26 glorious years and still counting

A look back at the highs and lows of King Khan’s life that is too dramatic yet inspirational

Hailing from a small port city of Mangalore, from the middle class life of rented apartments and everyday commoner struggles, rose a star who was destined to conquer the Bollywood empire. He entered the film industry with no godfathers but with talent, hardcore passion and unflagging hope.

He was told that his face “wasn’t chocolaty enough” to be cast as a romantic hero. Who knew, that in the course of a few decades, Shah Rukh Khan would go ahead to become the reigning Badshah of Bollywood redefining romance for the masses and the film industry, itself.

The mega star completes his 26 successful years in the Indian film industry this month, with an unparalleled fame, success and acclaim. While our love for the star can’t be quantified and surpasses all realms, here’s looking back at his life, legacy and achievements.

Early life

The young Khan had an inborn flair for acting; he was admired for his imitations of Bollywood actors like Dilip Kumar, Amitabh Bachchan and Mumtaz. Shah Rukh was enrolled at Hansraj College to earn a bachelor’s degree in economics, but his true calling lied at Delhi's Theatre Action Group (TAG), where Khan spent most of his time, honing his acting talent. During his early career in Bollywood, Khan also attended the National School of Drama. The early 80’s ushered the most terrible time in the actor’s life. He was only 15 when his father, Meer Taj Mohammed Khan, succumbed to cancer and years later his mother, Lateef Fatima, died of diabetic complications. At this time, a still-grieving Khan valiantly took on the responsibility of the family.

Love at first sight and marriage

In the world of showbiz, wherein ardent romance is like evaporating mist, relationships short-lived and star marriages wilt and, often degenerate into publicised divorces; Shah Rukh Khan and Gauri Khan, have stood by each other’s side, steadfast as a rock. The couple are amongst Bollywood’s most revered and loved, and their marriage has survived many a tests of time. An 18-year-old Khan laid eyes on Gauri Chibber for the first time at a party, while she danced. A shy Khan, at first couldn’t ask Gauri to dance with him, but when mustered enough courage to do so, she turned him down, saying that she is waiting for her boyfriend. But in reality, there was no ‘boyfriend’; it was her brother she was there with. Shah Rukh later revealed in an interview, that when he came to know about this, he called Gauri and said, “mujhe bhi apna bhai samjho.” (Consider me your brother too!). And, this was how the most beautiful relationship of Bollywood unfolded. The couple are parents to two boys, Aryan and AbRam and a daughter, Suhana.

Making It Big In Indian Film Industry

The 1980 Fauji – a television series depicting the realistic view of training army cadets – debuted the actor, in which he played the leading role of Abhimanyu Rai. This was followed by several appearances in television series Circus (1989–90) and miniseries Idiot (1991). Khan also took up minor parts in the serials Umeed (1989) and Wagle Ki Duniya (1988–90), and in the English-language television film In Which Annie Gives It Those Ones (1989). Khan’s appearances in the serials earned him critical acclaim, with many comparing his appearance and acting style with Dilip Kumar. But the young actor didn’t want to step into a film career, believing he wasn’t good enough for the big picture. This didn’t last long, for he changed his decision to act in films in 1991, as an escape from the grief of his mother's death.

His first appearance was in Deewana in which he starred alongside Divya Bharti as the second male lead behind Rishi Kapoor, and then in Hema Malini's directorial debut Dil Aashna Hai. Deewana became a box office hit and launched Khan's Bollywood career. The movie earned him his first Filmfare Best Male Debut Award.

Awards & recognitions

· Shah Rukh has had approximately 226 nominations across popular Bollywood awards, and has won as many as 207 of them.

· He has won fourteen Filmfare Awards, nine Star Screen Awards, three IIFA Awards, eight Zee Cine Awards, three Bollywood Movie Awards, two Global Indian Film Awards & many other accolades. He has also won all the Best Actor Awards at Star's Sabsey Favourite Kaun Awards.

· He was also honoured with the Rajiv Gandhi Award for Excellence in the Field of Entertainment in 2002 and Padma Shri, India's fourth highest civilian award from the Government of India in 2005.

· In 2004, Time magazine in their third annual special on Asia's heroes selected him along with 19 other Asians as the "20 Asian Heroes under the age of 40".

· In 2005, he appeared on the cover of the Asian edition of National Geographic magazine dated February 2005. This was a rare honour extended by National Geographic, since unlike many other magazines, celebrities are not their natural choice for a cover image.

