My earliest memory of watching a movie or rather sitting for a movie in theatres is Veer-Zaara. I was barely 5, and of course, I remembered parts of the movie and understood none of it. I watched it again years after that (8 to be particular) as a teenager and cried like a toddler. I revisited it again last year to see if it still holds the same emotional hold over me and surprise surprise, I cried like a teenager. 

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I remember being pleasantly surprised with Chak de India in 2007. By this time Shah Rukh’s image of this romantic hero had been cemented in my head and it felt so refreshing to see in what remains my favourite performance of him.

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And when it was announced that he had 3 releases as a lead in 2023, I went to the theatres to love all of them. I even made sure I went to an old single-screen theatre with my friends to experience Pathaan in the most energetic environment possible. I came out of the theatres liking Jawan, had mixed feelings about Dunki, and for Pathaan, I found everything else in the theatre interesting except for what was happening on the screen.

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This blockbuster comeback, despite what I feel with rather mediocre movies, made me wonder if, at this point, I like his off-screen appearances more.

Recently, there has been a spree of the countless SRK reels surfacing on our feed, his witty replies to journalists and interviewers, emotionally vulnerable moments, and sometimes just the best philosophical advice one can get in life.

It’s needless to mention how the world is a fan of his witty humorous responses, but what I find the funniest is his affinity towards self-deprecating humour. This is evident in his appearance in shows like Barely Speaking with Arnub or his dig on his Wankhede ban, “arey idhar bulalo kahin ban na karde” when Abram was running around a stadium. I was pleasantly surprised to see him in his AIB interview where even in a room full of my favorite comedians, he was the king of the ‘jesters’. These countless instances of his humorous takes are funnier than the jokes in Happy New Year and Dilwale combined.

When I think about a ‘Hero’, the first thing that comes to my mind is the jaw-dropping hero wale dialogues. And Shahrukh is a master of mic-drop dialogues in his interviews. The statements like, “I am the Indian for all ages” while receiving CNN Indian of the Year or the “Ab toh duniya maanti hai” in Aap ki Adalat would have brought thunderous applause in the theatres, unlike some of the dialogues from his recent ventures.

His moment of absolute swagger when he tossed away his notebook saying ‘Abey jaa’ when asked about his biggest competitor was more enthralling for me than his hanging midair from a helicopter. Chills, literal chills.

The thing that I find the most endearing is his vulnerable side which he is not hesitant to show in his interviews. Be it opening up about his deceased mother with Simi Garewal or him candidly admitting to his regrets over losing friendships on KWK, these moments were genuine tear-jerkers for me unlike the hollow emotional scene at the interval block of Dunki where he promises his friends to take them to London. That scene seemed so over the top and comical to me that I almost laughed in the theatre.

His responses to the tricky questions in KWK to make Kajol feel special while leaving no stone unturned to express his admiration for his other female costars make him the Romantic heartthrob he is. His impromptu putting on a ring around Gauri’s fingers in an interview or his numerous endearing fan interactions show how naturally charismatic the man is.


Honestly, his recent romantic incarnations, in movies like Jab Harry Met Sejal, have not lived up to his image of “World’s greatest lover”.

We miss the Shah Rukh of the old days, the man never shied away from telling new stories or taking risks. In the decade of 2000s, he took the mammoth risks of starring in the most audacious projects like Paheli, Ra.One, Asoka and Devdas.

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I understand the kind of movies he is choosing to do, he has to live up to his stardom in terms of delivering constant blockbusters. The risks taken with his recent more refreshing projects like Fan, and Zero haven’t fared well. This has to do with the audience’s rejection of his doing these kinds of roles and the final product not being as good as it would have looked on paper.  

But I am genuinely frustrated with him trying to play safe. I mean, this is the same man who took the risk of starring in negative roles in projects like Baazigar, Anjaam, and Darr despite the risk of being typecast. He gave us movies like Main Hoon Na, Swades, and Veer Zaraa in the same year. Three movies of absolutely different genres, and with Swadesh he told a story that he felt needed to be told, not caring about the box-office numbers.


Over the years, the man’s off-screen persona has been instrumental in establishing his salience, for which the audience resonates with him like no one else. His story of ‘The outsider boy from Delhi who became the Badshah of Bollywood’ is the perfect manifestation of what The Indian Dream dreams look like. It has become more difficult for him to separate his roles from his larger-than-life personality, resulting in more reserved and narrower choices of roles he could pick up. But I and the other countless fans are still hopeful, that the man who is the manifestation of hope will be back to his best, not just in terms of box-office numbers, but also with stories that leave a lasting impression on us long after we have left the giant dark theatres.