Happy 28 Days to SRK’s Birthday! 28 Romances, Part 3

I am finding this fascinating, looking at the slow progression of the Shahrukh Khan romance over the years.  Not every romance, but almost all, the ones I find interesting to talk about. (part 1 here, part 2 here)

Dil Se…

A fascinating film in many ways, but especially as a romance, a Shahrukh Khan romance.  It’s all the madness and passion of his Darr hero, but with the confidence of his late 90s persona.  He would be dangerous, except that all of the madness and power is concentrated on one person, and he is able to see through to what that one person really needs and wants.

In fact, this film is a throwback to even before Darr, to Deewana.  When he forced his way into Divya’s life, just because he loved her and knew she was unhappy.  He is at cross-purposes with the heroine but, in a larger sense, is working for her.


Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani

Post Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Shahrukh’s identity has matured.  No longer the struggling young man, he is now an adult.  His identity in this film comes less from his family background (although that is still there) and more from his professional life, his ambitions, his career connections.

Like Zamaana-Deewana, the romance takes place against the background of a shared goal.  They fight, but they both believe in the same thing and are working towards it.  And, secondary to that, they suddenly fall in love.



A film that struggles when it loses the romance.  Shahrukh attempts to play a massive historical figure, one with motivations and powers and ambitions  And yet he really only comes alive when he is in love.

It’s not a fault of Shahrukh exactly, or the script, but rather the two combined.  The point is supposed to be the romance, in a way, that his falling in love with Kareena changed him, and losing her changed him even more.  But that is just the impetus for the change, not the total point.  Only Shahrukh’s performance was so much stronger and more confident in the romance sections that those areas ended up over-shadowing the rest.


Hum Tumhare Hain Sanam

Another marriage romance.  The reverse of Koyla, in which the “wife” forced the husband to acknowledge her, in this one Shahrukh is the spouse fully in love who is chasing his wife.  And it’s also a lot darker.

Koyla was dark, there was violence and action and so on.  But this is a different kind of darkness, a bitterness, the angry ugly side of love.  This is Shahrukh’s Darr hero if he had gotten the girl, married her, and grown up a little.  But the brokenness inside, the need for her, that is still there.  This is not the traditional film husband who is wise and good and all knowing and all powerful.  This is a weak scared husband who is at the mercy of his wife and desperately trying to hide it.


Kal Ho Na Ho

Coming after Devdas, Chalte Chalte, as well as HTHS, this is Shahrukh the lover who has finally overcome all his insecurities. He has let go of his desires, all his desires.  He has accepted himself, his weaknesses and his strengths, and that has become his strength.

Back in Ram-Jaane days, he was willing to give up the girl to the better man because he thought the other man was better.  The same urge that was twisted in Yes Boss until he overcame it.  But now there is a new era.  He knows who and what he is and exactly what he is worth.  He is giving up the heroine because he is wiser than her and knows he is wiser than her.  They are in love, but he knows that there are different kinds of love, and what they share is not enough for her, she is not strong enough to go through what is happening to him, with him.



The first true mature romance.  A romance which doesn’t need to be spoken, because they are both adult people who know what is happening.  There is no drama, there are no ultimatums.  They are in love, but love is not everything.

This is Shahrukh from Kal Ho Na Ho with no tragedy overshadowing him, and with a partner who is at his same level.  Two people with complicated lives and emotions, who are wise enough to be able to communicate all of that simply.  He started out with heroines who were his equal, because his extreme youth matched theirs.  And now he has come full circle, another heroine that is his equal, an equal in maturity and intelligence and confidence.


Kabhi Alveda Na Kehna

This is an attempt to fully explore that mature Shahrukh.  The wild young man with the broken inside, all grown up to a bitter old man with a broken inside.  Who finds a partner to match him, broken in her own way, and stronger for the break.

The anger, the bitterness, the scary intensity, it’s a sign of intimacy here.  He reveals it fully only to Rani because he knows she can handle it somehow, can handle it in a way no one else in his life can.  Can see the lightness inside.  Just as he can see the darkness hidden by her calm light.




So, what is happening here?  There’s an attempt to find a new balance, that sweetness and brokenness together but in a mature man.  And this is where we begin to find the brilliant performances that are seriously disturbing.  He is not holding back any more, or perhaps it is that his inner core is slowly being revealed.  Every one of these films contains moments that are not just “naughty” but disturbing.  Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani, a reporter so dedicated to a story that he cares about nothing else.  Kal Ho Na Ho, a dying man who plays puppeteer to his friends in order to create the ending he wants against their wishes.

Purely in terms of romance, the best two of this era are Swades and Kabhi Alveda Na Kehna.  The films in which his heroine has a darkness and depth to her that matches his own.  He doesn’t need a pure innocent girl to save him, he needs a strong woman to match him.

