Hindi Film 101 One-Off: A Tour Through Shahrukh’s Filmography

This is just a random idea because I am in the middle of unpacking my Shahrukh DVD box and putting them in chronological order on my shelf.  It’s kind of fascinating to look at his career as a case study of how an actor’s career progresses.

Non-Usual Disclaimer: This list is from Wikipedia, not me, so blame not me them if something is wrong!

Deewana (1992): The first film that released, but not the first one he signed.  Shahrukh plays the second lead, really the 3rd lead.  More than anyone else, this is Divya Bhatia’s film.  Rishi Kapoor, on the way down at the end of his career, was willing to play second to her.  A similar role to his part in Chandni, the lover hero in the first half, and then returning at the end for a dramatic bit.  Shahrukh’s role is fairly empty on the page, the perfect young lover.  But he adds some surprisingly dark shades to it, real anger at his neglectful wealthy father, and kind of scary obsession in his love for Divya.

Chamatkar (1992): Super fun film, once again Shahrukh comes in second, this time to Naseeruddin Shah!  Who is having the time of his life hamming it up as a ghostly gangster.  Also being hammy, Shammi Kapoor!  And even the heroine, Urmila Matondkar.  Shahrukh as the “hero”, an innocent village boy, is the most boring character.

Dil Aashna Hai (1992): The first film Shahrukh signed!  He was an up and coming young TV actor and Hema Malini offered him a part.  He is essentially the 7th lead in this.  Coming after the heroine, Divya Bhatia again, and her 3 mothers, and her two potential fathers played by name actors (the 3rd guy kind of disappears), and then Shahrukh.  He seems a tad out of his depth, possibly partly because this plot is insane, partly because it is his very first movie.

Raju Ban Gaya Gentlemen (1992): Finally Shahrukh is a lead!  And he is opposite Juhi Chawla for the first time.  He was shy with her, since she was already such a big star and he was a nobody.  They have great chemistry together though, possibly their onscreen chemistry served as a kind of time machine showing what their offscreen chemistry would be like 20 years later.  This is also kind of a good movie!  No random ghost gangsters or mysteriously re-appearing husbands or 3 mothers.  Just a straight-forward remake of Shree 420.

Maya Memsaab (1993): Shahrukh’s second year in the industry started a bit off-beat.  A remake of Madame Bovary, in which he played the youngest and most innocent lover.  Also, a sex scene!  And, according to some dark corners of the internet, a nude scene (from the back, but still).  It’s interesting in general how he was able to move between all these different kinds of films without any big “he’s an artsy actor now!” or “He’s only in big dumb comedies!” or any other kind of label.  Maybe because there was less coverage of each little movie?  Or because actors cranked out so many films all at once?

King Uncle (1993): And he is back to second lead!  Well, 4th lead in this case.  It’s a remake of Annie, with Jackie Shroff playing Daddy Warbucks, Anu Agarwal playing the secretary role, and Pooja Ruperal (Chutki from DDLJ!) playing Annie.  And then there’s Shahrukh, in a completely invented role as Warbucks’ estranged younger brother.  He gets a young love song with his girlfriend, and he gets to tell off his brother a few times, but then he disappears for the middle third of the film.  But it is still a good film for his career, he got some good scenes, and he got to work with some good actors, and Rakesh Roshan directed and would work with him again in a larger role.

Baazigar (1993):  Shahrukh’s second movie of 1993 kind of over-shadowed this one as time went on, but this really was his big break.  It took all that darkness and layers and complexity that he managed to shove into his stupid juvenile lead characters and brought it out.  Really let him show what he could do.  This time, it was the heroines who had to share the spotlight, not the heroes.  And, of course, this is the film that introduced SRKajol to the world.  The ruled FilmFare that year, their hit “Kaali Kaali Aankhen” ruled the airwaves, and in one fell swoop, Shahrukh had leaped to the top of the younger actors list.

