Happy 15 Days to Shahrukh’s Birthday!!!! 15 Best Characters He Has Played

Just to be clear, this is not best performances.  “Performances” would mean he brought something extra to the role.  Which of course he did, but here I want to focus on characters, characters as written in the script, who would have been interesting no matter who played them.

15. Kabir Khan: A great idea for a character no matter who played him.  A brilliant athlete who was exiled from doing what he loved, and came back seemingly emotionless and perfect, burned to a strong unbreakable center by adversity.  Only to reveal in the last few moments that his heart was always there, that he has been waiting for victory, both the big public victory and the small private one, all these years.

14. Surinder Sahni: Not Raj.  Raj is superficial, silly, a joke.  It is Surinder who is the real hero, the quiet man who takes in a bereaved woman and expects nothing from her, who somehow understand what she needs without talking to her, and who is strong enough in his own heart to know that he will not accept her love for a fantasy man, but only for who he really is.

13. Dev Saran: A very different character.  Angry, bitter, straight up unlikable.  This is someone you would not want to talk to in real life, might not trust to be your friend in real life.  But that’s what makes this love story so unusual, someone who doesn’t exactly “deserve” love, but finds it anyway, because sometimes love just happens.

12. Asoka: Well, this is just a great character!  One of the most fascinating figures in world history, a conqueror who fought his way to the throne by killing his own family, then continued to fight to conquer all his surrounding territory, until a sudden change of heart made him realize the brutality and pointlessness of war.  I can see why Shahrukh wanted to play him, and I hope that someone else take sup the challenge and tries again, because I don’t think everything that can be said about this person has yet been said.

Image result for asoka shahrukh

11. Sunil (Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa)  This is justifiably one of the roles that Shahrukh is proudest of.  A hero who isn’t a hero.  A protagonist, rather than a hero.  Someone who is kind of bad, and kind of boring at the same time.  A small person leading a small life.  And yet we are drawn into him, the script makes us care and sympathize and understand.

10. Rahul (Darr) A boy stuck in a man’s body, devoted to his mother without acknowledging she is dead, in love with love but unable to express it, living a fantasy life trapped in his room until eventually he goes outside and tries to make that fantasy real.  A fascinating character!  And one that was turned down by all the big names, before someone was willing to take a risk on this very difficult script.

9. Harry: All of his recent films made their way to this list.  That is, all his post-Dilwale films.  I think it is fair to say that Shahrukh is now looking at the character and the script more than the profitability of a movie.  And Harry is a fascinating character.  Lonely, charming, tormented, happy, related to all the NRI heroes Shahrukh has played for so long, but also different from them.  Someone with a hidden past and an unknown future, but an emotional life so clearly drawn in the script that we feel we know him.

8. Dr. Jahengir Khan: Another unknown-but-known character.  His past is unknown, and so is his future.  But we know right now that he is a caring sensitive intelligent experienced person.  That he has his own sorrows and his own ways of dealing with them.  But that they don’t stop him from caring about someone else.

7. Raees: If only the film as a whole had lived up to this central character!  A brutal gangster, who takes no real pleasure in violence, just sees it as another part of his job.  Who lives and dies for his neighborhood, not in a romantic dramatic way, but in a gritty day to day way.  Who is short, who wears glasses and cooks with his wife.  This is a different kind of gangster that, unfortunately, ended up trapped in what turned out to be the same old kind of gangster film.

6. Om Kapoor: One of the all time great comic characters!  The self-involvement, the shallowness, the stupidity!  The kind of guy who would with think a Disco style sad love song is a brilliant idea!

5. Raj Malhotra: DDLJ is SO good!  And a lot of it is because of what an amazing character Raj Malhotra is.  So amazing, that filmmakers spent the next few years trying to create pale imitations of him.  He’s cocky and funny and a little mean.  But he’s also sensitive and smart and will do anything for the ones he loves.

4. Rahul Joshi: Yes Boss is a movie that is a little too shallow to be really good, but a little too deep to be completely written off.  And that is mostly because of Rahul Joshi.  Shamelessly ambitious, and yet strangely innocent.  In love, but afraid to admit it.  Completely amoral, until suddenly he isn’t.

3. Arjun Sagar: Pardes has A LOT going on.  And unfortunately, Arjun’s story kind of gets lost in the mix.  But his character is really the most fascinating! An orphan from India brought to the west, who never feels like he really belongs anywhere, most of all within his adopted family.  Who carries with him so much guilt and obligation, he isn’t even willing to rescue the woman he loves until the last minute.  Who stands on the outside and tries to make everyone else’s life better, and resists being brought into the story.

2. Gaurav Chadana: Fascinating character!  Just fascinating.  Somehow both humble and prideful at the same time.  Both entitled and generous.  He comes off as harmless, simple, the one who is put upon not the put upon-er.  And then, somehow, by the end of the film, all those layers have been peeled off and you realize that he will always convince himself he is the victim in every situation.

