Valentine’s Shahrukh Discussion Post: Rank SRK Romances!

I feel like I should throw a bone to my SRK readers. Plus, this is just a fun discussion topic!

You ready for a challenge? I’m gonna limit this to straight romances, so no Don or Raees type movies, and also no Dear Zindagi or Chamatkar stuff where it is about more than a romance. Not even One 2 Ka 4 or Koyla, where he falls in love but it is part of a whole bigger thing. Just the ones where the entire plot is a couple falling in love.

With those restrictions, here is the entire list in chronological order:

Deewana

Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman

Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa

Zamaana Deewana

Guddu

Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge

English Babu Desi Mem

Chaahat

Yes Boss

Pardes

Dil To Pagal Hai

Dil Se…

Kuch Kuch Hota Hai

Mohabattein

Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham

Hum Tumhare Hain Sanam

Devdas

Chalte Chalte

Kal Ho Na Ho

Veer-Zaara

Paheli

Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna

Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi

Jab Tak Hain Jaan

Chennai Express

Dilwale

Jab Harry Met Sejal

Zero

Now, you ready for my personal rankings of each romance as a romance?

Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge

Obviously. It’s my favorite movie, but also just a great romance.

Kuch Kuch Hota Hai

Another classic romance, a little less deep than DDLJ, but not by much.

Jab Harry Met Sejal

I think the most purely focused on the love story between hero and heroine of any of SRK’s movies.

Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi

So sweet, so happy!

Kal Ho Na Ho

I debated including this, since it’s kind of a triangular romance. But it is all about love, so I’m leaving it in.

Pardes

It wasn’t until my recent rewatch that I really came to appreciate this film, the Mahima-Shahrukh relationship isn’t really like anything he’s done anywhere else.

Yes Boss

Again, it took the recent rewatch to appreciate this. There’s a lot of pain there, and a message of “love heals” that is about love healing social injustice too.

Zamaana Deewana

This one is fun and funny and also SEXY. Shahrukh and Raveena have amazing chemistry, I’m sad they didn’t work together again.

Chalte Chalte

Great chemistry, great story, it would be higher on the list except for my personal preference for a little more kind of rawness in the romance than here.

Chennai Express

This looks like an action-comedy at first glance, but really it is all about the love story slowly growing between fight scenes.

Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman

If only the plot didn’t get totally strange in the last third this would be right at the top of the list!

Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham

What we get of SRKajol is great, but there isn’t enough of it! And so K3G drops down my list.

Kabhi Alveda Na Kehna

SRK is just a little too bitter and angsty and miserable in this film for it to be my ideal romance.

Kabhi Haa Kabhi Naa

I love everything about this movie, the only reason it is so low is because the love story is unrequited.

Paheli

Ghost love! Purest love. But, they punted the ending and it makes no sense and turns me against the rest of the film.

Dilwale

Like K3G, what we get of SRKajol is great, but there isn’t enough of it.

Deewana

SRK’s first released movie! He’s only in the second half, but that second half is perfect romance.

Dil To Pagal Hai

I know other people like this, I find it kind of slow and dull and the SRK-Madhuri chemistry just doesn’t work right for me. But it’s still a well-made movie with great songs and performances, so it gets to be in the middle of the list.

Chaahat

This move is just so delightfully over the top, flipping the gender switch on the usual love versus money questions and giving Shahrukh a different kind of romantic dilemma to play out. If only it weren’t so very odd in many other ways.

Veer-Zaara

The old age make-up. And the really kind of pointlessly tragic story. Enough to drop it to the bottom of the list.

Mohabettain

There’s hardly any Shahrukh romance in this! Just one 5 minute flashback and a bunch of ghost dancing.

Hum Tumhare Hain Sanam

Way too overwrought for me, and I can really feel the production delays in the way the actors struggle to keep a grasp on their characters scene by scene.

English Babu Desi Mem

I love one song, but overall it just feels like Shahrukh doesn’t even like his heroine, and that is not romantic.

