As the world solemnly marks the one year anniversary of the Covid pandemic, it is time to find comfort in the arms of the world’s best comforter. Here are top 5 Shahrukh Khan performances of yore to help you dispel the lockdown woes.
Where were you when the world entered the new millennium? Not yet dispatched to earth? Or, at home as a five-year old about to have her first movie experience on the VCR- Cinema Paradiso style? Like most 20- somethings today, my tryst with cinema began with Bollywood; more specifically, it began with one man: Shahrukh Khan.
It is not surprising then, that in 2021 (a dark tunnel with no light at the end of it – yet), I found myself going back 20 years to meet that guy from the screen again; that guy whose dimples made both mothers and their daughters blush. In no particular order or rank, I present to you, five SRK films from the early 2000s for you to binge this weekend. Four of them are streaming on Netflix right now.
1. Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani (2000)
A get-the footage-at-all-costs reporter (SRK) falls for an equally no-nonsense reporter ( Juhi Chawla) from a rival new channel, in this hilarious portrayal of hypocrisy in Indian institutions.
There are media wars, corrupt politicians, a rape-revenge angle, a love story – all told with the subtlety of the sledgehammer (nuance wasn’t a thing back then). But no one is complaining here. It’s an all out SRK show and you can’t get enough of him.
Favourite Scene: The song ‘ Banke tera jogi’. There was a giddiness, as a child, to learn all the dance steps in this Farah Khan choreography. Not to mention, the spy thriller sequence (with Johnny Lever) happening in the background, is an added bonus.
2. Main Hoon Na (2004)
There was something endearing about watching your favourite man on screen making fun of his ageing self. Major Ram (SRK) unabashedly admits to not looking like a college student and everyone reminding him of the fact leads to some of the funniest moments in the film.
This Farah Khan directorial debut cleverly combined the old Bollywood tropes – song, dance, fight, desh-bhakti with the emerging MTV hipster vibe that was just catching on in India. The script, the pacing, the dialogues were all so crisp that I didn’t even realize how terribly Zayed Khan acted in the film
Favourite Scene: Everytime SRK would break into nanha munna rahi hoon, in front of Miss Chandni ! Plus, all the scenes featuring the spitting Physics teacher, Prof. Rasai ( the incredible Satish Shah) deserve a special mention.
3. Paheli (2005)
The first half of the first decade of the millennium (too many firsts here) was a special time in SRK’s career. He had just launched his Red Chillies Studios and was really experimental with the kind of stories he wanted to tell through his home productions. SRK being SRK, wasn’t afraid to take risks. Hence, we got Paheli – an oddball in SRK’s filmography by all standards.
A newly-wed Rajasthani bride (Rani Mukherjee) falls for a ghost (SRK) who enters her life masquerading as her husband, Kishan Lal ( SRK). This fable-esque tale of a woman’s choice to love another man who isn’t her husband, to feel empowered by that choice and finally find her own voice through that love, set this film apart from an average SRK romantic flick. On top of that, you get two SRKs with a moustache. What more can you ask for?
Favourite Scene: The song dheere jalna, followed by the moment when ghost-SRK enters Lachchi’s chambers and declares his true identity and love to her. There is passionate desperation in his voice to hold her close, but the ghost understands the value of consent more than most humans do.
Veer Zaara (2004)
If someone asks me about my favourite romantic film of all time, I will name this one. SRK as a pilot – already sold, aren’t we?. The tragedy alone makes this film stay with you forever. The ache is pronounced by the melodious tunes sung by Lata and Udit Narayan. Veer Zaara wouldn’t have worked without its melancholic album. Who can listen to do pal ruka yaadon ka karwan, and not shed a tear or two?
A Pakistani Muslim, Zaara (Preity Zinta), falls for an Indian Hindu, Veer ( SRK) slowly, reflectively; unlike Veer, who couldn’t take his eyes off her in their first (dramatic) meeting. It is to Yash Chopra’s credit that he didn’t make his heroine fall in love with the hero just for the sake of it. Zaara’s Lahore floods with Veer’s charms only when her impending nikah looms dangerously close.
Favourite Scene: The iconic bridge scene. ‘Aap kitni baar meri jaan bechaye gein? Aap jitni baar apni jaan gawaye gein’. WE NEED TISSUES HERE.
Kal Ho Na Ho ( 2003)
In the final scene of KHNH, Naina Catherine Kapoor Patel (don’t ask) reminisces about Aman (SRK), ‘ uss ne mujhe pyar karna sikhaya, uss se, aur apne aap se’. She may have been echoing the feelings of all moms, girls, children, and babies towards Shahrukh Khan at that moment. He made a permanent home in our hearts by inviting us into his arms (always open) as he ran across Brooklyn Bridge crooning, ‘her pal yahan jee bhar jiyo. Jo hai samaan, kal ho na ho’.
The film taught me two things. SRK has perfect comedic timing (the bromance with Saif Ali Khan’s character deserved a spin off) and that … he can’t cry on screen. Barring the last 30 minutes of the film ( his attempts at weeping are more painful to watch than watching him die), this Dharma production sealed the stardom of SRK by giving him a larger than life role, precursor to his larger than life persona.
Favourite Scene: Aman, Kabir and Kantaben in the same room. I rest my case.
Not an SRK fan? Here are 5 Amir Khan Films you can binge-watch instead