Shah Rukh Khan is now over 50 years and whether you like him or hate him, there’s no denying one fact.
He is the only guy in the present crop of superstars who has made it on his own. The guy went through theatre, television, films – to finally get where he is. Of course, there are the Irrfan Khans and Nawazuddin Siddiquis too, but among superstars, he’s the only self-made star around.
When he started, Shah Rukh Khan’s choice of films was rather strange. His first two films starred him as a good boy in unfortunate circumstances, but after that – he went berserk. His choice of films in the next few years could only be described as Harakiri in hindsight, but like he says, it all worked out in the end.
Not all of those films were successful, but not all of them were bad either. Here are eight Shah Rukh Khan flops that seem pretty cool in hindsight.
1. CHAMATKAAR (1992): Directed by Rajiv Mehra, the film stars Shah Rukh Khan as a young man who wants to built a school on his property, a long lost dream of his father. However, he gets cheated by his best friend, and lands up in Mumbai – cheated, broke, and angry – and takes refuge in a cemetery.
Unknown to him, there’s a ghost in the cemetery – a former ganglord who has unfulfilled wishes of his own – a fantastic Naseeruddin Shah having lots of fun with the character. The ghost – ironically called Amar Kumar, helps Shah Rukh Khan in return for ‘atma ko chain’, and the film then carves a crazy path from there on. Chamatkar is an odd, goofy film, but it’s a lot of fun too.
2. ANJAAM (1994): Shah Rukh Khan had been nominated for the Filmfare Award for the Best Villain in the previous year for Darr, and with the way he was going, it seemed like the guy had decided to pursue a career as an antagonist.
Starring Shah Rukh Khan and Madhuri Dixit for the first time, Anjaam is the story of a man obsessed with a woman who is already committed to another man. Sounds like the story of Darr? Well, Anjaam is Darr on steroids, mincing no words, and not shying away from showing a truly evil villain. Shah Rukh Khan won the award for the Best Villain for this film.
3. MAYA MEMSAAB (1993): Based on Gustave Flaubert’s novel Madame Bovary, it’s sad that the film is known today only for the scene with Deepa Sahi. The novel was so scandalous when it released, that obscenity cases were filed against the writer. Directed by Ketan Mehta (who went on to marry Sahi), the film was a bold step at a time when Bollywood was majorly making crime capers and soppy love stories.
Shah Rukh Khan stars as Lalit, a younger lover to the elder Maya, who was an independent, intelligent and successful woman. Maya Memsaab was a fresh take on heroines in Hindi cinema, and the film still manages to grip your attention when you watch it in 2015.
4. YES BOSS (1997): Starring Shah Rukh Khan and Juhi Chawla, Yes Boss narrates the story of a likeable, shy man who goes out of his way to help his boss indulge in extra-marital affairs. He is paid extra for it, and seems to be happy with the set up.
However, things get complicated when his asshole boss (Aditya Pancholi) begins to flirt with the girl he likes – Seema – an aspiring model. Shah Rukh Khan is called Rahul, so you know what you’re getting. However, unlike other dramatic films of the 90s, Yes Boss is an unassuming film that explains exactly how Shah Rukh Khan climbed up the ladder of success. It was probably also the beginning of his Raj/Rahul roles that he is known for.
5. DIL SE (1998): To this day, no one really knows why Dil Se failed at the box office. Just the names of the people involved in the film should have been enough. It was produced by Mani Ratnam, Ram Gopal Verma and Shekar Kapur – the three biggest names in the 90s. The story was written by Tigmanshu Dhulia, the music was by AR Rahman and it starred the biggest star of the 90s – Shah Rukh Khan himself.
Dil Se is the story of an All India Radio executive who falls in love with a mysterious woman he meets during an assignment in the North East states of India. As he meets her on and off, he realizes there are shades to her that he had no clue about. A film that attempted to raise questions on progress, development and human rights violations, Dil Se probably failed because the audience couldn’t take Shah Rukh Khan in any other role but that of Rahul and Raj. Dil Se is still revered by film students today for Dhulia’s dialogues, and Santosh Sivan’s cinematography. We at Wirally also thought Dil Se was Rahman’s best album so far.
6. PAHELI (2005): Directed by Amol Palekar, and produced by Shah Rukh Khan’s banner, Paheli was adapted from a story written by Vijayadan Detha.
The film tells the story of a lousy loser (Kishan) who is dull, boring and sent away just after marriage, to look after the family’s business. A ghost sees this and takes his place, wooing the newly wed Lachha (Rani Mukherjee). Paheli won critical acclaim, hailed as the best looking film India had ever produced. Unfortunately, the audience didn’t think to agree with it. Thanks to soulful music by MM Kreem and breathtaking cinematography by Ravi K. Chandran, Paheli remains one of those inexplicable flops in Indian cinema.
7. SWADES (2004): If Paheli didn’t do well, Shah Rukh Khan wasn’t probably surprised. The previous year saw another film tank – Ashutosh Gowarikar’s Swades.
Gowarikar was fresh off the success of the humongous Lagaan, Shah Rukh Khan was going through a purple patch. It was a unique story, Shah Rukh Khan was going in for a complete image overhaul, and there weren’t any unnecessary gimmicks the film resorted to.
Shah Rukh Khan put in his best performance in the film, and yet, inexplicably, the film sank. Critics and fans have long theorized that had Swades succeeded, we might have seen a different Shah Rukh Khan today.
Shah Rukh Khan has seen the biggest hits of the industry in his career spanning 25 years, and honestly, some of those films weren’t too great. Dil Toh Pagal Hai, for example, is a very mediocre story and it went on to break records.
However, these seven films have no reason to have flopped, and yet they did. May be Indian fans go more by emotions than logic. May be that’s how we are!