Jab Tak Hain Jaan

He ends up with the wrong girl according to all rules of narrative and actor chemistry, ruins the film for me.

Guddu

This is just a stupid stupid movie, that’s all.

Zero

I feel like the romance gets lost somewhere along the way, even though ultimately this is a romance movie.

Dil Se

A brilliant movie, but far too sad for my taste to be a real romance (even though the love story is central).

Devdas

I just really really REALLY hate Devdas.

Now, discuss! Give your own rankings (top ten or top 5 is okay, you don’t have to do the whole list), disagree with mine, argue for why One 2 Ka 4 should have been included or Zero shouldn’t, whatever!

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27 thoughts on “Valentine’s Shahrukh Discussion Post: Rank SRK Romances!

  1. Perfect! I’m about to go into a boring staff meeting. I can spend my time ranking this list instead. 🙂

    I kind of think if One 2 Ka 4 isn’t on the list, then Dil Se shouldn’t be either, because both are straight romances but in the context of wider conflicts and social issues (obviously Dil Se a bit more seriously than O2K4). But, consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds, so I’m fine just ranking the list that’s here.

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    • No no, let’s discuss in detail! My thinking is, the driving force of the One 2 Ka 4 plot, the starting point, is the surprise guardianship of the kids. Which is what brings Juhi into SRK’s life and then it goes on from there. But on the other hand, in Dil Se, it is the romance that is the driving force, Shahrukh’s love is what causes all the plot dominoes to fall. Both films have a similar percentage of love story versus other story, but in One 2 Ka 4 the love story is the secondary part of the narrative while in Dil Se it is primary.

      Now here’s the one I really agonized over, Koyla!!!! It starts with Shahrukh’s childhood flashback and Amrish Puri’s evil, and ends with it too, but the whole rest of the movie is driven by the SRK-Madhuri love story with the Amrish-SRK backstory coming second. So where does that land? If we just carved off the first 15 minutes and the last 15 minutes, it would be a total romance, but is that allowed?

      On Wed, Feb 13, 2019 at 11:57 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • I think, JHMS is the sole pure romance story because it isn’t embedded in another story…it’s solely about the woman and the man…no surrounding plot.
        Look at all the other movies…romance may be the driving force but the romance almost always isn’t the sole plot.
        Basically in every ShahRukh movie there is romance, even in Don (a weird one but yes, there are feelings of love and a kind of addiction to the other).
        I miss Duplicate and Baadshah and I would put Koyla, too. But I would not title all those movies as romance but as different takes on romantic love.

        Actually, I won’t even put the romantic in the title but simply: SRK’s movies and the different takes on love. Because, for me, he isn’t the King of Romance but someone who enacts Love.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I can’t remember if we have talked about this before or not, but I think that is what makes Dear Zindagi work so well. Shahrukh truly comes across as someone who loves women, not necessarily always romantically. Whether it is with Jaya as his mother in K3G or Alia as his patient in Dear Zindagi, we can believe he is driven by love of them.

          On Wed, Feb 13, 2019 at 2:42 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  2. Ok, I think both should be allowed in. Because Juhi is definitely after Shah Rukh in O2K4 from the get go, while Jackie is still around, and Madhuri likes the cut of his jib too, even having a whole fantasy song with him, before she is tricked into marrying Amrish. Soooooo it’s still love driving the plots, but love from the women’s side first. What do you think?

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    • Ooo, interesting! So we could also argue that my patriarchal blinders are allowing in Dil Se but not the other too. Because in Dil Se, SRK is all about love the whole time but Manisha has other stuff going on. In Koyla and One 2 Ka 4, it is the same situation but with the genders reversed.

      On Wed, Feb 13, 2019 at 1:12 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  3. I’m adding One 2 Ka 4, Koyla, and Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani to the list. I’m leaving off Guddu and Zamaana Deewana because I haven’t seen them.