Darr (1993)  Baazigar is what made people notice him, but Darr is what made the right people notice him.  It’s also an all around better movie.  Once again, Shahrukh is playing a psychotic anti-hero.  Technically, he is less of the hero than he is in Baazigar, less screen time and so on.  But the character and performance are so spactacular, it’s hard to remember anyone else in the film.  You can see why Yash Chopra and Aditya made him the in house hero for Yash Raj, and why Sunny Deol was so mad about how his character was side-lined.  And why Shahrukh was willing to focus on this film to the exclusion of all others, cutting his 1993 output down to two.  Also, second film with Juhi!  But he was still so shy with her that he didn’t know how to talk to her and ended up spending all his time with assistant director Aditya Chopra instead.

Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa (1994): A completely illogical follow-up to Darr and Baazigar.  The sweetest character he has ever played, in the smallest simplest film.  No big stars, no big studio, no big director, seemingly no career advantage.  But his performance is one of those “so simple and that’s what makes it difficult” kind of roles, to play an anti-hero who is barely both “anti” and “hero”.  To this day, it is a performance that critics, Shahrukh himself, and even Gauri Khan, consider his all time best.

Anjaam (1994):  The forgotten anti-hero film!  And his first time co-starring with Madhuri.  It’s a completely odd plot, Shahrukh goes way too heavy on the “anti” and too light on the “hero”, it’s unpleasant to watch him.  Madhuri is the real hero, but as the tragedies pile up, it’s hard to believe that she just keeps going.  The songs are nice, but I recommend watching them and never seeing the film.  However, it is interesting that these two major stars, including Shahrukh on his way up and Madhuri the same year as Hum Aapke Hain Koun, could make this really not very good and very odd film, and it ends up forgotten entirely.  Once again, the industry was very different then.

Karan-Arjun (1995): This is the year it all happened.  It’s always hard to tell the exact moment when someone leaps to solid stardom.  DDLJ alone couldn’t have done it, just like Zanjeer alone or Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak or Maine Pyar Kiya couldn’t do it.  You need that one big hit, but you also need a solid body of work to back it up.  After slogging his way up through a series of minor hits and flops, 1993 showed SRK’s unique acting range, and 1994 showed his off-beat sensibility was alive and well.  But 1995 showed that he had come of age, he was ready to take the lead in film after film.  And it all started with Karan-Arjun, which was directed by his same director from the terrible King Uncle where he took a terrible role but reaped the benefit in a relationship, which co-starred his at-the-time good friend Salman Khan from around the industry, which featured his amazing chemistry with Kajol, and which let him play loverboy like in Raju Ban Gaya Gentlemen, and devoted son like in Baazigar.  This is what happens when you make 10 films in 3 years, there is a massive amount of experience and connections and everything else to draw on that makes that 11th film all the richer.

Zamaana-Deewana: This is such a random entry, especially in the watershed 1995 year.  I really like it, it’s got some amazing meta-commentary on film romances and filmi stylings.  Only, if you miss that it is meta, you think it is just a bad movie.  It does have some interesting collaborations that are unique in his filmography.  His second film with Anupum Kher after Darr, but they barely had any scenes together, this is where the Anupum-SRK special kind of magic really came out.  His only film with Raveena Tandon (they’ve got smoking sexual chemistry, it’s too bad they never worked together again).  And, most important, this is the last film made by Ramesh Sippy, 20 years after he changed everything by making Sholay.  I don’t know why he retired after this, could have just been tired of working, but based on the scathing way this film treats the 90s romance genre, I wonder if he was just disgusted with the way the industry was going.

Guddu (1995):  The first time Shahrukh and Manisha Koirala worked together.  If you took their two films and combined their quality, you would end up with one average film.  If you have seen Dil Se, the amount of bad that Guddu is to drive down the average should be apparent.  If you have seen Guddu, the amount of good that Dil Se is should also be apparent.  What I am saying is, this movie is a negative 10 on the goodness scale, and Dil Se is a positive 10.  This is a terrible terrible film.  Although it does have one really catchy song!  And, like Zamaana-Deewana, it is another film that looked back in film history, the writer Abrar Alvi was a frequent collaborator with Guru Dutt.  Unfortunately, the director of this movie was not Guru Dutt, and so the sensitive script was turned into a gosh awful mess.

