Bollywood's king of romance, SRK has played a villain and a hero. He's been the protagonist and he's been the 'starry' cameo.
I have literally grown up watching Shah Rukh Khan bring alive characters from all walks of life. Perhaps that's why his characters have always spoken to me. And this is what Raj, Rahul, Mohan Bhargav, Kabir Khan, and countless others taught me:
1. Sunil from Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa
Love can't be forced and moving on may not be easy, but it's necessary. Also, not all protagonists have to be 'heroes'. (Long before OTT, it was Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa that gave us a relatable romantic lead.)
2. Mohan Bhargav from Swades
Patriotism isn't about hiding your nation's flaws. It's about loving your nation enough to change those flaws, together, and build a better world.
3. Kabir Khan from Chak De! India
Cliched as it may be, actions do speak louder than words, and you do hold the power to shape your destiny.
4. Dr. Jehangir "Jug" Khan from Dear Zindagi
It's okay to put yourself first. And also, therapy can be scary and emotional, but it's also so important for our mental health.
5. Ajay Bakshi from Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani
At times, simply doing your job, is the greatest act of bravery, and the greatest service to the nation. (Also, Ajay Bakshi may have not said it explicitly but the film definitely did: news and media should remain a pillar of democracy, and not turn into a business commodity).
6. Rizwan Khan: My Name Is Khan
It's okay to fight for things you believe in, and while there is no religion greater than humanity, practicing your religion doesn't make you evil - distorting religious teachings to manipulate people does. (Also, a reminder we all can do with: a free and just society is one where people are judged for their actions, not their religion.)
7. Veer Pratap Singh from Veer Zaara
There is more to love than just passion. Also, boundaries are man-made, but people are the same across borders. (That brilliant, heartfelt poem in the courtroom can make you ignore the less-than-stellar makeup also).
8. Shah Rukh Khan (as himself) from Luck By Chance
I am still not sure if he was playing a character or playing himself. But his advice is one for the ages - never forget people who knew you, even when the world didn't.
9. Rahul Joshi from Yes Boss
Shah Rukh's characters from the 90s were never just "heroes", despite being protagonists. They were the first example of relatable heroes - who made mistakes and learned from them. Like Rahul Joshi, who taught me that it's okay to be ambitious and fight for what you want but you shouldn't let ambitions rob you of your humanity.
10. Amarkant Verma from Dil Se...
He may have played the romantic hero in many films but none of the characters taught me to love as deeply as Amarkant Verma.
11. Raj from Baadshah
You can be 'too cool for school' and still be a nice guy. Let's admit it, Baadshah has to be the coolest spy ever!
Writers create characters. Actors bring them to life. Yes, it takes an army to turn a story into a movie. And every individual, from the director to the technician, has a role to play. But ultimately, what the audience remembers is the story, the character... and the actor. And if there is one actor whose characters have made a place in our hearts, time after time, it has to be Shah Rukh Khan.