    ESSENTIALS–I’d take these to the desert island. MNIK would be here too–but the first half!
    Devdas
    Chalte Chalte
    Dil Se…
    Jab Harry Met Sejal
    Paheli
    Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman
    Yes Boss

    SECOND TIER–I love them, can watch them endlessly, but would leave them behind if I had to.
    Zero
    Chennai Express
    Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna
    Kal Ho Na Ho
    Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi
    Jab Tak Hain Jaan
    Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani
    One 2 Ka 4

    THIRD TIER–I like them but have to be in the right mood for them.
    Pardes
    Veer-Zaara
    Koyla
    Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham
    Hum Tumhare Hain Sanam
    Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa
    Deewana
    Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge

    MEH to ACTIVELY DISLIKE
    Dilwale
    Dil To Pagal Hai
    Mohabattein
    Kuch Kuch Hota Hai
    Chaahat
    English Babu Desi Mem

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    • So interesting! So it is definitely the deeper angstier films that are at the top of your list. Not obviously angsty like Kal Ho Na Ho, but the ones with some real subtle character work like Chalte Chalte. The ones where SRK feels like a full-fledged complex human, good and bad. And then Dilwale, Dil To Pagal Hai, Mohabbetain, where he is just boring perfect, that’s at the bottom.

      My list is different than yours, but in general I think I am lined up with you in that the complex characters and roles make for far better romances. I don’t need to see perfect Shahrukh on a mountain top mouthing romantic lines, I want to see him angry and frustrated sometimes, and sometimes just plain making mistakes.

      On Wed, Feb 13, 2019 at 2:13 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • I think so. Except in DTPH, KKHH, and EBDM I just find him irritating. Not angry and bitter in a good way like in KANK, but smug and selfish.

        I was thinking that FAN could be considered a love story, as you said in your reviews. If we included it in the list it would be third tier because it’s too sad for me to want to watch often.

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        • I know what you mean. I think of it as his NRI Hero roles. Which are the ones everyone makes fun of him for now, but really it was limited to just a few movies in the 90s. Most of his hero parts have some damage and pain at the heart of them, they aren’t just one-liner heroes strolling around making woman faint.

          On Wed, Feb 13, 2019 at 3:03 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          Liked by 1 person

  4. First – in my opinion Zero shouldn’t be on this list. It’s not a romance movie at all. I would say Anjaam has more love then Zero.

    This is my Top 5 :
    Paheli
    Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi
    Jab Harry Met Sejal
    Veer-Zaara
    Kal Ho Naa Ho

    Worst:
    Jab Tak Hain Jaan (and Zero if it would be a romance but it’s not)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ooo, your top 5 is all the almost or literally supernaturally good heroes. Ghost, Angel, Sacrificing Soldier, and so on. And all of them doing great services for the heroine’s happiness. Except for Harry. Who is definitely flawed. Why do you think you put him there?

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      • Good question! I think it’s because he made me feel something – his home nostalgia, the pain of losing Sejal (I still have goosebumbs when I see the scene when he calls Sejal’s name at the sea). and even if flawed on the outside, for me he was just like the other good heroes.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Shahrukh Hotness By Film ranking challenge, that’s a whole other post! I’ll have to think of a good occasion for it.

        On Wed, Feb 13, 2019 at 4:12 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • I anticipate hot debates based on past posts on similar topics. Some people have a strictly chronological feeling (hotter every year). Others (like me) have more of an up and down feeling depending on external factors like Beard. And then there are the people who believe in a reverse chronology (less hot every year as he ages), but they are WRONG. Just so so wrong.

            Liked by 1 person

  5. I appreciate how deep these debates are getting :). I’ll play. My ranking is only movies I’ve seen, and based purely on the love story – is the love story the movie tells a great one, and do the actors sell it, regardless of other plot or film flaws.

