Shah Rukh Khan has appeared in 81 films, playing a major or starring in 60 of them. But the rest are a mix of cameos (much smaller roles) and special appearances in songs. Because he is such a big star, these are often done as favors to friends. Since time is of the essence to see all the SRK appearances, I decided to do a single post on all of his musical appearances.
Kaal (2005) - Kaal Dhamaal
Shah Rukh Khan produced this horror film with his friend Karan Johar. Farah Khan was the choreographer and it is clear that she revisited the number when she created "Dard e Disco" for Om Shanti Om. It is not a complex number; very sexy, with SRK making a gradual appearance, body part by body part. First you just see his lower jaw and lips, then shoulders and back, then eyes and arms. It is so much like Dard e Disco that someone has done a mash up with the Dard e Disco music and the Kaal video.
Alag (2006) - Sabse Alag
This is hauntingly beautiful song, with ten stars , including Shah Rukh Khan, each singing a portion. It is very simply staged. No fancy costumes, no dancing, just one person singing directly into the camera. It's amazing to see how few of them can actually both lip-sync and connect with the camera, and not one can do both as well as Shah Rukh Khan does. Seeing this actually made me want to see the movie, until I read the reviews. It is a remake of the 1995 Hollywood film Powder, and apparently not a good one. So enjoy the video!
I see you (2006) - Subah Subah
SRK does not sing or dance in this, which is the title number. Instead, he is the guitar-playing street musician, which is pretty funny. It is also very, very short. Don't blink or you will miss it. There is also a teensy Hrithik Roshan cameo towards the end. It looks like an intriguing film, and it is nice to see a smiling Rampal in a romantic role!
Zrazzy 4 (2008) Break Free
The scene is an awards show taking place in what looks like a nightclub, and SRK is doing a special appearance as a featured performer. He is very much in his Don character, complete with that little ponytail and menacing sneer. There's a Hrithik Roshen version, too, that was used in the promotional video. It's fun to compare their interpretations!
Always Kabhi Kabhi (2011) - Antenna
Shah Rukh Khan produced this film about high school seniors on the verge of adulthood. He appears during the closing credits in a sexy, remixed version of this song performed earlier by the youthful ensemble. Very catchy tune, but the movie flopped.
Bombay Talkies (2013) Apna Bombay Talkies
Not a single film, but a set of four shorts produced in celebration of Bollywood's first century. It opens with this really fun title sequence with lots and lots of familiar faces (20!) doing a capsule history of Bollywood movies. SRK gets the biggest part, but they all look like they are having a ball. Fun!
This was Shah Rukh Khan's last release in his biggest year. While it got off to a good opening day, thanks to three big stars (not only Khan, fresh off of DDLJ, but also popular veterans Jackie Shroff and Anil Kapoor) and a well-respected director, it fizzled fast thanks to negative word of mouth and reviews. It was listed as a flop by Indian sources, despite record-setting first day collections. In my opinion, it is underrated. Flawed, but still watchable and entertaining. Trimurti had been plagued with troubles from the beginning. It was supposed to release on Christmas 1994 but due to Sanjay Dutt's imprisonment most of the film had to be reshot with Anil Kapoor in the role, which resulted in the film being released an entire year later.
Synopsis The "Trimurti" (Trinity) in the title has a double meaning. In Hindu mythology, it refers to the combination of Brahma (creator), Vishnu (preserver) brother and Shiva (destroyer). They are represented by Romi (Khan), Shroff (Shakti), and Kapoor (Anand/Sikander), respectively, as the three sons of a virtuous police inspector, Satyadevi Singh (Priya Tendulkar). Satyadevi defies a corrupt priest and in return, he murders her husband and frames her for a murder, resulting in her sent to prison. She hopes her sons -- her Trimurti -- will someday avenge her fate and bring the priest to justice. But the two older sons argue over how to raise the youngest and Anand leaves home and becomes a criminal (taking the name Sikander). There's a couple of romantic interests, but the main plot line is the destruction and repair of the brothers' relationship. (And of course, a prolonged and dramatic scheme at the end where evil is defeated and good triumphs!)
Worth watching for: Anil Kapoor, Jackie Shroff are always worth my time. This is, in some ways, a rewrite of their film Ram Lakhan, with the added presence of a baby-faced and very lively Shah Rukh Khan. This is the only movie in which Anil Kapoor and SRK appear together, and Anil's manic scenes with SRK are some of the best in the film, at least for me. They are both high energy performers, and exhausting to watch (in a good way). "Very Good Very Bad" is my favorite musical number in the film, partly because of their chemistry. It may be the only credible brother casting I have seen for either of them. Trimurti also offers a rare opportunity to see SRK in drag, when he dresses like a maid to visit the object of his affection.
Want to watch? YouTube has it with no subtitles. I got my copy through Interlibrary Loan.
One of the drawbacks of watching early Shah Rukh Khan films is that so many of his role are negative. His romantic heroes are often flawed in some way (and redeemed or improved by love), and many of his negative roles, inversely, have some tiny sliver of good in them. In Darr and Baazigar, those small hopeful flashes appear throughout the movie, making an otherwise detestable character somewhat sympathetic. Then there are films like Ram Jaane, in which SRK plays a villain so black-hearted that even his legendary charm cannot make him attractive. (Though, I discussed below, he retains his humanity and it far from being a cardboard villain.) After watching Ram Jaane, I had to re-watch Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi to recover.
