Birthday Special: There's a lot more to Shah Rukh Khan than his staggering success, his audacious experiments

Updated: Nov 02, 2019, 08:40 IST | Vinamra Mathur | Mumbai

As Shah Rukh Khan celebrates the day his fans desperately wait for, we look into some of his films choices that dared to march away from his celebrated charm and aura.

Picture Courtesy: Official Instagram Account/Shah Rukh Khan
Picture Courtesy: Official Instagram Account/Shah Rukh Khan

Ever since his ordinariness splashed on the celluloid in 1992, there's hardly anything that may be left to write about Shah Rukh Khan. The man has been celebrated, revered and abundantly scrutinised. Right from his indefatigable thirst to incessant struggles, his sensational debut to colossal blockbusters, Khan didn't merely come to make Mumbai his home, he came to own the city of dreams and fulfil his own.

Today, after starring in roughly 70 films and completing 27 years in Hindi Cinema, his wit and sharpness continue to stay intact. But we need to talk about his stuttering film choices as much as his magnanimous money-spinners. There were titles when he branched out of the shadows of his own stardom and attempted to veer into space he never explored. Which is why his audacity needs to be given attention to, and not merely his sensational successes!

These were the films where he allowed the actor to take the centre stage and make the star take a backseat: 

1. Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani (2000)

Shah Rukh Khan Birthday Special

His maiden film as a producer, this Aziz Mirza directorial was a scathing attack and a critical gaze at the sensationalism that has crept in the media industry. The audience wasn't prepared to see the actor carrying the tricolour and bleeding to save an upright man upheld for a heinous crime. That was the time when love was in the air, and patriotism was yet to be discovered.

2. Asoka (2001)

Shah Rukh Khan Birthday Special

The cult of Lagaan was hanging around this saga's neck like an Albatross since Ashutosh Gowariker had first offered his sports drama to this Khan. Asoka, as the moniker suggests, was the story of King Ashok, who gave up war and embraced Buddhism after the ugly bloodbath at the Kalinga War. The battle scenes had style and scale, and the endeavour to create a sweeping saga was laudable, if not entirely lucrative.

3. Swades (2004)

Shah Rukh Khan Birthday Special

Gowariker narrated another story of the heartland without relying on sappy sentimentality and screechy melodrama. Mohan Bhargava, played with remarkable restraint by Khan, was a NASA scientist who travelled back to India to meet someone special- Kaveri Amma. Their relationship cannot be deciphered in words, this was an important and progressive drama that was all about rediscovering your roots. Simultaneously, it also highlighted the backwardness and some brutal realities of rural India, and how one man attempts to make a difference. Swades was a film that brought Khan closest to reality, both on and off the celluloid.

4. Paheli (2005)

Shah Rukh Khan Birthday Special

How does one describe Amol Palekar's Paheli? In one line, this was a love saga between a human and a ghost. Rani Mukerji played a newly wedded and lonely woman who longs and pines for her husband's love and attention. Khan, the husband in question, is mostly away for work. A ghost impersonates her husband and enters her life, and then begins one of the most unusual and fascinating romantic sagas.

The fragrance of the small-town freshness was peppered by Palekar in almost every frame of this unusual and unique story. This is another attempt by Khan that deserved a lot more.

5. Fan (2016)

Shah Rukh Khan Birthday Special

Fan is arguably the actor's most personal film yet. It is also one of the most imaginative and thoughtful double roles! Khan played Aryan Khanna and Gaurav Chandna, and Chandna thinks Khanna is nothing without his existence. It was a film that attempted to celebrate Khan's legacy and give it a psychotic touch. Khanna was narcissistic and conceited, Chandna was a blend of vulnerable and vicious. And Khan gave both Khanna and Chandna equal gravitas and enough ground to shine. But it also went beyond a usual drama about a fan being enamoured by his idol, it was also a thriller about a fan scorned at the hands of that very idol. Fan was both dazzling and dangerous.

6. Zero (2018)

Shah Rukh Khan Birthday Special

Khan has always attempted to push the envelope when it comes to technology, and Zero was another such film. He played Bauua Singh, a motormouth dwarf who is defined by his unabashed attitude and unkempt demeanour. Fans were curious to see how Khan carries the role of a midget, fascinated after the portrayal, and even when Zero couldn't resonate with them as satisfyingly as the expected, Khan showed there's nothing that can stop him from being audacious enough to try.

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