Image result for fan gaurav

1.1. Aryan Khanna: This one is kind of fascinating, because it is Shahrukh.  I mean, he’s playing himself.  But not a simplified version of himself, like in Om Shanti Om or Billu, but a character who tries to contain all the complications and depth of Shahrukh Khan, the real person.  A movie star with a lot of charm and love.  But with a lot of madness and pride too.  And, underneath that, a human need to protect his family, and a human sense of sadness about how little family he has (that moment at the end, when he tells Gaurav to go home to his parents, that’s brilliant and heartbreaking).

Image result for fan aryan khanna

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27 thoughts on “Happy 15 Days to Shahrukh’s Birthday!!!! 15 Best Characters He Has Played

  1. I totally agree. And your ranking of the recent films at the top is why, no matter what his loved-crazed fans want, I hope that he lets go of the roles that are primarily romantic fantasies for those fans, and looks more and more to roles with depth of character that really let Shah Rukh Khan the actor free to grow. The romance was the problem with Raees, for me. Marlon Brando didn’t need a love interest in The Godfather for his character to be compelling, and Raees (the character needed a wife and a family, but not a full-blown romance).

    His love-crazed fans have 25 years of fantasy lover performance to enjoy, and Jab Harry Met Sejal capped them all. Are we ready to let him go?

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    • You are making me look at Raees in a whole new light! I didn’t like the romance either, but I was looking at it as not enough. The character wasn’t built out enough to make an impact in the way she could have. But you are right, much simpler to just remove her entirely. Have you seen Nayakan yet? Great rise and fall of a gangster film, the romance is handled in about 4 really sweet scenes, and then left somewhat behind. They get married and life moves on. And you are absolutely right, Raees should have been about the rise and fall of a gangster. Heck, you could have had Mahira be introduced and their entire romance happen in that one kite song, and then just show her in the background from then on. Or the way his wife was handled in Fan, appropriately part of the story as his wife, but not central to it in any way.

      On Wed, Oct 18, 2017 at 10:35 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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    • Interesting thoughts about Raees. I think I qualify as a love-crazed fan, but I don’t need romance in every Shah Rukh film. Especially if, as you say, it allows him to explore different kinds of characters, acting with different co-actors and ensembles, directed by different film makers.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Very happy to see Surinder, Rahul (Darr), Arjun (Pardes), and Rahul (Yes Boss) on the list. I might add Raj Mathur (Chalte Chalte) and Ram Jaane to the list. Raj because the character is so full of contrasts and is tough to play convincingly; and Ram Jaane because I’m a sucker for characters who raise themselves, do their best to take care of and protect their loved ones, but never really learn to love or be loved. Angst!

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    • Raj from Chalte Chalte is a good one. A character that seems simple, just another romantic lead, but had to imply a lot more in order for the plot to be anything more than soap opera. He isn’t just a husband who randomly gets angry at his wife, he is a self-made man who has found his own life and friends and family in the city, but whose identity is tangled up with the sense that he can take care of himself and those who are dependent on him, and is threatened by his wife who casually just assumes things will work out.

      On Wed, Oct 18, 2017 at 11:28 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Yes. I find it compelling that Raj is stubbornly proud about accepting help from “outsiders”, but not from his close friends or his wife. He freely tells her his troubles, cries while she comforts him, and gladly accepts “her” money. Also that he follows her to Greece but not aggressively, even apologetically. He wins her by being who he is and caring for her happiness more than his own. Yet–he’s also an angry and impulsive jerk. Let’s hope the marriage counseling helps. 🙂

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        • Exactly. There is this line that it is not a macho thing exactly, or false pride, he is capable of appearing weak and asking for help. But money is something different for him. And Rani has never seen money in that way, because she has never felt the lack of money. It’s a very real conflict between a couple where one was raised rich and one was raised poor, very different from the usual “her father is sending goons after us!” kind of conflict.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Very important post for me as the characters are so often in relation to ShahRukh that there are some of those you mentioned I don’t see detached from his persona and others where I feel thay could have played by others and he just tried to give them a ‘personal stamp’ to make them his. I have to ponder about with mor time…so I may come back later…much later…