Oh Darling! Yeh Hai India (1995): Taking a break from his terrible big budget films to make another off-beat art film.  The same director and heroine (the director’s wife) as Maya Memsaab.  This is kind of Tom Stoppard-does-“Bollywood”.  It’s very stagey, in a Brechtian way, consciously fake.  The audience had no idea what to do with it, especially with Shahrukh.  What is fascinating is that Shahrukh pulls off his performance effortlessly, his stage training really shows through.  But the audience had already slotted him in the “mainstream hero” role.  Unlike just a couple years earlier when Maya Memsaab came out and his arty performance was hardly noticed, this time it made people confused and upset.
Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995): What is there left to say?  I guess just to point out that at the time, no one knew how big a deal this film would be, but they knew it would be something.  SRKajol was already a thing, a Yash Raj film was always a big deal, and people had started to look forward to another Shahrukh film just because it was a Shahrukh film.  All signs pointed to it being a solid hit, the film that cemented SRK as a romantic hero (which is what Aditya promised him when he signed on), but no one knew it would be a record-breaking hit.  Even if it had been just a regular hit, however, in the context of 1995, it still could have brought SRK to another level of stardom.  He already had an action hit this year, and he’d proved himself over and over again as a leading actor in a leading role.
Ram Jaane (1995): And the year isn’t over yet!  Ram Jaane is not the greatest film and wasn’t the biggest hit.  But it was the movie that finally made Juhi and Shahrukh friends!  That bonding experience of being in a really really bad film, just nothing like it.  Raju Ban Gaya Gentlemen and Darr, they could think deep thoughts about their characters and practice their lines and all that.  But in Ram Jaane, nothing much to do but hang out on set and talk about what a terrible film this is.
Trimurti (1995): The last film of 1995!  And where I will be stopping for the day and picking up again on Thursday.  Shahrukh is in a multi-starrer again, taking the smallest part.  But building important connections, working with Subhash Ghai and Anil Kapoor for the first time.  What’s really interesting, if you look at the poster and DVD case, Shahrukh is front and center.  But in the film itself, he is one of 3 equal leads.  In the time between filming and designing the promotional campaign, his career had progressed that much.
Image result for trimurti poster
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33 thoughts on “Hindi Film 101 One-Off: A Tour Through Shahrukh’s Filmography

  1. What fun. Looking forward to Thursday! I re-watched Ram Jaane over the weekend, to celebrate it being on Netflix. Sadly the subtitles disappear about half-way through. It is baNANAs, but SRK’s and Juhi’s performances pull me in, and I’m moved by the tragic theme of–as you put it in the longer post linked here–Ram Jaane bearing the sins of the world so that Boring Actor and Juhi can remain clean but still keep the orphanage going.

    I also watched Chamatkar for the first time, because it too is part of the new (non-Dharma and YashRaj) SRK smorgasbord on Netflix. Some cute moments, especially in the songs, but I found myself fast forwarding quite a bit. Especially through the cricket match at the end. Yawn. I think my favorite part is the opening sequence animation–good line drawings of many of the characters. I’d love to know who did them. This blog has a fun review and screen shots of the animation. http://philmistani.blogspot.com/2012/05/summer-special-nostalgic-look-at.html

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  2. “And, most important, this is the last film made by Rohit Shetty, 20 years after he changed everything by making Sholay.”

    I’m pretty sure that’s not supposed to be Rohit Shetty 🙂

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    • No no, he directed Sholay when he was still a fetus. And then suffered a massive brain injury and everything he made after that was only half as good. It’s like a reverse Koi Mil Gaya.

