Shahrukh Khan

Shahrukh Khan

Shahrukh Khan has been the top star of Hindi cinema since the mid- 1990s, with some of the biggest blockbusters of the decade to his credit. He managed to gain a foothold in the Bombay industry without any family or social connections. During his schooling and college years in New Delhi, he was actively involved in theater. Khan made his debut on television in the late 1980s in the serial Circus and then gained fame with his portrayal of a young army officer in the serial, Fauji (Soldier).

He was the first television actor to achieve such success in films. Khan’s first screen role was in avant garde film‑maker, Mani Kaul’s version of Dostoevsky’s Idiot in 1991. His first leading role in a Hindi film was in Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman where he plays a small-towner who arrives in Bombay to achieve his dreams of being a rich and successful engineer. Khan’s stardom came about from his extremely unconventional “negative” roles in Baazigar and Darr both released in 1993. In the former he plays a killer on the prowl seeking vengeance for his family’s misfortune, and in the latter he plays a psychotic obsessed with another man’s wife. After playing the villain in three films, Khan had a complete change of image in 1995 with the blockbuster Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge where he plays a lovable and romantic hero from England who goes to great lengths to win over his love’s family.

While Khan has played working- class characters (Koyla) and bumbling, comical ones (Baadshah, Duplicate), his major successes have been from his wealthy, sophis­ticated, cosmopolitan roles (Dil to Pagal Hai, Kuch Kuch Hota Ha, Kabhie Khushi Kabhi Gham). Khan started his own production company in 1999 — Dreamz Unlimited — with the actress Juhi Chawla, his co-star in many films, and the director Aziz Mirza. The trio produced three films between 1999 and 2003, of which, Chalte Chalte, starring Khan and directed by Mirza, became one of the biggest box-office hits of 2003. Though Khan has reduced his work­load considerably and newer entrants into the industry are touted by the media as challenging his stardom and audience appeal, his films still make a significant impact at the box office and command the media spotlight. The 2002 remake of Devdas starring Khan — a film that has been made a number of times throughout the decades — was the most expensive Indian film made to date, the biggest box- office success of the year, and the first popular Indian film to premiere at the Cannes Film Festival.