The ‘Baadshah of Bollywood’, Shah Rukh Khan’s characters have been a part of our lives for over 30 years. And the magic he has created on the silver screen has brought smiles, anger, tears, and joy to millions of people for years.
So, here’s a look at some of his most powerful cinematic moments that we can never forget:
1. When Mohan experiences the guilt of privilege in Swades.
The speech where Mohan confronts the villagers and calls out the archaic beliefs destroying our society, and our country, is nothing short of legendary. But personally, the moment that sent shivers down my spine, was Mohan’s reaction to a child selling water for 25 paise. Without any of the melodrama that people associate with both, Hindi movies and SRK, Khan exposed the guilt of privilege that clings to him more strongly than the dirt from the village roads.
2. The 70-Minute Speech in Chak De! India.
Is it the speech that makes this scene iconic, or the man speaking it? Guess we’ll never know because this scene is now, for perpetuity, associated with Shah Rukh Khan’s fiery delivery. Because apart from reminding the nation, that “iss team mein bas ek gunda ho sakta hai“, SRK, as Kabir Khan, also made motivation melodramatic yet relatable.
3. The song Main Koi Aisa Geet Gaon from Yes Boss.
I struggled a lot between Chaand Taare and Main Koi Aisa Geet Gaon from the film. After all, no one but SRK could make unbridled ambition look exciting like he did with Chaand Taare. But ultimately, I went with Main Koi Aisa Geet Gaon because there aren’t many men that woo the woman of their dreams with goofy antics and silly gestures. That, to date, remains SRK’s forte.
4. When he finds tea, and love, on a station in Dil Se…
While nothing will ever replace the sheer brilliance of Shah Rukh Khan dancing on top of a train to Chaiyya Chaiyya, the scene that I can never forget is when he meets Manisha Koirala at the train station. It starts so simply, with him struggling to find warmth, and a lighter, on a station in the middle of winters. It is then that he meets Manisha Koirala, and offers to get her tea to beat the cold – only, she’s long gone by the time he returns. And at that moment, when he says, duniya ki sabse choti prem kahaani hogi with a grin, he immortalizes the moment and the love story. It had Shah Rukh Khan, trains, and tea – and that made it the perfect “falling in love at first sight” moment.
5. The moment Shah Rukh Khan appears in the song, Mast Kalandar, in Heyy Baby.
He is not even in the film for an entire song, let alone a few scenes. And yet, he leaves you charmed. That’s the genius of SRK’s cinematic presence. Because the second he turns around with his outstretched arms and dimpled smile, you have the entire hall hooting at the surprise cameo, your own heart skips a beat, and you can’t help the smile that appears on your face.
6. When he worships in the middle of a field in My Name Is Khan.
It is a poignant moment where Noor-e-Khuda plays in the background and Rizwan Khan bows down in prayer in the middle of a field. A simple act, of praying, generates different responses but Khan is bothered by none of it. After all, his religious offerings are not for people but for himself.
7. When Veer and Zaara part ways at the station, in Veer Zaara.
It’s purely coincidental that I happened to pick another train scene for the list. But it’s no secret that the entire sequence, from before the song Do Pal Ruka plays, to the end, where Zaara bids him adieu with a silent adaab, is one of the most beautiful depictions of heartbreak. Whether it’s the simplicity of the dialogues, the purity of the song, Shah Rukh’s expressions, or all of them together, that make it such a memorable moment, is a mystery I’d rather not explore.
8. When Devdas’ mom asks him to leave the house in Devdas.
Shah Rukh Khan has often been critiqued for overacting and while it’s not an entirely unfounded comment, the truth also stands – no one does over-the-top, large-scale, Hindi film melodrama like him. And Devdas, specifically the scene where he talks about all the things “he’s been asked to leave”, is the perfect proof of that. Though the iconic “kaun kambakkht bardaasht karne ko peeta hai” is one for the books as well.
9. When Rahul flirts with Anjali at the local fete, in Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham.
Even the grandest of dates pales in comparison to Rahul and Anjali’s date at the ‘Chandni Chowk Ka Mela‘ and it is one of my favourite scenes from the film. And while everyone fawns over the song Sooraj Hua Madham (that is certainly spectacular), the moment that won me over was when Rahul flirted in response to Anjali’s mistaken belief that he was after her shop. The second he says, “aapki halwai ki dukaan toh main hadap ke hi rahunga“, he had me blushing and grinning from ear to ear. You don’t forget moments like that!
10. When Sunil almost hides the ring during Anna’s marriage, in Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa.
Sunil learns from his mistakes and realizes that love can’t be forced. But that does not mean he stops loving Anna. Right at the end, when Anna is getting married and her ring falls to the ground, he does not admit he’s located it, even though he sees it. Not like the lost ring was going to stop the marriage (it’s ultimately found) and one may think his actions are petty, or even foolish. But perhaps, at that moment, he was the most relatable, right down to the self-deprecating smirk in the end. We’ve all been a little foolish and petty in heartbreak, haven’t we?
11. The title track from Baadshah.
Baadshah is such an amazingly brilliant, not to mention self-aware, comedy of errors that it’s hard to pick just one moment from the film. But what I remember with absolute clarity is the title track. Because, not many people can claim to wear this suit and still rock the dance floor, like no one’s business. Also, if you think SRK’s entry in K3G is the most iconic then you need to revisit Baadshah and this song!
12. Dr. Jug’s advice to Kaira in Dear Zindagi.
Dr. Jug is probably one of Shah Rukh Khan’s most endearing characters. And while he left us smiling every time he appeared on-screen, his advice to Kaira about not judging herself for her past actions, made all of us be a little kinder to ourselves.
13. The “picture abhi baaki hai mere dost” speech from Om Shanti Om.
It’s an iconic speech. It’s a meme. Enough said.
Much like his speech, this list is also incomplete. Because you can’t sum up a career of countless memorable cinematic moments in just a few points.
In Bollywood, and dare I say, even in real life, a person standing with his arms outstretched is the accepted symbol of a man in love – that is the power of Shah Rukh Khan’s cinematic presence, being the universal symbol of love!