On Shah Rukh Khan’s birthday, revisit roles that broke him out of his romantic hero image
Shah Rukh Khan’s filmography is a classic example of ‘one for them, one for me’. The actor finds himself returning to the sort of roles with which he is synonymous - the widespread arms, the cheeky look in his eye, the trademark speech patterns - but he has also taken risks.
Sometimes, the risks have paid off - either through critical acclaim or via box office success - and other times they’ve backfired. But Shah Rukh isn’t above making fun of himself. He frequently talks about how the failure of Ra.One impacted him, and that was one of the biggest risks he has ever taken, both in terms of budget and scope.
So on the actor’s 53rd birthday on Friday, when he will unveil the trailer for his latest big-budget experiment, Zero, take a look at all the times he’s tried to break out of his romantic hero image, which he established in the mid ‘90s, after the success of Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai.
Directed by Kamal Haasan and featuring an all-star cast that included Rani Mukerji, Hema Malini and Naseeruddin Shah, Hey Ram is a semi-fictional account of post-partition India and the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi.
Director Ashutosh Gowariker’s acclaimed drama featured Shah Rukh as a NASA employee who returns to his Indian village and finds purpose in life.
Like Asoka, this was Shah Rukh’s attempt to make a romantic movie, but not like the ones he’d found success with in the past. In Paheli, SRK plays a ghost who falls in love with Rani Mukerji’s character. The film was submitted as India’s official entry for the Oscars.
Don and Don 2
Directed by Farhan Akhtar, the Don movies went on to become two of the biggest films of SRK’s career, and established him as more than just a romantic hero, but also an action star.
Chak De! India
Shah Rukh’s much quoted film enjoys a great life post release, with its songs played at nearly every patriotic event and its repeated screenings on important national holidays. Shah Rukh’s intense performance (and facial hair) captured the audience’s imagination.
Billed at the time of release as one of the most expensive and ambitious Bollywood films of all time, Ra.One failed to attract much attention, and is now seen as a major failed passion project for the actor.
Fan opened to massive numbers, thanks to a bold new creative direction for SRK - he played a fictional version of himself and a psychotic fan in the film - but petered off as word of mouth negatively impacted the film. Interestingly, Fan enjoys a much more positive reputation among foreign critics than it did back home.
Playing a toned-down mentor similar to the one he played in Chak De, SRK was hardly the lead in Gauri Shinde’s drama, starring Alia Bhatt.
After the film’s release Shah Rukh had expressed relief at finally being able to describe it as what it is: a gangster movie. But as with Fan, Raees scraped by at the box office, its approximate Rs 300 crore business couldn’t compare to the Rs 500 crore plus hits his competition, Aamir Khan and Salman Khan, were delivering.
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