Rise to the title of ‘King of Romance’

Shah Rukh Khan is rightly the crowned King of romance, but it wasn’t until Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge (DDLJ), that he earned the title. His pairing opposite Kajol, not only made the film the longest running Hindi movie in Bollywood’s history, but also earned the lead stars a permanent place in fans’ hearts. Call it tradition or whatever you may like, but about every five years or whenever the right script comes along, Shah Rukh and Kajol are known to come back together to create their own brand of movie magic. Over the years, Shah Rukh has started in a number of hit romantic films like, Veer Zara, Dil Tou Pagal Hai, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Devdas and Mohabbatein, among others.



Being the Bollywood badshah sure gets him into hot waters frequently. Here are some of the most talked about controversies that SRK found himself involved in owing to either his celebrity status, religion or behaviour.

• AbRam Khan surrogacy case

Shah Rukh Khan’s youngest son was born prematurely via a surrogate mother. Around the time of his birth, there were rumours that him and Gauri had done a prenatal sex determination test. These tests are banned in India because of a cultural predilection to favour boys over girls. According to reports, Mumbai officials even went to the Khans’ residence to investigate the claims. The team was turned away.

“They said I had sex determination test, which was rubbish. I am too educated to be indulging in this non-sense. He was ill, and people were talking about sex determination just because he is the child of a famous movie star,” the actor said in an interview.

• Pak cricketers & Shiv Sena

SRK faced the ire of Shiv Sena after stating that he would like Pakistani cricketers to participate in the third season of Indian Premiere League (IPL). The political party even threatened to stall the release of his film My Name Is Khan. Shah Rukh reacted on Twitter, saying: "Sad, my statements are seen as a stand against a group instead of a stand for myself and my individuality. Differences in ideology should be grounds for debates & discussion. To see it any other way is so unfortunate."

•The Wankede Stadium ban

SRK was banned from the Wankede Stadium after he got into a fight with security officials during a game featuring his team Kolkata Knight Riders. The Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) officials lodged a police complaint against the team’s co-owner for his alleged misbehaviour at the stadium.

•Frenemies forever

Bollywood’s most famous frenemies, Salman and Shah Rukh once called each other brothers. But things took such a turn that the former had even said, "SRK and I can never be friends," while the latter thought, "Salman and I don't talk which is absolutely right." Things apparently got ugly at Katrina Kaif's birthday bash in 2008 when, reportedly, the Darr star made inappropriate comments about Salman's ex-flame Aishwarya Rai, which annoyed him. Things got so tensed that Gauri and Katrina had to pull both the actors back. King Khan, however, said in an interview that Salman got angry because he turned down a cameo in Main Aur Mrs Khanna (while Salman agreed to do a guest appearance in Om Shanti Om). Salman in turn said he never offered him the film, adding, "Shah Rukh was like my brother. He used to call me ‘sir’ during his struggling days."

• The Alleged Link-up with PeeCee

Shah Rukh and Priyanka Chopra starred in Don together. Since then, their on-screen and off-screen chemistry have led many to believe that they might have had an affair. Apparently, PC would visit him at his home regularly and had become good friends with Gauri, too. While she tried to land brand endorsements together with him, SRK started recommending her name to the producers of his films. But soon the rumours had spread too much and both the actors decided to maintain their distance. PC is reportedly not on good terms with Gauri and Karan Johar because of the link-up.

• The Badshah & Mr Perfectionist at loggerhead

During a promotional event of his TV debut Satyamev Jayate, Aamir Khan praised his colleagues who made it big on TV, naming Amitabh Bachchan, Hrithik Roshan and Salman Khan. He simply ‘forgot’ to mention SRK, who has hosted shows like Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC), Zor Ka Jhatka and Kya Aap Panchvi Paas Se Tez Hain.

The 3 Idiots actor had earlier posted on his blog: "Shah Rukh is licking my feet and I am feeding him biscuits every now and then. What more can I ask for? Now, before you jump to any conclusions let me add that Shah Rukh is the name of our dog.”

Incidentally, Aamir is quite close to Salman!

• A burst of violence

The Ra.One actor allegedly assaulted Farah Khan's husband and filmmaker Shirish Kunder at Sanjay Dutt's Agneepath bash. Talking to the reporter, Farah said, "Shah Rukh has always told me that physical abuse is the worst way to sort out a problem, and it saddens me to see him doing the same."

• Detention at US airports

In August 2009, SRK was detained at the Newark Airport in New Jersey for nearly two hours because of his last name. The actor was visiting the country to attend a South Asian event where he was the guest of honour and was released after Congress MP Rajiv Shukla spoke to US authorities.