      Yeah, I mixed up Sippy and Shetty, I will fix it.

      On Tue, May 30, 2017 at 2:27 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Lol, I’ve never seen Koi Mil Gaya 🙂

        Now that I think about it, I think I’ve only seen a couple Hrithik movies in total.

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        • Well, now I am waiting for Filmilibrarian to leap in here since she is our Hrithik person. But in the meantime, Koi Mil Gaya!!! You HAVE to see it! Skip Krrish and Krrish 3, but Koi Mil Gaya is fun and funny and also kind of touching. Also, Bang Bang if you haven’t seen it already. And Lakshya is Farhan Akhtar, so it is legitimately good. Oh! And Mujshe Dosti Karoge! And Jodha-Akbar. And maybe nothing else? His career is pretty uneven.

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          • I saw Bang Bang and I didn’t like it at all, well I was already in a bad mood when I started watching it, but I felt like it lacked heart. Lakshya has been on my watch list for a while but I haven’t seem to find it anywhere. Plus Preity’s hair scared me off once 🙂
            Once I was watching Jodha-Akbar but the website where I was streaming from crashed or something so I never ended up getting back to it. I stopped right where Hrithik and Aishwarya get married and the next morning I think Aishwarya asks for a temple/mandir.

            I have seen Mujshe Dosti Karege and I liked that one! I also liked him in Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara though my favorite was Farhan Akhtar. Oh, and of course, K3G! And Dhoom 2! Also he was good in Luck By Chance, I’m guessing you haven’t seen that one yet 🙂

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          • Oh, Bang Bang has no heart at all. It’s Dishoom, but lighter. Which is why I love it. It’s my go to cheer-up film, because it is just so silly.

            Jodha-Akbar is good, you should go back to it sometime. And Lakshya you can rent streaming, if you are willing to pay $2.99. If you liked Zindagi, it’s probably one you should check out. Priety’s hair is much less scary in context.

            Of course, I’m a hypocrite saying “watch this, watch that!”, and I still haven’t seen Luck By Chance.

            On Wed, May 31, 2017 at 7:37 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • I really wanted to see Lakshya at one point, but I mainly forgot about it. I’ll get to it eventually.

            Well you have around 20-25 people telling you to watch multiple movies though 🙂

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          • Margaret, I’m surprised you haven’t seen Luck By Chance, but I don’t remember if you loved her other two films? It’s definitely rawer and Hrithik’s extended cameo performance is one of his best.

            Hi Niki! Since our host has commanded I recommend some Hrithik movies, here I am! 🙂
            It does seem like you’ve seen a good number of Hrithik films and I’m glad you liked Mujshe Dosti Karoge…it’s probably my favorite Hrithik film…even if I usually say it’s Jodhaa Akbar! I have just realized that I have seen every one of his films except for his child-acting and the last two brief cameos in Main Krishna Hoon and Hey Bro. Wow!

            His career and his acting are both incredibly uneven. I can rant for days on how his loyalty to working with his father has hampered his career and his film choices, especially because he doesn’t work as much as other actors but at least more than Aamir.

            My personal favorites are MDK, Jodhaa Akbar, Dhoom 2, Bang Bang, and Agneepath. MDK is a sentimental favorite and a great Mills and Boon hero portrayal and I love the Rani/Hrithik jodi. In Dhoom 2 and Bang Bang he is basically the same character and he is peak sexy and fun Hrithik. And Jodhaa Akbar and Agneepath are just great performances (and also performances where the styling or his acting tics don’t completely ruin it for me).

            If you like movies with heart, Lakshya is really very strong at its thematic core. Preity’s hair is bad but Hrithik’s in the first half is a travesty.

            If you like MDK and that era of films it is worth checking out Na Tum Jaano Na Hum and even Main Prem Ki Diwani Hoon. The first is actually very similar in tone and performance to MDK and Esha Deol isn’t terrible in it. The second is much maligned and is fun to hate-watch. I think it more than Yaadein is the real reason why Kareena and Hrithik can never be paired again. It’s so stupid and I always end up rooting for Abhishek to end up with Kareena’s character.

