So, with this new movie, there’s going to be a lot of comparisons with past SRKajol films and judgments and greatest hits lists and so on. So I thought, why not join the party! Before I’ve even see Dilwale, so my judgement is not yet sullied. And then I realized, picking a #1 all time best SRKajol film is easy, but the 5 (6, now) after that are hard.
#1, of course, is DDLJ. I say that not just because it is my favorite movie of all time, but because, objectively speaking, it is the highest quality film they have been in together, and the most beloved. The script deals with issues ranging from structural feminism to first versus second generation immigrants to marriage as a personal or societal undertaking. Plus, it has Shahrukh’s all time greatest acting moment:
If you don’t remember all the other awesome bits of the film, YRF conveniently put together this remix for the 20 year anniversary:
(I think I like the remix better than the original, don’t hate me!)
But what comes after DDLJ?
Kuch Kuch Hota Hai had the purest expression of love, longing, and the beauty of the SRKajol relationship:
(I could also have included the train station good-bye scene, the “Raghupati” reunion scene, the basketball scene, the charades scene….)
But Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham had a bigger plot, bigger cast, bigger everything. It was the most “Epic” one.
(supposedly, Karan collapsed while filming this, because coordinating 6 different stars and dozens of extras was so complex it drove him into a decline)
And then there’s My Name is Khan, the most ambitious one. It has the same social consciousness as DDLJ, but instead of being spread between dozens of different issues, it is set with laser focus on one. I would also say it is the bravest film, as the release was greeted with this:
And then there’s the pre-DDLJ offerings, Karan-Arjun and Baazigar. I wouldn’t say either of them are all time great films, but for what they are, they are the best.
Karan-Arjun has a certain innocence to it, because they are both so young and so enthusiastic, and just getting to know each other. Their chemistry is fresh and without any weight of expectations on it. So is their stardom and acting, look at Kajol fool around in hay and Shahrukh wriggle his little bottom at us! SRKajol wasn’t even supposed to be the big draw, it was supposed to be Salman-Shahrukh, which makes their chemistry feel like a lovely bonus, a little surprise for the viewer, instead of the structure upon which the whole film is built. It is definitely the most fresh and unaffected of their films.
And then there’s Baazigar. The film which got Shahrukh his first FilmFare award. By then, the directors knew they had lightening in a bottle with SRKajol. But this is a Abbas-Mustan film, which means plot is always King. Rather than change everything in service of their epic love story, the plot was just shifted a bit to allow the love story to support it rather than overturn it. This is the best SRKajol movie in terms of using their chemistry to support an overall narrative rather than becoming a narrative on its own:
(this isn’t just an SRKajol song, this is a subtle foreshadowing to the audience that Shahrukh’s character is not all that he seems, that he flirts with darkness at the same time as he flirts with Kajol. Heck, the title of the song means “Dark Dark Eyes”. Which is another clue to the big interval reveal that I don’t want to spoil. Boy, I should re-watch this movie!)
So, I would say DDLJ is the #1 best all time film made by SRKajol. Kuch Kuch Hota Hai is the best SRKajol film, since it is just about them and their relationship. Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham is the biggest film they have made. My Name is Khan is the most important-with-a-capital-I. Karan-Arjun is the one where it feels like they had the most fun. And Baazigar is the one with the best plot.
So, for Dilwale, my hope is that it is either a good film with good SRKajol stuff, an epic feel and an important message that is still fun and supports a good plot. Or else that it is the best in some totally different way we can’t even imagine yet without seeing it.