19 thoughts on “Happy 28 Days to SRK’s Birthday! 28 Romances, Part 3

    • I think the most complex romance is the latest one. In this case Jab Harry Met Sejal, but also meaning that every romance he does adds on a layer of complexity. So before JHMS, I would have said Chennai Express (the last true romance he was in)


      • Ha! He just repeated it (in the TED talk India launch):
        “I’m not only the lover people say, I’m the love myself. I truly believe in the power of love.”

        Which shade of romantic love he didn’t yet explore? What do you think? (the heterosexual kind)

        Liked by 1 person

        • He hasn’t really done elderly/mature love yet. I’d love to see him play a character like in Kuch Kuch, a single dad and a widower, only several years down the line. Old enough that he is happy just living with his memories, and then is surprised to find that his heart can still wake up.

          On Thu, Oct 5, 2017 at 3:20 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:


          Liked by 1 person

  1. Swades was his most understated romance.plus he has fabulous chemistry with Gayathri Joshi, who stood her own. The Dhoti scene from Swades with the way it was shot and ARR’s superb BGM elevated that scene so much. Personally I never did care for his pairing with Rani or Deepika.
    You are bang on about the most complex romance being JHMS. So many layers and such a matured, realistic and unique take on romance, not to mention superlative performances…sigh, I don’t think I will get over this film anytime soon, nor go I want to.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s an awkward clumsy movie, but there are some really interesting things in it.

      On Thu, Oct 5, 2017 at 2:59 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:



      • You’ll hate this but…I thought his wife was HORRIBLE in that movie. She was completely attuned to everyone’s needs but his & dedicated to fulfilling everyone’s needs but his. She always acted so indifferent & condescending to him. It’s no wonder he was so insecure! Plus she looked old enough to be his mother!

        And don’t even get me started on Salmon’s performance! Who told that guy he should be an actor!!!!


        • I think she knows she’s been horrible, that’s part of the reason she’s ready to do herself in at the end of the movie. But more than either of them being horrible, I just feel like they’re not believably compatible in any way–despite good chemistry during a couple of songs. Not one of his great romances, or Madhuri’s for that matter. I feel like Salman did the best he could with the role he was given–Captain Oblivious.


  2. This is long, but I have feelings about several of these movies. 🙂 Hope you don’t mind.

    I see what you mean about the darkness and broken-ness in these, but this collection of romances doesn’t really feel so much like any sort of pattern to me as the ones in your previous “28 romances” posts. It’s more like Shah Rukh now had more power to pick roles, and was trying out some different things.

    Dil Se and Devdas are my two problematic faves from Shah Rukh’s romances. The comparison between his character in Dil Se and Darr is apt. Except in Dil Se he has a loving supportive family, an amazing boss and co-workers, and a really lovely girl who is interested in him. But he chooses, over and over, this obsessive love with an idea of a person–he doesn’t know Manisha’s character at all, even after their journey together she’s mostly a mystery to him. I think he is as broken as Manisha’s character, and it is endlessly moving to me that they save each other. In a weird way him dying at the end is the only thing that justifies his stalker-y behavior earlier in the movie, to me.

    I just love KANK as a story of how messed up people also can fall in love with each other, and can be good for each other. I would really enjoy hanging out with Dev in real life, except I’d give him hell for being such a lousy dad (and he’s becoming a better dad toward the end of KANK). Ironic since I’ve just been saying how much I dislike Raj in DDLJ in another thread. But the difference here is that Dev is a jerk and the movie makes no bones about it. And at least he’s a witty jerk.

    Hum Tumhare Hain Sanam is middle of the road Shah Rukh romance for me. He and Madhuri’s chemistry and the “talking to the horse while drunk” scene are great, but I think these two characters shouldn’t be married.

    Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani falls into those movies I can’t separate from Shah Rukh the person. It’s a story that he and his friends chose to tell, and because I love he and Juhi together so much, and Aziz Mirzi’s homey romantic touches as a director, I have no objectivity. I’ve not watched it with anyone because it is so uneven in tone–light and funny sometimes and deadly serious/sad in others. And this song never fails to make me happy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vcbWTEjUuyk


  3. Pingback: Happy 28 Days to SRK’s Birthday! 28 Romances, Part 3 — dontcallitbollywood – Business Startup-Bay Area

  4. I believe SRK is that one Bollywood star who has embraced his feminine side more than anyone of his peers. It is not easy to sell characters like these, being the hero and not completely heroic (or say lacking the definitive heroic qualities Amitabh or Salman had) and I must say that SRK excelled at that. But I guess that also ended up being a bane, with so many such films back to back. Almost like an image trap.

    BTW, Swades is my favorite too. That romance is an actual fantasy, not the running around trees type. To be honest, I tried to find one that way. I failed, but yes I made so many good friends among the girls I met. Well, Gayathri Joshi wasn’t seen in another film till date. Curious to know why, given that she is a very confident and assertive performer.


  5. Pingback: Happy Birthday to Shahrukh!!!!! 31 Times Over | dontcallitbollywood

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