            Fiza and Mission Kashmir, two early films dealing with terrorism, are both really well acted and very intense and I can recommend them both if you don’t mind dark stories. And only in Agneepath and Kaabil (awful…see above about working with his dad) has he done gritty realism since and I wish he would pick more stories like them.

            And see how I haven’t recommended any of the films his dad has produced or directed (sorry, Rakesh, you were better as an actor I think). Many disagree and obviously the Krrish series and his debut are huge hits, but I cannot stand them.

            Guzaarish and Zindagi Na Milege Dobara are my second-tier favorites.

            And the less said about Mohenjo Daro the better. It could be my least favorite of his films.

            That’s my Hrithik rundown!

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          • This was so fascinating seeing it written out like this! I may need to do a Hrithik filmography discussion similar to my Shahrukh one. In a lot of ways, his filmography is more interesting from a film history perspective, since he was launched at such a changing time in the industry and has had such an up and down career.

            Also, you are absolutely right about the Lakshya hair. Joining the army was the best thing for him, if only for the mandatory hair cut.

            On Wed, May 31, 2017 at 1:11 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • After taking a look at his filmography, I did realize that I’ve seen a good amount of Hrithik films. I don’t think I loved any film of his which is probably why I forgot about a quite of few of them.

            I like K3G but I often find the Hrithik-Kareena parts to be boring. I wish there was more SRKajol in the second half as well.

            I liked him in Dhoom 2 but that was around the time when the movie came out, I don’t think I’ve rewatched the movie in years. I didn’t like Bang Bang, it was way too light and the romance didn’t work for me at all.

            Agneepath’s another one that I’ve been meaning to watch along with Lakshya. I was wondering if I should watch the original first or if it’s better not to?

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          • Agneepath-wise, the new one is definitely a better film as a whole. But the old one has a great Amitabh performance (and the whole thing is based on his father’s poem, so it’s really really an Amitabh movie). I would say, watch the new one, because it will be easier to follow and enjoy. And then watch the old one if you are curious for the comparison.

            On Wed, May 31, 2017 at 8:37 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  3. I think really what this early filmography shows is that SRK was just taking anything that came his way and tried to do his best with it. Which is of course exactly what a young actor trying to establish himself should do. If you did a similar analysis of Aamir’s or Salman’s early filmography, you’d find the same kind of all over the place type of films (except there are no art films for Salman). I’m always most impressed by the two Ketan Mehta films. I actually really regret that both SRK and Salman became such big stars by the end of the 90’s that they then started playing their image instead of actual characters. I find their early films much more interesting. Aamir did the reverse, he really didn’t come into his own till quite a bit later in his career, and, despite all the box office records, I think he reached his peak of doing “interesting” films with TZP. I find myself less and less interested in the current output from all three of them.

    Thank you for being the only SRK fan online I have so far found who actually thinks Anjaam is not worth watching. I had to turn it off half-way through as it was way too disturbing, and I was amazed that so many of SRK’s fans described it as a “fun” movie.

    I bought a bunch of SRK dvd’s in my early fandom (and also when cheap dvd’s were available), and one of them is Ram Jaane, which I have yet to watch. I was kind of working my way up to it when I read so many bad reviews of it that I just thought, “What the heck?” and put it on the back burner.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I might do a similar analysis for Salman and Aamir at some point. I find it really interesting how those random choices based on what was offered end up all falling into place and benefiting in the long run. Like you say, it’s what young actors should do. If Shahrukh had turned down King Uncle just because it was a small part and a terrible script, not only would he have missed out on experience and a paying job, he might not have made that connection with Rakesh Roshan that lead to Karan-Arjun. It’s foolish to let this chances pass you by, you never know how they might pay off long-term, and short-term you should just be grateful for work.

