On Shahrukh Khan’s 55th birthday here are 9 films of his that break away from his iconic King Of Romance title, and while no can romance like the Badshah, it is always a delight to watch him do stuff that breaks apart from his quintessential persona. Some of these films, despite having a romantic premise, aren’t infused with his standard cutesy lover-boy essence and prove that he is an actor of high calibre.
1. Maya Memsaab: The 1993 film is a mysterious drama starring Deepa Sahi, Farooq Sheikh and SRK, who plays the role of a passionate young man named Lalit who is having an illegitimate affair with Deepa Sahi’s character Maya, who is married to Dr Charu Das (Farooq Sheikh). Maya has an insatiable hunger that she tries to satisfy by indulging in extra-marital affairs; first with Rudra (Raj Babbar) and then with Lalit. The film is devoid of any grand gestures of love that we see usually when it comes to the King Of Hearts, but he is magnificent in this movie. There is a childlike joy in him that is unwittingly contagious, making you smile helplessly. He plays a mundane partner who can find happiness merely by being in the arms of his lover. Shahrukh’s role, despite being quite small, leaves an impact only because of how subtly yet splendidly the actor pulls it off.
2. Hey Ram: Kamal Haasan’s Hey Ram starred SRK in a very short but significant role: he played the character of Amjad Ali Khan, a friend of Saketh Ram’s (Kamal Haasan). Despite not being on screen for a long time, his presence is extremely strong as a man who values brotherhood. His dialogue and craft are so brilliant that he gets into the very skin of Amjad Khan. He makes you wish to see him perform more such roles that are meaty and layered. The film was Kamal Haasan’s dream project and is regarded as one of the finest films on Indian Independence. However, if there’s one thing common amongst SRK’s other films and this one, it’s that he doesn’t fail to rule our hearts with his natural performance as a Pathan who is willing to forgive and ask for forgiveness.
3. Josh: In this film, SRK plays the role of Max, a gangster who is enraged when his sister Shirley (Aishwariya Rai) falls in love with Rahul (Chandrachur Singh), who is the younger brother of Prakash, the leader of the rival gang. Shahrukh Khan is priceless in this one; he skilfully channels his charisma into a badass gangster with a short fuse and a punch always ready to be thrown. From the accent to the demeanour, there is nothing that Shahrukh hasn’t got right; in fact, he is so flawless in being the ‘Bhidu’ that he comes off extremely sexy with the leather jacket and earring. No one can pull off the bad boy look like SRK.
4. Asoka: Asoka is a tale of the great warrior emperor who went on to become a patron of Buddhism. Shahrukh Khan is flamboyant as Asoka. It requires a different level of dedication to play the titular role of the heir of the Maurya Dynasty. His character goes through a range of emotionally demanding events that shape him and lead him to his eventual retreat into peace, and Shahrukh shows this with sheer skill and splendour. He manifests Asoka in the great light that he is looked upon, yet never deviating from grounding the character. His craft in this movie is absolutely organic and natural, not melodramatic or loud. SRK seamlessly blends invincibility and vulnerability.
5. Swades: Mohan is one of the very few characters of SRK where he underplays and attempts to break away from his natural larger-than-life persona that often overpowers his characters. However, Mohan is Shahrukh Khan, and Shahrukh Khan is Mohan — they are one and it is beautiful to watch him in this kind of light, and still be as awe-struck as you’d be with him playing a lover-boy Raj. He is simple, subtle and smooth in his character, making the entire film into a montage of patriotism and wisdom. His effortless performance is endearing to watch, making Swades one of his best films.
6. Paheli: Paheli has SRK in a double-role; the first is a ghost who falls in love with a newly-wed woman and the second is her husband. The ghost Shahrukh Khan pretends to be Lachhi’s husband as they are look-alikes. The movie is one of a kind and also becomes women-empowering on some level and has the ability to peek into the deep ends of human emotions. It is light, and leisurely presented, but at the same time isn’t meaningless. Shahrukh Khan beautifully pulls off the Rajputi dialect and makes it seem natural. His performance is top-notch as he plays the demure and silly husband, and the charming and adorable ghost-lover. To see SRK as a ghost who doesn’t understand the ins and outs of the world, and doesn’t believe in societal norms is extremely heart-warming.
7. Chak De! India: Kabir Khan is a personal favourite of all time because while no one can do a bubbly lover-boy like the King Of Romance, there is no one who can pull off wisdom and maturity like him either. He has an air of ambiguous sorrow that surrounds him and enables the audience to look at him as a falling star that you badly want to catch. He is extremely successful is depicting a heart-rending paradox that is completely devoid of tears or grimaces, but yet consumed in wholesome emptiness. There is an odd sense of attractiveness that comes off Kabir Khan, maybe the fact that he is so unreachable, or maybe the fact that he understands the world for he has seen too much of it. Shahrukh Khan beautifully manifests the essence of what Kabir Khan stands for.
8. My Name is Khan: This one is another personal favourite, mainly because of how adorable and loving Shahrukh Khan looks in this movie — you just can’t help but fall in love with him. After watching My Name Is Khan there is no chance that anyone can claim that Shahrukh Khan can’t act because, let’s face it, he is perfect! Playing a disabled character isn’t easy and is a walk on a very tight rope, but SRK does it as if it is his second nature. To show strength in a character that most generally would look demure and weak is another difficult thing to catch but there isn’t the slightest slip. Rizwan Khan is loveable and innocent, intelligent and strong.
9. Dear Zindagi: I don’t think there’s anyone who didn’t fall in love with Jug aka Dr Jehangir Khan because, despite not being the centre of the film, Shahrukh Khan becomes him completely and unabashedly. He comes off perfectly as the experienced, and wise therapist that you’d want to him to be while also blending understanding with a bit of eccentricity and radicalism. He owns the movie and teaches you to be yourself fearlessly. He is graceful and effortless as Jug, making you think that the character is tailor-made for him. He says his dialogues and makes his space in the film like a light breeze that nuzzles you refreshingly and lingers on your skin like a memory that you’d want to keep on experiencing.
Disclaimer: This article has not been written by Film Companion’s editorial team.