    – Jab Harry Met Sejal – I don’t know if I can argue rationally for this being a top pick, it’s just the one that gets to me the most. It’s the rawness, as you’ve said, the realness of the characters and their choices, and the way the tone dances the light dance of denial while they’re “pretending” but keeps dropping suddenly into darker confrontations that they can’t control. It’s the deciding to be together being a simple matter that carries a weight of consequence that you can feel without having to witness it in an epilogue.
    – Kuch Kuch Hota Hai – I like that SRK and Kajol start off as good friends who push and provoke each other; I can believe they each had other romantic entanglements that diverted them for years but didn’t diminish the connection they had with one another; choosing each other in the end even when it’s inconvenient and complicated is a great love story.
    – Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi – starts with love at first sight, a trope that bothers me, but the way his humble character slowly turns their sad acceptance of a marriage into a union of love and joy is delightful to watch.
    – Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham – kind of can’t stand the young romance, but this was one of the first movies I saw Kajol in and as manic as she is (and as puzzled as I was by why they were suddenly dancing around the pyramids) she sold me on the irresistible attraction; the price they pay for staying together and the fact that they ultimately build a happy household that can withstand being isolated or forcibly reintegrated into the family says it’s real love that can withstand time and trials.
    – Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge – similar irresistible attraction, but I find SRK’s character more irritating so it brings it down a notch; also a little less equal, he goes to greater lengths for her than she does for him; and shorter time span so we don’t know what it looks like after a decade.
    – Dilwale – I would cut all comic scenes and big chunks of Kriti and Varun out of this movie; left alone, the SRKajol romance is gangster Romeo & Juliet with a later in life sequel and a happy ending; agreed there could be more and the execution is trite in places, but solid concept and their chemistry can carry a lot.
    – Chaahat – another love at first sight, but he really has to work to get to know her and win her over, then defend his love against a fantastically manipulative romantic foe; ending is over the top like whoa but very romantic everyman hero fights for his modest life and partner against the evil rich people who would destroy them and steal his soul.
    – Zero – much like JTHJ, the love stories aim for epic but suffer from similar flaws of forced plot twists and spectacle getting in the way of essential character growth; even so, the early scenes between SRK and Anushka, the SRK character transformation while he’s with Kat, and the reunion scenes with Anushka from the end of his time at the space center for me have an emotional depth that keeps this love story toward the top.
    – Jab Tak Hai Jaan – see above, but lower ranked because Kat is so so much better in Zero, makes for a more balanced emotional triangle, and I found the final third of Zero more satisfying in all its craziness than JTHJ; in terms of love story, what JTHJ has going for it: the concept of the scrappy immigrant version of SRK walking away from everything to court death as a bomb defuser after his love rejects him is high tragic romance.
    – Chennai Express – as much as I like Deepika and SRK separately, none of their movies together work for me as romances; the love story here is nice enough, but the motivations are totally plot-driven and based on cardboard cutout characters – she is beautiful but dangerous, he is clueless but surprisingly strong (why he is that way we don’t know, it makes no sense based on his character development).
    – Chalte Chalte – love at first sight trope is again a no for me, plus the long stretch of marital bickering bothers me. And I think I’m not as much of a Rani fan as some of you. Points for realism and showing the unromantic parts of impractical romance, though.
    – Pardes – not one of my favorites, but the love story gets points for the slow build and how the characters come around to each other almost in spite of themselves.
    – Kal Ho Na Ho – I have a soft spot for this movie because it owns its outrageous soap opera heart; tragic ending but self-sacrificing, and quality friendship and good sense of humor from SRK.
    – Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa – sweet puppy love, fine as far as it goes; I kind of like that he doesn’t get the girl just because he wants her.
    – Dil Se – not sure it belongs on the list; Manisha Koirala is amazing in this movie, and at the same time I never believed her character was really in love with SRK, so that makes it very one-sided and not much of a love story from her side.
    – Paheli – this has any number of things I don’t like: ghosts falling in love with humans, love at first sight, impersonation, and total lack of agency for the woman in how the story ends; creeps me out. (The puppets and weird special effects also creep me out but I’m trying not to count them in this case.)