      Ram-Jaane, just go to 17 minutes in, watch the first song and the fight sequence afterwards. If you enjoy it in a “so bad it’s good” way, then you will enjoy the rest of the film similarly. If you don’t enjoy it at all in anyway, then you won’t enjoy the rest of the film either.

      On Tue, May 30, 2017 at 3:36 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • True about early relationships leading to bigger pay offs later. Except for Salman it worked in reverse. 🙂 A lot of his really bad films from the 2000’s were done as favors to people (producers or directors) who had given him a chance in his early years. There were so many films where, as I was watching, I’d be scratching my head, thinking, “Why on earth did he sign this movie?” Eventually I learned to pay attention to all the names in the credits, and sure enough, there would be the clue.

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        • A little with Shahrukh too! Not as much, I think he isn’t as soft-hearted/generous as Salman. But he still had some real stinkers on his credits list. Like Baadshah, for Abbas-Mastan.

          On Wed, May 31, 2017 at 3:18 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Have you seen Army? Yet another film in which Shahrukh takes second place to an avenging woman, but Sridevi this time instead of Madhuri.

        On Tue, May 30, 2017 at 4:42 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • I’ll be getting into that tomorrow, it’s interesting, he had 3 roles like that in a row, the other two so small that I decided not to include them. At least in Army his character had an effect on the plot and a personality and stuff. It looks like there was this time when he was doing cameos while debating his next move, after all his post-DDLJ projects were finished.

            On Wed, May 31, 2017 at 3:14 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • I felt like in Army they were really trying to exploit his post DDLJ popularity. He had to basically repeat several dialogs from that film. 🙂 He probably took the role as it gave him a chance to act opposite Sridevi.

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  4. Shah Rukh sign other movie in 1994 – the terrible, terrible Yeh Lamhe Judaai Ke. This movie was never officialy finished. The worst part is that I have watched it, and it made me feel so deceived and robbed. Whoever had idea of resuscitating this movie should be sued for extortion.

    I really loved songs from Anjaam and that’s why I watched this movie. It’s odd, but I don’t regret watching it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s just such an odd movie! Someday I should really do a little movie marathon of SRK-as-stalker with this, Darr, and Deewana.

      On Tue, May 30, 2017 at 4:16 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Yeh Lamhe Judai Ke was never finished, as the producer ran out of money. Both SRK and the heroine (I’m blanking on who it was, was it Raveena?) went on to do other projects and progress in their careers. Yeas later, when SRK had become a big star, the producer tried to hold him to his original contract to finish the film, at the old remuneration, I think. At any rate there was some complications about the contract, and SRK refused to do any more work on it; same with the heroine. The producer then decided to take what footage he had from the original schedule (from about eight years previously), hired new unknown actors for new footage, cobbled together a really unwieldy storyline to merge the two sets of footage together, and released the film as “starring” SRK and the original heroine. They both publicly and strongly dissociated themselves from the film, telling people it was not their film and to not be fooled. However, a sufficient number of people did get fooled into going to this “SRK” film, and came out cursing the makers.

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  5. Hello Margaret,
    Enjoyable read! Some errors though – it’s Ramesh Sippy not Rohit Shetty of course. & it’s Divya Bharti not Divya Bhatia in Deewana & Dil Aashna Hai. Thanks to Sholay & Divya’s untimely demise these two really are etched in any Indian film lover’s minds. You must be really tired :D!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am so tired! 4 hours of sleep 3 nights in a row, my back is aching like never before, I think I might officially be too old to just shake off massive physical exertion. I wonder who Divya Bhatia is? That name sounds so familiar. Good chance it was someone I knew in college.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: Hindi Film 101: Shahrukh’s Filmography, Part 3! – dontcallitbollywood

  7. Pingback: Hindi Film 101: Shahrukh’s Filmography Continues! Where Do You Go When You Reach the Top? | dontcallitbollywood

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