Happy Birthday SRK – My Favorite Shahrukh Khan Movies

unnamedShahrukh Khan was my entree into Indian Cinema.  And it’s all because of Netflix.  Netflix streaming’s algorithm recommended Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge to me because I love romantic movies.  Then I watched Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi and I was a goner.  I think my story is similar to many other non-Desi fans of Indian Cinema — Shahrukh Khan is our gateway to this wonderful world of film.  And the internet and Netflix makes it so easy now to really dive into an obsession.

How big a fan of Shahrukh Khan am I?  This is my phone’s lock screen background:

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I’ve seen 50 of Shahrukh Khan’s 70 plus movies.  Picking my favorite Shahrukh Khan films after the top two is like picking my favorite children.  SRK brings something special even in the worst of films.

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The only Shahrukh Khan film I really can’t stand and won’t watch again is King Uncle, and really that’s a Jackie Shroff Annie remake and SRK is barely in it.

But enough of the worst, on to my favorite Shahrukh Khan films:

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10.  Swades

My love of this movie about an NRI who returns home to India is particularly for this song sequence.  In Yeh Tara Woh Tara, when the projector won’t work in the village, SRK leads the children in a song about the stars.  And we get that classic arms outstretched pose projected on the sheet used for the screen.  Just a magical moment of a song.

 

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9.  Chak De India

I love that SRK did this film about a girl’s field hockey team.  Just a masterful performance and a great message.  He’s let his female co-stars have top billing in his films, and here he lets a whole team of them take center stage.

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8. Don

I recently watched the original Don with Amitabh Bachchan, and I am now even more impressed with how Farhan Akhtar kept the spirit of the original, while updating it and giving it a new twist.  Plus he has the cool seventies music from the original updated and incorporated in this fantastic film.  I love Shahrukh Khan in double roles, just love seeing him create two different personas in the same film, from Baazigar to Fan.  This is one of the best, and so delicious to see him in a dark sexy villain role.

7.  Kuch Kuch Hota Hai

Kuch Kuch Hota Hai can be silly, but Karan Johar can just get me right in the gut with his love story triangles (or quadrangles).  This gazebo scene is just so sexy.  That SRKajol magic!  We get SRK/Rani plus a sweet Salman Khan as a bonus.

6. Om Shanti Ohm

I love Farah Khan and her collaborations with Shahrukh.  Main Hoon Na barely missed the cut for this list, but I have to give it up to OSO.  Farah has given us an homage to classic Bollywood film, launched the debut of Deepika Pudakone, and the song sequences are just amazing.  Farah was a choreographer first, and the great music is paramount in this film.  I will love her forever for making SRK the item guy in the sexy Dard-e-Disco.  We won’t talk about how many times I’ve seen the Dard-e-Disco song video.

I saw Om Shanti Ohm early on in my watching of Hindi films, and I don’t know if I recognized anyone except Kajol the first time I watched Deewangi Deewangi.  This song is my yardstick of how far I’ve come in watching Hindi films.  Farah Khan loves allusions to other Hindi films in her movies, and cameos and this is the king of cameo songs.  I didn’t know Dharmendra or why Shahrukh made that hair gesture with the thin guy I now know is Zayed Khan.  These days, I’m so advanced I know the guy playing Shahrukh’s father in the second half is a big Pakistani soap star (And I’ve watched him play Fawad Khan’s father in Zindagi Gulzar Hai)!  OSO is just that much funnier and you just appreciate it so much more knowing filmi background.  I laughed so hard at the Filmfare scene on a subsequent watch with Abhishek being nominated for Dhoom 4 and SRK being nominated for two identical looking romances in the Swiss Alps with sweaters.

5.  My Name Is Khan

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This may have been the first movie I saw with SRK where he wasn’t playing a version of the SRK persona, but was really acting a character.  Shahrukh plays a man with Asperger’s and his relationship  with Kajol in the first half of the film is just wondrous.  The second half of the film is like looking at my  country through a fun house mirror.  The flood scene somewhere in the South where SRK is taken in by an African American family is a little weird, but it’s still a very moving film with a powerful message.

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4. Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham

KKKG feels like the ultimate Bollywood film.  It’s got just about everybody in it!  I’ve shown this movie as a first Hindi movie to friends because it introduces you to all the major players.  I’ve posted just the reunion scene of SRK with Jaya who plays his mother, and without subtitles, I’ve had people demand to know where they could see this film because of the emotion they saw.  This song,  Yeh Ladka Hai Allah, may be my ultimate SRK and Kajol dance and fall in love number ever.  It is just so, so swoony.  Yeh Ladka Hai Allah, indeed.  And the outfit Shahrukh is wearing is so, so gorgeous.

