Article by Navneet Mundhra
As Shah Rukh Khan turns 48, I pick five top-notch performances, among many, of his fabulous career spanning three decades.
1) Kabhi Haan Kabhi Na: The foundation of Shah Rukh’s initial success was based on his courage to defy the conventions and topple the taboo. He bagged ‘Baazigar’ because Salman Khan did not want to portray a negative character as he (Salman) thought it would be detrimental for a mainstream leading actor’s image. SRK saw the great potential in the role and made it memorable. In ‘Darr’, a movie which was first offered to Aamir Khan, he enacted the role of a psychopath with elan and won rapturous applause.
But the movie which cemented SRK’s credentials as an actor to reckon with was Kundan Shah’s ‘Kabhi Haan Kabhi Na’. He played the role of a guy who unites the girl whom he loves with a guy (his best friend) she loves. SRK depicted a gamut of emotions (love, joy, envy and magnanimity) with fetching felicity. He exudes radiant vim and is remarkably subtle in the poignant moments. Watch the climax scene of the movie when he feigns ignorance even afer spotting the wedding ring and let Chris (Deepak Tijori) fetch it for Anna (Suchitra Krishnamoorthi). SRK triumph lies in the fact that despite the grey shades, he made the character of ‘Sunil’ eminently endearing. It’s one of the rare heartwarming movies which brings smile on your face while leaving a lump in the throat. Any lesser actor than SRK and the movie would have fallen flat on its face.
He won the Fimfare Best Actor (critic) award for the movie and has often stated that this performance is his personal favourite.
2) Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge: This is, unarguably, SRK’s most successful and loved movie. The role of a lifetime earned SRK the tag of a quintessential ‘romantic hero’. Raj’s incandescent innocence, impish ebullience, boyish charm and intense love for his soultmate mesmerized the women of all age groups – from 16 to 60. Exotic locales, stunning script, melodious music, marriage of Indian culture with modern outlook, cracking chemistry between SRK and Kajol and the distinguished direction by Aditya Chopra culminated into one of the greatest love stories on the silver screen. Renowned critic Anupama Chopra reveals in her book ‘Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge: The Making of a Blockbuster’ that inititally SRK was hesitant to do the movie as he felt it would be a regular love story but Aditya Chopra finally convinced him after a lot of prodding. SRK won his second Filmfare Best Actor Award (popular) for this movie.
The movie shaped the vision of a lot of filmmakers who went on to become hugely successful. Karan Johar and Sanjay Leela Bhansali have asserted that the one movie they wished they would have directed is ‘Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge’. The movie reinforced the bond between SRK and the ‘Chopras’ who continue to enjoy a supremely fruitful association. The movie is running in the ‘Maratha Mandir’ theatre of Mumbai even after 18 years of its release which is an unparalleled record in the history of cinema.
3) Kal Ho Na Ho: Though the movie was the directorial debut of Nikhil Advani, the mojo and pizzazz of Karan Johar, the producer and writer of the movie, was abundantly evident. It was a role tailor-made for SRK and he pulled it off with charismatic ease packing the esurient emotional wallop. Playing the character of ‘Aman’, who transforms the nondescript and prosaic life of ‘Kapurs’, SRK pitched in a winsome and wistful performance which is completely in the tune with the essence of the movie – the bittersweet symphony.
He charms the audience in sparkling scenes and makes them shed a lot of tears in emotionally-resonant sequences. Watch him emote exquisitely in the soulfully sonorous, and tastefully choreographed, title track of the movie which captures the philosophy of life beautifully. Also, it’s to his credit that the ‘homosexual’ undertone between his and Saif Ali Khan’s characters in the movie turns out zany without being kinky.
4) Swades: The superstar became an excellent actor transmuting his charisma into craftsmanship. SRK has often been accused of playing himself in most of his movies with little and no experiment in his choice of roles. But ‘Swades’ was a delectable detour which the actor undertook with earnest conviction. Though the movie tanked at the boxoffice, SRK received universal, unanimous and unequivocal critical acclaim from all quarters. He dismantled his lover boy image and sank his teeth into the character ‘Mohan Bhargav’, a man of earthy sensibilities, to get the intricacies right and came out with flying colours. Rarely has SRK looked so convincing in a role bereft of histrionics and grandeur.
After the commercial and critical failure of ‘Asoka’, SRK vindicated in ‘Swades’ that there’s more to his armoury than just romance and insouciance if a competent director thrown down the gauntlet at him with a brilliant concept and screenplay in tow.
5) My Name is Khan: The movie dealt with a sensitive subject and both SRK and Kajol conjured up superlative performances matching the content to the tee. SRK played the role of a autistic Rizwan Khan who sets out on a journey, following the death of his son, to meet the president of the USA. He lent immense gravitas to the character who tugs at the heartstrings without evoking pity or sympathy. The assiduity, warmth and kindness Rizwan Khan reverberate throughout the movie illuminating it with resounding radiance. Kajol deserve a special mention becasue without her SRK wouldn’t have been able to deliver such a commendable performance and vice versa. Both actors put up one of their finest performances of their gleaming careers.
Though the movie was not as successful in India as the previous collaborations of Karan, SRK and Kajol – Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham – it is, arguably, the most superior product among the three. SRK notched up his 8th Best Actor (popular) award at the Filmfare ceremony.
PS: Chake De India, Darr and Mohabbatein miss out by a whisker.
Vote for Shahrukh Khan Best Performances – You can pick upto 5 films
- The yardstick for the selection of top five movies is either a) SRK rising above the movie (Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa and Kal Ho Na Ho); b) Seems irreplacable (Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge); or c) Departure from his conventional roles (Swades, My Name is Khan).
- The role of Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (Slightly more mature) was on the lines of Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge so the latter is preferred as it released first and created a prototype.
- Swades is chosen above Chak De India as the former is more performance-oriented. Chak De India rode on patriotism flavour and incendiary dialogues.
- The choice of top five performances has nothing to do with boxoffice success of the movies.
- Since only five movies can make it to the list, it doesn’t denigrate or overlook other splendid performances of the actor.
- All lists have an element of personal like no matter how objective the author is. No list can satisfy all the readers as everyone has their personal favourites. Hence, this list reflects my personal opinions and observations. The website doesn’t necessarily share the same thoughts as presented in the article.