    Wow, that got super long! Ha!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Happy that it got “super long” 🙂

      I like every take on the movies you chose. Agree with DilSe…I also got the feeling that she may have fallen in love with him having had other experiences in her youth and another upbringing, and without a very clear goal…she was at war outside and inside.
      I second your opinion about the end of Paheli (“lack of agency for the woman”) … still I love the movie for the rest of the story. I like those kind of fanciful stories.
      Strangely, I had the same feeling about OSO, CE and HNY although they clearly loved each other in CE at the end. But in OSO’s second part, there is no love story between them and in HNY it’s not very elaborated.

      Like

    • Okay, ready for a similarly long reply point by point?

      -JHMS and the dark and light tone is so unique, and I think part of what made that film so hard for people to grasp. If you miss the darkness, it looks like the lightest silliest most plotless movie ever. But if you see it, it is an immediately different kind of romance.

      -Oh that ending! If only they had both made a little bit more of an effort, I would have liked it more. Sure, SRK came to her wedding and Kajol wouldn’t go down the stairs, but if Salman hadn’t made his move, they both would have just lived miserable lives. I wanted to see them aggressively reaching for happiness.

      -You know what makes the love at first sight not as bad? Even the hero doesn’t realize that’s what it is. He likes her right away, but he doesn’t acknowledge it to himself, just keeps going along on his little life and doing what seems right.

      -YES! This, so much. The young romance is the love at first sight quick-quick-quick, but then we check in with them 10 years later, and they are joking and sexy and fight sometimes and also have real deep conversations like partners, in a way you don’t usually get to see between couples in movies.

      -I desperately want a DDLJ sequel for this reason. The characters are both so young, I want to see what they grew into together.

      -Their chemistry is so good in this, it just gets stronger with age.

      -I also like that for once it is the woman who is more successful and urban and wealthier, not just evil Ramya but also good Pooja.

      -If Zero had stayed straight romance, I might agree, but the way the plot zigs and zags just ruins it for me

      -Why do you remind me of the final third of JTHJ???? Everything up to then isn’t great but is fine, and then that last third just goes completely of the rails

      -I just figure SRK’s character spent a lot of time at the gym because he didn’t have anything else to do

      -Chalte Chalte is funny, because it does love at first sight, and then backs up and has them spend that one great day together. If they had just adjusted slightly, it could have been “love after one great day together” instead, come up with another reason for her to have to go on a day long truck trip with him.

      -My new theory with Pardes is just to skip to the interval, the love story and the characters and everything is stronger once it goes overseas.

      -It has surprisingly little real romantic interaction between SRK and Preity, now that I think about it. The Saif-Preity bond gets far more time and comes out feeling stronger

      -Yeah, I hardly even think of this as a romance, it’s more a coming of age story with romance as the catalyst

      -Same as above, kind of one-sided

      -Check out the “rank hottest SRK” list! I agree with you about Paheli

      Like

      • OK, you win, I can’t keep the point by point going :). Just a few:

        – RNBDJ he’s struck by her but doesn’t believe she could ever be his, and in fact continues to believe this through the first half of the movie even after they’re married. His humility is so endearing, it’s why you root for Suri to be happy in the end.

        – JTHJ that last third is such a wreck! Every time I think of it I shake my head. Such a nice movie they had, just…why?

        – Dil Se this probably isn’t a very original thought, but they’re kind of in different movies. He is in a romance where love conquers all, and she is in a violent rebellion movie. The stories meet in the ending.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Now that I think about it, RNBDJ is the antithesis of how these plots usually go. Usually it is “I love her, and I have the right to expect she will eventually love me”. In this film, it is “I love her, and I have no expectation she will ever feel the same way back to me, even though we are already married, she can feel whatever she wants to feel”.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Exactly. It’s why I’m so fond of it. He just wants her to be happy again, and he doesn’t assume that he’s the thing that will make her happy.

            Liked by 1 person

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