Birthday Love: 10 times Shah Rukh Khan portrayed the not-so-conventional hero


When one thinks of Shah Rukh Khan, immediately his roles as Raj, Rahul, Aman and the many other chocolate hero characters come to mind. The numerous roles of the actor being the perfect good guy have earned him the title of the King of Romance. However, from time-to-time Khan has surprised his audience with other types of roles, which have also proved as successful for him.

As the actor celebrates his 55th birthday, takes you through 10 of Khan’s more alternative roles, where he proved he was more than the conventional hero. 

‘Baazigar’ (1993) – Ajay Sharma
With some great successes in his initial releases, it became evident that Khan came to a point where he wanted to move a little outside of the perfect hero box just before the release of this film. Apparently, despite advice from others telling him to stay away from negative roles, Khan signed Abbas-Mustan’s ‘Baazigar’ as the conniving, vengeful Ajay Sharma who stopped at nothing to take revenge on the man responsible for his family losing everything. Though he was a hero, the questionable complexities of his character were what made his viewers fear him. The critical acclaim Khan gained for this role was the beginning of a whole host of ground-breaking acting opportunities for the actor.

‘Darr’ (1993) – Rahul Mehra
Stepping into the shoes of an ultimate villain was seen as acting suicide. And with Khan having already played a grey character in ‘Baazigar’, agreeing to do Yash Chopra’s ‘Darr’ as the baddie was a huge gamble for the actor. However, little did people know that Khan’s talent was so advanced that they’d end up loving his role as the obsessive Rahul Mehra. Khan broke all the rules with this film, where he really brought out the worst in his character and the very best in his acting ability. He was uncomfortable to watch, yet enthralling all at once.

‘Anjaam’ (1994) – Vijay Agnihotri
When Rahul Rawail came to Khan with the role of Vijay Agnihotri in ‘Anjaam’ there was no doubt Khan would do justice to this role. Despite this being yet another obsessive lover role, Khan depicted his character development to the max. Through his flawless performance, it was evident Khan had gathered all the experience he had bagged from his past and created a character who was in fact truly terrifying. Unlike his previous roles of similar context, there was nothing about Vijay that viewers liked, could relate to or even sympathise with. Again, Khan made the perfect move to mix up his growing list of roles.

‘Ram Jaane’ (1995) – Ram Jaane
Continuing to explore complex lovers when it came to off-centered roles, Rajiv Mehra’s ‘Ram Jaane’ was slightly different. Here Khan playing the protagonist wasn’t quite a villain but yet not quite the good guy either. Delving deep into his character’s life and how a childhood like his characters’ would have a deep-rooted impact on his adulthood was something Khan evidently thought about when he played Ram Jaane. Here, though his audiences knew he would never win the girl, Khan managed to bring out the same sense of innocence and passion he is well known for from his more romantic characters into this one. Khan played a character that was sincere, helpless and totally lost, where his audience were rooting for him in a completely different way. 

‘Hey Ram’ (2000)- Amjad Ali Khan
Already having gained huge star status by the time Kamal Hassan offered Khan his debut South film, by this time there was no doubt that there wasn’t anything Khan couldn’t do. With so many actors crossing paths with South films, there was much excitement for people to see Khan in a role such as this, and with it behind his first period drama, added to the commotion. Playing the soft, witty and patriarchal Amjad Ali Khan, audience and critic alike were highly impressed with Khan’s natural performance along with how wonderfully he had picked up the language. Playing the loyal friend, Khan used his talent to channel the kindness of what makes a hero and place it in the form of a comrade. Winning his audiences over, they now wanted a friend like him.

‘Shakti: The Power’ (2002) – Jaisingh
Krishna Vamsi’s ‘Shakti: The Power’ was one of the very few women-centric films of the naughties. At a time where many films were all about the heroes, Vamsi placed Karisma Kapoor as the centre of the film. Though Khan has a limited role in this film, his performance was one that stood out as much as Kapoors and Nana Patekar’s. Playing drunkard Jaisingh, this time Khan was a bad-mannered drunkard with a soft and pure heart who just happened to be at the right place and the right time. He was funny, tough, slightly strange and lovable all at the same time. Khan’s short performance made such a brilliant impression, it was difficult for critics not to praise him. Here he proved, he didn’t need to be the protagonist to make an impact.

‘Hum Tumhare Hain Sanam’ (2010) – Gopal 
Aside from playing protagonist roles of boy meets girl, boy wins the family over and has a happy ever after ending, K S Adhiyaman’s ‘Hum Tumhare Hain Sanam’ was a story that depicted what comes after the happy ever after. Playing a jealous and difficult Gopal, Khan depicted a character that uneasily resonated with many viewers in showing traits of people they know in real life. Where he had managed to win his audience over at the start of the film, Khan performed a role that was almost hard to watch. No longer did the viewers see a soft, loving and caring hero, but rather a troubled, insecure and overbearing husband that made watching him on-screen slightly uncomfortable. Again, Khan depicted what it takes to be a great actor, not hindering his character’s authenticity as the bad guy where his co-star Salman Khan was elevated as the one who was all good and holy.

‘Don’ (2006)/ ‘Don 2’ (2011) – Don
When Farhan Akhtar decided to remake the Amitabh Bachchan starrer ‘Don’ (1978), little did anyone know that he would have Khan play the role rather differently. Changing up the story-line, Khan’s depiction as the ruthless gangster leader Don is a juxtaposition to his other roles of similar nature. Khan as Don was modern, slick and as villainous as one could get. Already holding a formidable reputation with ruthless characters, Don is one that is evident Khan loved to play. With the film having a number of grey-coloured characters where there’s no real hero, unlike his previous negative roles, here was someone many people wanted to have a piece of. Just when everyone thought they had seen all he could do, Khan pulled this one out of the bag and once again, it resonated with the masses.

‘Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna’ (2006) – Dev Saran
When Khan signed Karan Johar’s ‘Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna’, he did in fact understand that it was a film that not many would take a liking to. Him as Dev Saran, an angry, dissatisfied husband, and father, who has an affair with another married woman, was not something the Dharma Productions viewers were used to. No longer was Khan the loyal, ever-loving hero they were so used to seeing from a Johar film. Though Khan was an unlikable character, the truth about love stories that this film brought about, still made people realise that not all love stories are the same. Though it wasn’t an instant favourite, seeing Khan playing such a role was very refreshing and exciting.

‘Fan’ (2016) – Gaurav Chandna
When the trailer for Maneesh Sharma’s ‘Fan’ released there was huge excitement as to how would portray someone many had the impression he was in fact used to seeing. In a double role as an actor and an obsessive fan of that actor, Khan was far from playing his own self as the former. Here Khan played the hero and the villain. Khan as Aryan Khanna was the ultimate star whose much darker shades were brought out from his so-called ultimate fan Gaurav Chandna, whose love for the actor became more dangerous than anyone anticipated. If viewers found Khan’s look as Gaurav disturbing, Khan’s execution was so brilliant, his character made shivers run down his viewers’ spines. Where Khan’s change in conventional roles started with obsessiveness, here was a character that combined every other character similar to it into one. And though he was a fan who turned into hos loves worst enemy, it was a performance that will stay in people’s minds forever.

Having always given his audiences an impression that remains with them even after walking out of the cinema, Khan has undeniably made some of the best mistakes an actor could make. Always having followed his aspirations and pushing the boundaries of what’s expected of him, Khan was one of the minorities of actors who didn’t follow the crowd. Whichever type of character he fashions, his viewers know they are in for a real treat, where he never fails to impress.

Here is wishing Shah Rukh Khan a very Happy Birthday from all of us at

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