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3. Veer-Zaara

Veer-Zaara is Yash Chopra at his peak.  Lush scenery, beautiful songs, and an interfaith romance that just makes me tear up each and every time I watch it.  My favorite song sequence of Shahrukh’s ever is Main Yahan Hoon from Veer-Zaara.  Oh, my gosh.  The way Priety is trying to forget Shahrukh as her father forces her to become engaged to Manoj, and yet, she sees Shahrukh everywhere.  He haunts her.  And then goes in for her collarbone in the rain and I swoon.  Every. Single. Time.

 

2. Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi

Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi (Match Made in Heaven) was the second Shahrukh Khan I ever saw, and I watched it right after DDLJ.   This is how new I was to my love of SRK.  I actually paused the movie and looked it up, because I could not believe Raj and Suri were the same actor.  I loved the comedic Raj, but quiet nerdy steadfast Suri stole my heart.  Such a great film.  Aditya Chopra is the master.  I watch this film over and over..  It is my comfort and my solace.  Watching this film cemented my love of Shahrukh Khan forever.

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  1. DDLJ  (Could there be any other?)

Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (The Bravehearted Wins the Bride) is the one that started it all.  The first half can be a little silly, reminding me sometimes of a prank filled John Hughes film.  But, oh, man, the second half hits you.  I can’t even really express what watching DDLJ did to me the first time (and every time).  It touched my heart and gave me something I didn’t even know I was missing.  Hollywood rarely makes Rom-Coms anymore, much less musicals.  This film opened my world and gave me the gift that is Indian cinema.  Since I watched DDLJ in the summer of 2014, I’ve watched over 300 Indian films.  Thanks, Shahrukh for making me fall in love!  And Happy Birthday!

 

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Mohenjo Daro – a somewhat enjoyable hot mess

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Nearly two years is a long time to wait between Hrithik Roshan movies.  My neighbor and I didn’t care what the reviews said, or the mocking of her husband.  We were bound and determined to spend two and half hours with Hrithik.

My neighbor had no idea who the director was, but expectations naturally run high when Ashutosh Gowariker, whose works include Lagaan, Jodhaa Akbar and Swades returns to the helm after a six year absence.

And therein lies the rub.  The reviews have been harsh, because we expect so much, both from Gowariker and Hrithik.  This film was a swing for the rafters and a big miss.  The trepidation started with the trailer.  That fight with the crocodile looked fake, and the story didn’t seem very compelling.

Annnd, my fears were born out.  I think it was good that I had read a few reviews, and watched Anupama Chopra’s disappointed savaging.  I went last night knowing it would be a hot mess, and just went along for the ride.

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Hrithik’s costumes I liked, but the headresses of Pooja Hegde were absolutely ridiculous and distracting.  It’s classic poor farmer comes to the city and falls in love with the beautiful girl from the rich side of town – with a bit of Aladdin thrown in (I kept humming “Riff Raff, Street rat“)

Pooja as the high priest’s daughter is pretty enough but she doesn’t have much sparkle to her.  I kept thinking how much personality a Deepika or a Priyanka would have brought to this role.  Pooja is fine, but she’s not enough to carry this film, when there’s so many other issues with it.

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At the very end they show this famous dancing girl artifact from Mohenjo Daro tumbling in the water, and just look at the attitude of that young girl.  This is the girl I wish the movie had been about.  I want to know about her story – she has so much personality and moxie frozen in metal.

Hrithik gives over 100% in any role he takes on.  His dancing is graceful in Mohenjo Daro even if it’s absolutely ridiculous that he would be disguised by a bit of red eye makeup and a horn on his head.  His dance with Pooja in Tu Hai was my favorite of the film.  The rest of A. R. Rahman’s soundtrack didn’t send me, but I love this song.

 

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Hrithik’s very good in the action sequences, especially in this athletic battle against two cannibals.  (What is it with Indian movies and the dreaded cannibal warriors?)  Hrithik’s intensity is often expressed in just shaking with rage.  Literally shaking.  It gets to be a bit much, to be honest.

The main flaw in the film is not Hrithik over doing it, or Pooja under doing her performance.  It’s the story.  It’s just not enough somehow.  The script needed more work.

Kabir Bedi is a reliable villain, even if he’s getting a bit long in the tooth to be thrown around.  Arunoday Singh plays his son, Moonja, who’s betrothed to the young priestess.  Poor Arunoday just has that kind of face that looks like a slightly stupid villain, like he did in Main Tera Hero.

The very last part of the film is a big pretty unbelievable action sequence rescuing the city inhabitants from a dam breaking.  My neighbor informed me that excavations have shown that Mohenjo Daro was destroyed by water.  Maybe the film would have had more excitement to it if it had been more of a disaster movie than a pseudo political drama of an ancient city.

Mohenjo Daro is a bit of a hot mess, but it had some enjoyable moments.  It’s just not very good, and with Ashutosh Gowariker‘s pedigree, that’s really very disappointing.  And after Baahubali, the special effects in this Indian epic don’t measure up.

Two and a half stars out of five.