For over 28 years, SRK has remained the undisputed King of Bollywood. He has ruled the Hindi film industry, the hearts of people and basically the whole world with his acting chops, deep eyes, a smile that can make people weak at the knees and his unmistakable charisma.
Most of his most memorable scenes are the ones where he’s either reciting intense monologues with his eyes brimming with tears or mouthing romantic dialogues looking at his heroines in a way that’d make even mountains melt. Here are some of his most memorable and powerful scenes that have left an impact on audiences even decades after.
1. Swades: While playing Mohan Bhargava, Khan was stripped of each aspect of his trademark performance and he made something really memorable out of it. The scene where he’s sitting by the window in a train with already moist eyes is one of his finest works to date. A child parades the railway platform with a pail full of water selling glasses for 25 paise each (yes, you read it right). Without uttering a single word, Mohan asks for a glass of water, gulps it down with great difficulty (making ‘hard to digest’ both literal and figurative), hands two rupees to the kid and keeps the glass with him. It’s a handsome two-minute scene and, as the train leaves the station, Mohan tries hard to swallow the lump in his throat and blink his tears away. There is guilt of privilege, disappointment and helplessness on his face. No arms wide spread, no generous monologues and no lavish sets. This is sheer brilliance in subtlety and gravitas in minimalism.
2. Devdas: While performing Devdas, SRK is both in his comfort zone and out of it. The performance is full of larger-than-life mannerisms, staged dialogues and moments that are created with beauty and grandeur. However, it’s in the ‘grey’ area actors often speak of that SRK’s work shines. Devdas is a lover, but he is flawed. He is charming, but possesses unmistakable misogyny. The one scene that stands out is a reflection of the film: tragic, extravagant and dramatic. It’s hard to not feel chills down your spine as Devdas mouths the famous “kaun kambakht” monologue. He’s drunk, drooling and messy with tears and alcohol all over his face and body. This scene is custom-made for the actor and star Khan is. The conviction with which he pulls off this scene is commendable. You can’t move your gaze away from him as he stumbles and falls and cries and faints; all this with an elaborate monologue on his lips. That’s Hindi cinema for you! Only a good actor can pull off minimalism as well as melodrama with equal excellence.
3. Kal Ho Naa Ho: If someone wants to see SRK in his true element, I can’t think of any greater scene than the famous “Diary Scene” from Kal Ho Naa Ho. The world first witnessed this scene almost 17 years back but the impression it has left on everyone’s heart is still strong and intact. Aman (Shah Rukh Khan) decides to read out loud from Rohit’s (Saif Ali Khan) diary thinking it might be some great things written about Naina (Preity Zinta). Upon finding the diary pages empty, Aman decides to instead speak his heart out to Naina pretending as if he’s reading those lines out of Rohit’s diary. The set-up is great and the stakes are high. Khan steps in with his acting chops and elevates the scene further. It’s pure manipulation but you don’t mind because you feel sorry for Aman since he can’t say these things to Naina himself. Aman’s eyes are brimming with tears as he keeps mouthing some of the most romantic lines in Indian cinema. There’s love, heartbreak and helplessness, all emoted beautifully by SRK. He may be comfortable in almost every genre but settings like these are the ones he’s known and loved for, and he has his fans asking for more every time.
4. Chak De India: It’s impossible to talk about the best scenes of Mr. Khan and not mention “sattar minute”. This scene is one with great stakes. The entire film revolves around the final match and the coach’s speech before the players hit the ground is bound to be momentous. Especially when the coach has been the driving force, the guide and also the glue that keeps the team together. Khan uses the crutch of his amazing screen presence, great voice modulation and those expressive eyes to milk the monologue and the scene to the best of his abilities. Results: “sattar minute” is not just an unforgettable scene but one with great repeat value. He is encouraging of his team, supportive of their work, and has given his blood and sweat in trying to prove misogynists wrong about Indian women. One can watch it umpteen times and yet experience the same wave of emotions as the first time.
5. Fan: Fan is a film which had even the SRK fan base divided. However, one scene that can undeniably shake every movie goer unfailingly is the one where Gaurav Chandna sees Aryan Khanna for the first time as a mob gathers outside his house for his birthday (much like how it happens for Khan in real life). Every expression, every beat and every emotion Gaurav goes through in that scene is captured perfectly. He looks at Aryan Khanna stunned for a few seconds and in no time starts screaming his name, just trying to be somehow heard in a mob of at least a thousand people. People are falling and getting out of control, and Gaurav just experiences a sense of madness as he tries to be seen and heard by his hero. There is an unwavering devotion in his eyes, the euphoria of actually seeing someone you’ve idolised all your life and the desperation to somehow catch his eye. It’s heart-wrenching to watch and at the same time develops a sense of wonder as to what kind of emotional understanding it must’ve required to be in a hall of mirrors and yet try to gauge what people at the other end must feel like. On paper, this scene must’ve looked good. But on screen, Khan takes it to another level. The film may or may not touch your heart, but this scene tugs on every string.
SRK’s performances may sometimes get undermined by his mesmerising charm and the shrill noise of his devoted fan following. Yet, he has always managed to shine even when his films couldn’t. His filmography (with great scenes in each) can give us a glimpse of how Khan’s performances have matured over the years and he has consistently gotten better. The undisputed King of Bollywood and charm may not always deliver the most critically acclaimed films or the highest grossers, but his talent cannot be denied.
Disclaimer: This article has not been written by Film Companion’s editorial team.