turned the table around and took control – but as an anti-hero! A gamble that many in the industry saw as harakiri for a rising hero. But his stalker-act in Darr and throwing-the-heroine-off-the-terrace in Baazigar made history, with Anjaam completing his troika of anti-hero deeds.
3. Kabhi good, kabhi bad
Having proved a point with Darr and Baazigar, he continued to play the bumbling hero in Ketan Mehta’s experimental films like Maya Memsaab and Oh Darling Yeh Hai India and Kundan Shah’s dramedy Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa. His love-struck musician act is considered to be his best performance and won the Best Critics Award. Interestingly, he also won the Best Villain Award for Anjaam that year. With this, he came to be known as ‘the new face of Bollywood’.
4. Making history with romance
Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa kickstarted his romantic-hero journey, albeit in a small town. His landscape for romance would get bigger and legendary in Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (DDLJ) set in London, Europe and Punjab. It went on to establish Shah Rukh Khan as one of the most romantic heroes in the history of Hindi films. The film with its NRI hangover would go on to redefine modern romance in India, as it symbolically had one foot on the threshold of a global world scenario and the other, firmly rooted in its Indian-ness.
The magic of Shah Rukh-Kajol (including their DDLJ avatars, Raj-Simran) can still cause a frenzy among cine-lovers. And if you need any proof of its legend, just step into Maratha Mandir theatre after the lockdown, where the film continues to run 25 years after it first released in 1995!
5. Chartbuster spinner
Debutant, anti-hero, romance, action, comedy, tragedy, sports, hit or flop – no matter what the phase, there has been no dearth of music in Shah Rukh’s life. He has been giving chartbuster-after-chartbuster right from the time he burst on the big screen with Koi Na Koi Chahiye in Deewana.
You can rattle off Yeh Kaali Kaali Aankhen, Badi Mushkil Hain, Ae Kaash Ke Hum, Tujhe Dekha Toh, Yeh Dil Deewana, Chaiyya Chaiyya, Zara Tasveer Se Tu, Kal Ho Naa Ho, Ankhon Mein Teri Ajab Si, Chammak Challo among others. It’s a playlist reminiscent of Rajesh Khanna days, where music played a big role in establishing him as India’s first Superstar.
But unlike Khanna, there’s never been that one voice-association with him. In fact, there have been several voices singing for him – from Vinod Rathod, Amit Kumar, Abhijeet, Udit Narayan, Kumar Sanu, Sonu Nigam, Sukhwinder Singh, Shaan, Shankar Mahadevan, KK, Rabbi and even international pop singer Akon. And yes, SRK tried singing himself too with Apun Bola Tu Meri Laila (Josh). While his sur was debatable, it still topped the charts back in 2000.
6. A global breakthrough
Films that followed after DDLJ would continue to reiterate the NRI themes and romance, each one strengthening his position at the box-office as well as the king of romance. However, Dil Se with Mani Ratnam, which flopped in the country, ironically turned out to be crucial in making the actor the King Khan that he is today. Besides being a huge success overseas, it’s the first Indian film to feature in the UK’s box-office charts.
7. Establishing a Khan-daan
With his success story, SRK completed the film industry’s new-age Dilip Kumar- Raj Kapoor-Dev Anand troika with the other two Khans – Aamir and Salman. Much before 100-crore clubs came into being, there was the Khan club or the Khan trio to contend with. The other Khan waiting in the wings was Saif Ali Khan, while Farah Khan was the female Khan who was more a choreographer than an actor. Khan was considered to be the magic word at the box-office, just like ‘Open Sesame’ was to Ali Baba.
8. Badshah of brands
Actors in the past did not believe in taking on too many endorsements, as they believed that it would lead to overexposure, which might kill their mystique as stars. Shah Rukh Khan had no such issues and appeared in three ads in 1993, which subsequently increased to another three endorsements the following year.
In 1996, when he signed on Pepsi, he began his journey as the King of Endorsements. In 2008, he had 38 endorsements to his credit. The SRK brand continues to be the darling of corporates, who consider him the model celebrity endorser.
9. SRK ka stamp
King Khan, Badshah of Bollywood, Badshah of Brands, King of Romance, King of Bollywood – he’s been given many epithets, but the most popular remains the acronym of his name – SRK. The actor, reportedly, wanted to copyright it and sent an application to the Trade Mark Registry, so no one else could use it without permission.
10. Pose master
If the acronym SRK came to stand for him, then his stretched out arms came to be his signature pose. No film, TV show, conclaves or event, including international shows are complete without him having to strike that pose at least once. Interestingly, the pose came into being when the late choreographer Saroj Khan was shooting with him for the title song of the film Baazigar.
In an interview Saroj Khan said, “We were shooting Baazigar O Baazigar in Mauritius. There is a back shot, where he opens his arms, then he turns and reveals the name on his chest by opening his shirt. I gave him this action there.” The rest is history!
