SRK: The superstar's larger than life journey from 'Fauji' to 'Jab Harry Met Sejal'

A Potpourri of Vestiges Feature 

Shah Rukh Khan's penchant for acting knows no bounds. He became the nation's heartthrob in the 1990s thanks to his remarkable acting performances in films like Darr, Baazigar, Anjaam, Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa, Karan Arjun, and Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge. Since then he has only grown in stature as an actor. In fact, his roots themselves are so strong and deep-set in acting, that we can understand how he has been able to deliver one powerful performance after the other, no matter what the genre of the film is. Tracing back to the humble Ramleela performed in his colony in Delhi, where SRK had first tried his hand at acting, is where the journey started. Then he further honed his skills at Barry John’s Theatre acting school. In fact, his acting abilities, have a lot to do with his theatre background. That explains how seamlessly he fits into any role and makes it his. His first foray into acting were with the TV shows Fauji and Circus, where he left an everlasting mark. Soon, with Deewana, his first feature film, he got considerable recognition as well that only set the stage for more to come.

With Baazigar, Darr and Anjaam, SRK made decisions other actors would shy away from. He played the anti-hero with great aplomb, making you love the wrong guy in the film, from the word go. While some felt he shouldn’t have played such negative characters, it was his belief in his talent that made him nail the performances. The world was ready for Shah Rukh Khan, but Shah Rukh Khan had always been ready for the world.

These roles defined SRK’s image in the early 90s until Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge changed everything. In between, SRK also played boy-next-door characters. Who can forget the young SRK of Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa oozing with nervous energy? Towards the late ‘90s, SRK ended up with more serious roles and SRK was certainly up to the challenge. During this phase, Dil Se was by far the biggest challenge for SRK and not merely because the role was a demanding one. For starters, SRK didn’t know Tamil while Mani Ratnam didn’t speak Hindi. It certainly must have been a daunting task but the actor managed to pull it off with aplomb. SRK's performance in the film remains one of the best of his career.

A hallmark of SRK’s career has been his eagerness to take up bigger and newer challenges as an actor. Although, his detractors claim it otherwise, SRK has been one of the most versatile actors of Hindi cinema. SRK himself summed it up candidly in an interview: “I am an actor. I can be a part of Mani Ratnam's world. I can sit with fight masters and talk their language. I can sit with the head of states of the world's biggest countries and chat with them over a formal dinner. I can sit down with Mr. Tim Cook and talk for 2 hours. And I can sit with AbRam's nanny and really enjoy myself. I can become who you are. And films are like that.” SRK is the thinking man's actor and its evident in the memorable acting performances he has delivered over the years. Even when SRK does out and out commercial films like Happy New Year and Om Shanti Om, he offers us much more than an average performer could offer. Even his staunchest critics vouch for his commitment and daring as a actor. 

In Dear Zindagi, SRK played the role of an uber-cool counselor named Jehangir Khan aka Jug. It's difficult to think of another star in his position who would have agreed to take the backseat as he did. SRK's charm is indeed perennial. Continuing to be brave in his choices, Fan deserves a special mention. People moved out of the theatre, forgetting, that it was SRK potraying both the superstar and the fan. He broke the mould of stardom. His performance deserves nothing short of a National Award for portraying both Gaurav and Aryan. Raees was no different wherein he played a Gujrati bootlegger. The USP of the film was SRK's brilliant chemistry with Nawazuddin Siddiqui. Siddiqui has a particularly meaty role in the film and often his character finds itself at a lower pedestal than the character played by Siddiqui. Now we often get to hear the news of stars using their influence to get the other actors' parts trimmed at the editing table but clearly SRK doesn't suffer from any such insecurity. 

SRK's upcoming film Jab Harry Met Sejal is a rom-com directed by the ace filmmaker Imtiaz Ali. The film stars SRK in the role of a tour guide and stars him opposite Anushka Sharma. The movie's promos and songs have been creating buzz all around and now it remains to be seen how well it gets received by the fans. By the looks of it, it comes across another of those roles that only SRK can pull off. As SRK continues his romance with cinema we would be remiss to expect anything but the best from SRK the actor. After all this self-belief in his talent, his incomparable knowledge, wit, charm and gentlemanship in real life, will cement his position as number one for generations to come. He is, after all, a super-actor and a superstar. And we firmly believe, that the best is yet to come.

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