King Khan was detained yet again at a New York airport by immigration officials after arriving from India in a private plane with Nita Ambani, to address students at Yale University. While Nita, wife of Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani, and the rest of their group were cleared immediately, Khan was stopped and was given immigration clearance only after about two hours.

He laughed it off with a generous dose of sarcasm. “Whenever I start feeling too arrogant, I always take a trip to America. The immigration guys kicked the star out of stardom," Khan said, addressing the students at the Yale University where he was honoured as a Chubb Fellow.


· One of SRK's fans from Australia buys him a piece of land on the moon from Lunar Republic Society on his birthday every year. And she has bought him several acres on The Sea of Tranquility which is one of the most sought-after addresses on the moon.

· In 1998, he won the Zee Cine Award for best actor but to everyone's surprise he called Salman Khan on stage and handed over the award to him and asked him to deliver the thank you speech instead.

· He is obsessed with the number ‘555’. He believes the right number can bring one good fortune.

· He has received an honorary degree in recognition for his acts of philanthropy, altruism and humanitarianism and his global reach as an actor, from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. So technically, he is Dr Shah Rukh Khan. He is also a knight, as Shah Rukh has been given the status equivalent of Knighthood in Malaysia.

· He has been named among the top five richest actors in the world multiple times, which means he is richer than actors like Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks, Clint Eastwood and Adam Sandler.

· He signed what probably is his most iconic film, DDLJ, without even looking at the script out of his love for filmmaker Aditya Chopra.

· One of the reasons why Shah Rukh bought Mannat, his palatial bungalow in Juhu, Mumbai, was that he wanted to have an exclusive prayer room. He’s been quoted as saying that if he was broke, he would sell everything but Mannat.

· Shah Rukh played charactors named Rahul in nine of his films and Raj in six films. He played a negative role in six films and his character dies, or is reborn in about 16 of his films.

· His first salary was INR50 which he earned by working as an usher at a Pankaj Udhas’ concert in Delhi in the early 80s. He used the money to take the train to Agra and see the Taj Mahal.

· His favourite actor is Dilip Kumar and his favourite actresses are Mumtaz and Saira Banu.

· Shah Rukh’s Hindi was very poor in school. His mother promised to take him for a movie if he passed his Hindi exams. Teenager SRK loved watching movies, and began to score top marks in Hindi then onwards.

· SRK has a phobia of riding horses, swings and never eats ice-creams.

SRK’s famous leading ladies

Having been the king of romance for decades, the actor has made popular pairs with actresses throughout the years. Here’s a few of his favourite leading ladies.

Kajol: Who can miss their names when talking about Bollywood romance? The two actors have taught a generation to love through smash hits like Baazigar, DDLJ, Karan Arjun, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham and My Name is Khan. The characters of Rahul-Anjali and Raj-Simran will forever remain engraved in our hearts.

Madhuri Dixit: People sure went crazy for them when the Dhak Dhak girl teamed up with the heartthrob of the country. Sparks surely flew in Anjaam, Koyla, Hum Tumhare Hain Sanam and Devdas, but Dil Tou Pagal Hai walks away with the award of being the best SRK-Madhuri movie.

Juhi Chawla: The superstar’s self-confessed ‘lucky mascot’, Juhi is a popular favourite when it comes to heroines having a crackling chemistry with SRK. Close friends, business partners and co-owners of IPL team Kolkata Knight Riders, they have acted in 11 movies together, including Darr, Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman, Yes Boss, Duplicate and Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani.

Rani Mukerji: Rani has featured with the actor in films like Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Chalte Chalte, Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, Veer Zaara and Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna. Rani has also done cameos in SRK’s songs.

Preity Zinta: The dimpled heroine has given smash hits at the box office when paired with the dimpled hero. Take a cue – Kal Ho Naa Ho, Veer Zaara and Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna! Plus, Preity also obliged her good friend by appearing in a couple of songs from his movies.

Deepika Padukone: Deepika is fast becoming the next favourite lady of the audience to be seen with SRK. The actress made her debut opposite him in Om Shanti Om which was a massive hit. They went on to act in Happy New Year and Chennai Express as well.

Experiment with film roles

After establishing himself as a romantic hero, Shah Rukh set out to tread the road less travelled by experimenting with his film roles. Khan is known to push the envelope and be among the first to try out something new in the industry, be it with his films, in the technical department or even with marketing, this star does it all. Over the years, we have seen him play a superhero in Ra.One, double up to play a star and his own stalker in Fan and will now be seen playing a dwarf in the upcoming Anand L Rai’s Zero, opposite Katrina Kaif and Anushka Sharma. •