Ram Jaane is a reworking of the 1938 Hollywood classic, Angels with Dirty Faces, with Shah Rukh Khan in the James Cagney role of the slum kid who grows up to be a ruthless criminal. The Hindi version turned the virtuous boyhood friend into a social worker instead of a priest (can't work in a love triangle with a priest...), but otherwise the plot is very similar, and the ending is the same. The Cagney/SRK character is caught and convicted, and goes to his death promising bravado and defiance. At the last minute, in full view of witnesses, the condemned man cries and pleads for mercy. It is understood that this was his one unselfish act, an attempt to reduce himself in the eyes of his adoring young gang of wannabe gangsters.
Synopsis: A baby boy is abandoned and grows up neglected and abused. He doesn't even have a name; the film title is the response he is given when he asks what his name is, and gets the reply "ram jaane" (God knows). He was two childhood friends, a good-hearted boy (Murli) and a girl (Bela) that they both adore. Ram Jaane becomes a gangster; Murli and Bela devote their lives to helping orphaned children. Ram Jaane tries to help them, but only knows violence and corruption. Even his "good deeds" are criminal. The Murli convinces Bela to try to reform Ram Jaane, but his uncouth and violent behavior drives her away. Eventually, Ram Jaane is arrested, convicted of murder, and executed. After his death, Murli and Bela read a letter from Ram Jaane revealing that he knew that Bela loved Murli, which why he drove her away. So there is that one tiny sliver of goodness, at the very end. I don't usually cry at movies, but if this ending doesn't make you tear up, you are made of stone. This was the third of Shah Rukh Khan's hit films from 1995 (after Karan Arjun and Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge).
Worth watching for: The performances and the music. Juhi Chawla and Vivek Mushran are superb as Bela and Murli, and there is a marvelous array of villains, including Tinnu Anand, one of my favorite baddies. The music by Anu Malik (who has scored over 350 films in his career) helps set the mood and convey the characters' emotions beautifully.
Update: Marilyn, a sister SRKian from Ohio, posted this on Twitter: "Ram Janne makes me grieve for the child who craved love and grows into the man who was denied love, turning bad because of it." Beautifully said. The performances make it possible to be appalled by Ram Jaane's behavior without reducing his humanity. Ram Janne is the most fully developed of SRK's early negative characters; if there is a Don 3, i would love to see the same level of complexity, which the first two films in the franchise don't quite achieve.
Yes, Shah Rukh Khan's performance is energetic and over the top, but so was Cagney, in Angels with Dirty Faces. In Cagney's death row scene, his face isn't shown as his cowers and begs for his life. Shah Rukh, never afraid to look ugly, blubbers as he collapses in front of his horrified gang. I could not find a video of that scene, but here is a live performance of the courtroom scene where Ram Jaane indicts the corrupt and heartless system that punishes poor children for being born. It is a reminder that he was trained in theater, and knows how to deliver lines to a real audience.
Want to watch? It's $1.99 on Youtube. I got my copy through Interlibrary Loan.
I used to joke that I wrote a poem a decade. That should make them easy to remember, right? So it was a bit unsettling to find this poem tucked in an old notebook, dated July 2007. I have no recollection of writing it, and no idea what was on my mind at the time. Apparently I penned it after walking the then-new labyrinth at the University of Maryland.
I am down to my last nine films in my quest to watch all of Shah Rukh Khan's major films before his next movie, Dear Zindagi, is released in November. The final nine, as I explained in a recent post, tend to be hard to find for a variety of reasons. Some were made early in his career; some were box office flops. Guddu (1995) was both. For each film, I plan to do a (very) brief synopsis, give the reasons it is worth watching, and let you know how I was able to access it.
Synopsis: Boy meets girl, they fall in love, TRAGEDY, family conflict, bittersweet ending. This was SRK's third film released in his most prolific year, just two months before his award-winning breakout role in Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge. He released SEVEN films in 1995, six of them between July and December. Four were flops, but the other three were the clear hits (DDLJ, Ram Jaane, and Karan Arjun). One of the flops -- Oh Darling! Yeh Hai India -- was well-received critically, though it didn't win popular success. Not too shabby for a fledgling actor just turning thirty.
Worth watching for: The performances of both Shah Rukh Khan and Manisha Koirala (Dil Se). How did I miss this for my "first date" series? They work so beautifully together, and their chemistry makes up for the plot, which swings between predictable and totally ridiculous. It even made up for fact that I had to watch it without subtitles. If you can only watch one part, zero in on the scene when Guddu and Salina run into an ancient temple to escape the rain. The temple walls are decorated with sculptures depicting sensual couples in amazingly explicit activities. Which leads to this musical number (check out the mood transition at 1:15):
SRK also gets to do some Olympic-level scene chewing. Some people dislike his over-the-top, melodramatic roles, but frankly, they have grown on me. One of the reasons for his popularity, I think, is his total commitment to every line, every reaction shot, every dance number. I have not yet seen a film where he just "phones it in". Even when he is subtle, he is focused and intense. You want to feel the agony of a crippling, blinding headache? Shah Rukh Khan gives it to you in Guddu. Several times.
I have nine more Shah Rukh Khan films to watch in order to have seen all of his full-fledged roles before November, when Dear Zindagi comes out. Thanks to Netflix DVD, einthusan.com, and the magic of interlibrary loan, I have been able to locate all of them except one -- King Uncle, the first one on my list. So I am moving that to the end of the queue and starting with the ones I have already watched in the last couple of weeks. Reactions to come! And if anyone has a suggestion for getting my hands on King Uncle, please pass it along.
September 4: Guddu (1995)
September 11: Ram Jaane (1995)
September 18: Trimurti (1995)
September 25: Chaahat (1996)
October 2: Josh (2000)
October 9: Oh Darling! Yeh Hai India! (1995)
October 16: Shakti: The Power (2002)
October 23: Yeh Lamhe Judaai Ke (2004)
October 30: King Uncle (1993)