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  4. I’m going to stick up for Raj in RNBDJ. 🙂 I think there is a lot more to him than superficial and silly. Sure, it’s hard to get cred when you are a fictitious character within a fictitious story but I think he has a depth which moves the story along and tells us a lot about Suri.
    Suri has lived life as an observer, seems to have little experience outside his job and his cosy house and none whatsoever with women. Raj is the character he creates, giving him the attributes that he thinks women want, searching for clues from wherever he can; the movies, advice from Bobbi, even asking Taani herself (love the scene where he’s sitting in the dressing room talking to her).
    Each one of these is a failure – first the obnoxious flirt, a brief stint as a macho man (with Bobbi of all people giving him lessons), then the over-the-top lover who plunges the city into darkness to declare his love. He even appears to be stalking Taani, knowing where she lives, where her husband works, etc.
    Of course all of these are Suri projecting different versions of what he thinks a man should be, so although each Raj avatar may be one-dimensional they collectively have a life of their own by being versions of Suri’s interpretation of the world.
    Suri tries yet another version in his own persona, the fearless achiever who can take his wife on holidays by fighting the sumo wrestler, but again he simply alienates Taani.
    Finally Raj becomes a version of Suri himself, sensitive, caring, decisive, when he agrees to rescue Taani from the life she hates. This is the version she throws herself at, even if she renegs later.
    I think the person Taani eventually ends up with is Suri with a generous dash of Raj. Even in the closing credits Suri is loosening up, the clothes have changed, the moustache will obviously go, he has learned the ability to make her laugh and to show his love.
    Whether Raj can be treated as a character in his own right might be up for debate. However I see him as separate from Suri, not quite an alterego, but Suri experimenting with life and love, removed from his real self, the man he never was becasue he didn’t quite know what he was supposed to be.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fascinating! So, Raj is not Suri, but is also not-not Suri, kind of a strange projection of his inner desires.

      On Thu, Oct 19, 2017 at 5:36 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  5. Suri-as-Raj is probably my favorite comic role. I can see how hard it was to create him, which makes him a fantastic challenge for any actor. He is Suri projecting what he thinks “a woman” will like — which changes as he actually gets to know Taani — but Suri can never be so visible in Raj that Taani will recognize him. If there is a lack, it is in Taani as a character. Beyond the “I see god in you” thing, we aren’t given enough insight into her evolution. 95% of her realization seems to happen during the final dance, which is dramatic, but not satisfying for me.

    I would love to see a similar list of female characters. (Again, characters, not performances.) Consider that my Monday question; I will try to remember and repost.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. RNBDJ is one of my favorite movies of SRK’s. It didn’t start out that way – I didn’t like the look of Suri at first and loved Raj’s look. The more I have watched it, the more I have come to love Suri! It’s like when you go on vacation (where no one knows you or you dress up in costume for Halloween and are unrecognizable), you are free to do and say things you wouldn’t do or say in real life. But, having said that, Raj couldn’t have done or said things that Suri wouldn’t have felt as Suri. Yes, I believe that Raj was an uninhibited Suri. Of course, he was trying to break through Taani’s grief and unhappiness, but he was always Suri down deep. It was to Taani’s credit (just like Sejal in JHMS) that she was finally able to see and share Suri’s love for who he was.

    Liked by 1 person

    • One of my favorite touches is during the big song visiting all the temples, when “Raj” drops into his fantasy moments, he sees himself as “Suri”. That was always his true self, the person he felt like on the inside, no matter how he looked on the outside.

      On Thu, Oct 19, 2017 at 8:42 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  7. Pingback: Happy 14 Days to Shahrukh’s Birthday! 14 Best Performances | dontcallitbollywood

  8. I love RabNeBanaDiJodi for the power it gives to the sleeping forces in ourselves. it’s an immensely touching movie…setting free the power of emotions shy people don’t dare to show (ShahRukh himself needs a lot of ‘crutches’ to externalise the richness in himself). The most important scene – for me – was the monologue Raj had with Suri (the …and Suri is right, he has to know about Taani’s preference to know which person he will have to be to make her happy. And his dear friend is right to state that Suri and Raj, both are the same. I never ever did distinguish between Suri and Raj, they had always been an expression of the same person because I knew it. But for Taani it had to be two different persons because she had shut herself against the loving person Suri was (understandably).
    I think, I cannot – in no way – separate ShahRukh from the Suri/Raj character because there is too much ShahRukh in Suri…and I feel (no, I know) that Aditya could not have created that character for anybody else than ShahRukh.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I did a paper on Shahrukh’s star persona in grad school, primarily using RNBDJ as an example. Because Shahrukh said in interviews around it, that is exactly what they wanted to get at, the shallowness of his star persona versus the real person. Suri is the “real” Shahrukh, and Raj is the Shahrukh he plays on screen. And only Aditya Chopra, who helped create “Raj” to begin with, could fully understand how to show the Suri underneath.

      On Thu, Oct 19, 2017 at 11:47 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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        • Nah, it was just for a class. Hopefully I still have it in my records somewhere, I am terrible about keeping track of that stuff.

          On Thu, Oct 19, 2017 at 12:28 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • I am curious about the paper, too 🙂
            “Raj is the Shahrukh he plays on screen”…I would even extend by writing ‘Raj is the ShahRukh he plays in front of the public eye’ (which mostly is in front of cameras roling or cliquing)

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          • Excellent point. You can even see it in some interviews, the moment he flips in and out of the Raj persona. He will give a real serious answer about something, and then immediately go back to being charming and jokey and superficial.

            On Thu, Oct 19, 2017 at 1:04 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  9. Pingback: Monday Morning Questions Post: Let’s All Rank SRK! | dontcallitbollywood

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

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