11. Setting a landmark
SRK also provided a new landmark to the city of Mumbai with his house – Mannat. It is one of the most popular tourist attractions, where people come and take pictures near the gate. It has also become a darshan spot for his fans on his birthdays or during festivals like Eid. The heritage house was originally called Villa Vienna and was owned by a Parsi gentleman. This heritage house in Bandra is often seen in its original appearance in many Hindi films of yore.
12. Producer Khan
Restless to make his kind of films put Khan on the path of becoming a producer. His production company, Dreams Unlimited with actress Juhi Chawla and filmmaker Aziz Mirza, had to be shut after two ambitious ventures – Phir Bhi Dil Hain Hindustani and Asoka failed. Dreamz Unlimited was revived as Red Chillies Entertainment with wife Gauri Khan featuring as a producer.
It’s one of the biggest production houses today, with a robust record that features the biggest hits (Main Hoon Naa, Om Shanti Om, Chennai Express) as well as some duds (Zero). It’s now creating ripples in the digital world, too. His Red Chillies VFX has also emerged as the film industry’s go-to post-production supervisor for visual effects.
13. Sporting hero
SRK’s reputation as an astute businessman gained ground when he went on to own a cricket team in the Indian Premier League. Once again, his co-partner is Juhi Chawla and their cricket team, Kolkata Knight Riders. The actor went on buy two more cricket teams – Trinidad and Tobago Team from the Caribbean Premier League and the Cape Town team In the South African Premier League aka The Global League.
14. Hero with a classic recall
SRK seems to filmmaker’s first choice when it comes to remaking iconic films. As a rising star, he was seen doing a Raj Kapoor in Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman, which was loosely based on Shree 420. But when Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Farhan Akhtar decided to remake Dilip Kumar’s Devdas and Amitabh Bachchan’s Don with him, he had become the King Khan.
“I never chose my films. The directors chose me. Bhansali told me ‘there is something in your eyes’ and asked me to do Devdas. Farhan thought I could play the character of Don,” the actor said, adding that he now wants his own films to be remade.
15. Naam toh suna hoga?
The moment you say Raj or Rahul, everyone thinks of SRK’s many romantic avatars in those names. Interestingly, he made his debut as Raja in Deewana, which subsequently went on to be Raju in another film till he became ‘the’ Raj after Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge. He has played characters named ‘Rahul’ in nine films.
16. Dialogue baazi
What would a Bollywood hero be without his dialogues? And SRK has more than his share of iconic dialogues, and it all began with: “Kabhi kabhi jeetne ke liye kuch haarna bhi padta hai … aur haar kar jeetne waale ko baazigar kehte hai” in Baazigar. Dialogues like “Bade bade deshon mein, aaisi choti choti baatein hoti rehti hai, Senorita” (DDLJ), “Agar yeh tujhe pyar karti hai toh yeh palat ke dekhegi … palat … palat!’ (DDLJ), “Rahul naam toh suna hoga” (Dil Toh Pagal Hai), “Har team mein sirf ek hi gunda ho saktha hai … aur is team ka gunda mein hoon” (Chak De! India), “Picture abhi baaki hai mere dost” (Om Shanti Om) “Don’t underestimate the power of a common man” (Chennai Express) have very high recall value.
17. Prize catcher
SRK is said to be one of the most decorated actors in the country. And he made a start right from his first year in Bollywood, when he won the Best Debut Award. The actor also received the Padma Shri award in 2005. He has also been awarded the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the government of France and the fifth degree of the French Legion of Honour, the Chevalier Légion d’honneur.
The actor has also received five honorary doctorates – The University of Bedfordshire, The University of Edinburgh, Maulana Azad National Urdu University and The University of Law and La Trobe University.
18. Return to TV
Before entering Bollywood, Shah Rukh’s last appearance on television was in Wagle Ki Duniya in 1990. He would return to it as King Khan 17 years later with Kaun Banega Crorepati. The actor had replaced Amitabh Bachchan in that one season of 2007. He would then go on to host the Indian versions of Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader? and Wipeout with Kya Aap Paanchvi Pass Se Tez Hai? and Zor Ka Jhatka : Total Wipeout respectively.
The actor has really found his groove with Ted Talks India Nayi Soch, which goes with his urban image, modern outlook and wit. Sample this quote from the show: “I truly believe that humanity is a lot like me. It is an ageing movie star, grappling with all the newness around itself, wondering whether it got it right in the first place and still trying to find a way to keep on shining regardless.”
19. Gift of stagemanship
No film event – awards or concert – seems incomplete without Shah Rukh Khan. He’s one of the most wanted celebs to anchors awards shows. His wit and on-the-spot improvisations are legendary. Anchoring comes naturally to him, and he has been doing it right through his novice days in filmdom to his superstardom. He’s also known to perform at weddings.
20. Speech appeal
His oratorial skills are legendary. Considered to be one of the most educated actors in Bollywood, SRK is a graduate in Economics, who left Mass Communications studies mid-way to pursue acting. However, he continues to be a voracious reader and that is evident in his speeches. His wit combined with his knowledge, choice of words and examples have only left people in awe, time and time again.
Heard this one from his speech at the University of Edinburg? “Hindi filmon ki tarah life mein bhi, anth mein sab kuch theek ho jaata hai. Aur agar na ho, toh woh anth nahi hai…picture abhi baaki hai mere doston. Take it as the only truth you need to know. Take it and believe it because the most unlikely to make it in Bollywoood is telling you this… the most romantic hero who doesn’t look anything like chocolate or taste like it.”
21. Fights and bans
It’s not all hunky-dory being a Shah Rukh Khan for sure. His super-success has also attracted super controversies – and they have involved fights, bans and profiling. The Kolkata Knight Rider owner was banned from Wankhede Stadium by the MCA (Mumbai Cricket Association) after he allegedly misbehaved with the security guard and hurled abuses at the officials.
The actor was in the news for being racially profiled (and reportedly several times) because of his surname during his travels to America. “Whenever I start feeling too arrogant, I always take a trip to America. The immigration guys kick the star out of stardom,” he quipped during his speech at Yale University. His fisticuffs with Salman Khan on two occasions caught the nation’s attention.
22. Taking on bullies
Time and again, Shah Rukh Khan has given back as good as he gets from political personalities – most notably, Amar Singh. The latter had always had a bone to grind with the actor since the time Amitabh Bachchan was given a 12th row seating, due to some confusion, at an event.
Later SRK, while hosting another event, quipped that he can see ‘darindgi’ in the politican’s eye. Piqued, the politico allegedly send a crowd to his house, which left his children, Aryan and Suhana, scared. The actor had to cancel his shoot and rush home. He warned that he will not spare anyone who’ll make his children cry.
23. Daddy cool
Today, you’ll see a lot of actors openly reveling in their fatherhood, but the first one to do that in Bollywood was Shah Rukh Khan. Aryan, Suhana and AbRam, the actor has always put them above everything else. Hands-on in their upbringing, Shah Rukh numerous posts – funny or philosophical – are about his children.
While he is the coolest dad around, he once revealed in an interview that the only condition he has for his children is : “You need to complete your education before doing anything. That’s the only thing I have told my children. Otherwise, they are free to be in the film industry, not be in it and do whatever they like. I will be supportive of whatever they want to do.”
24. Famous fans from around the world
Well, SRK is not the biggest movie star in the world for nothing. And he didn’t need to do a Hollywood film for that. His fans – big and small – come from all parts of the world. They include international celebs like bestselling author, Paulo Coelho, WWE wrestler and actor John Cena, actor Hugh Jackman, actress Penelope Cruz, pop singer Lady Gaga, rapper Pitbull, actor Daniel Radcliffe, singer Zayn Malik, actor Robert Pattinson, actress Kristen Stewart among others.
Coelho, who’s written ‘The Alchemist’, tweeted: “His first (and only) movie that I watched (this year, even if it was released in 2008) was ‘My Name is Khan’. And not only was the movie excellent, but SRK deserved an Oscar if Hollywood was not manipulated. ”
25. Film buying spree
SRK is living every cine-buff’s dream – he is buying the rights of not just films and television shows, but the classics over the year. But the difference between him and us is that he is not just making a library of the best of films, but the astute businessman is also going to benefit from its royalty.
26. Social media superstar
SRK has a massive presence on Twitter – with over 40 million followers on Twitter and 22 million on Instagram. While initially he’d use it to share some thoughts, he has now restricted it to promoting films, events or sharing selfies. Nevertheless, it still crackles with a lot of wit. The actor’s interaction sessions with his fans, that get tagged as #AskSRK, are eagerly awaited on social media. It’s fun and enlightening as well. Right now, the one question that he gets bombarded by is: When is he announcing his next film?
27. Pause perfect
For a superstar who’s known to be a workaholic, he did the unthinkable with the dismal show of his last film Zero at the box-office. He went on a break in 2018 and he is still on that mode in 2020. The actor, at various events and interviews of his, has candidly admitted that he has taken a break to introspect as an actor and filmmaker. While media keeps speculating his next move and announcing films for him, he is not succumbing to the temptation to clarify. Currently in ‘deconstruction mode’, he is in no hurry to break the spell.
28. … but Still (being) Relevant Khan during the pandemic
Break, pandemic or lockdown, SRK continues to be relevant even after having had no release for nearly two years. And when the lockdown was announced, the actor joined in making relevant contributions through his many ventures for the underprivileged affected by the pandemic, lockdown and storm. He even offered BMC his building as a quarantine shelter for COVID-19 patients and health workers.
Finally, the actor left his feel-good mark during the lockdown, when he sang his version of Bella Ciao at a tribute online concert from home. The actor, with able support from his son AbRam, sang a song that went: Sab Sahi Ho Jayega. Twenty-eight years since he made his debut, Brand SRK continues to drive the blues away, even in the age of lockdowns!