The reigning King & Queen of Bollywood

King Khan wasn’t born a Prince with blue blood in his veins or a silver spoon in his mouth. He was born in an average family in New Delhi to a Muslim emigre from Pehawar who tried his hand at many business ventures including a small restaurant while housing his family in a succession of rented flats. The baby was named Shahrukh at birth, which was later updated to Shah Rukh when he went into acting. His father, Hindko speaking Meer Taj Mohammed Khan, was a pro Mohandas Gandhi supporter and follower of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan of the All Indian National Congress, in Peshawar. According to Shah Rukh, his paternal grandfather, Jan Muhammad, was an ethnic Pathan from Afghanistan. However, Shah Rukh’s cousins who still live in the Shah Wali Qataal area of Qissa Khawani Bazaar in Peshawar claim that the family is of Hindko origin from Azad Kashmir, not Pathan, and also contradict the claim that his grandfather was from Afghanistan. So Khan’s tweet claiming his ethnicity is a mix of “half Hyderabadi (mother), half Pathan (father), some Kashmiri (grandmother)” may very well be a partial reinvention of his true ethnicity, perhaps to fit in with the traditional Bollywood Pathan heirarchy.

After Partition, Meer moved from Peshawar, now in Pakistan, to the Punjabi refugee neighbourhood of Rajendra Nagar, central Delhi, since he was pro-India. There he married a Hyederabadi girl, Lateef Fatima, in 1959. Their first born was a daughter named Shehnaz Lalarukh, who now lives with Shah Rukh permanently. Shah Rukh spent his primary five years in Mangalore, where his maternal grandfather, Ifthikar Ahmed, served as the chief engineer of the port in the ‘60s while it was being built. After this, Meer moved his family back to Delhi where the head of the household tragically succumbed to cancer in 1981.

His parents, Meer Taj Mohammed & Lateef Fatima Khan with elder sister, Shahnaz Lalarukh

Baby Shah Rukh

Shah Rukh attended St. Columba’s School, New Delhi. Because he excelled academically as well as at sports such as hockey and football, he received the school’s highest award, the Sword of Honour. More importantly for his future career, he acted in stage plays and was known as a teenager for his imitation of Bollywood actors like Dilip Kumar, Amitabh Bachchan and, funnily enough, Mumtaz. Amrita Singh, who became a top Bollywood actress in the ‘80s, was one the teenage friends with whom he acted.

In high school

One evening in 1984, when Shah Rukh was 18, he met 14 year old Gauri Chibber at a party where the boys and girls stood separately. She was the daughter of Punjabi-Brahmin Hindu Colonel Ramesh Chandra and Sarita Chibber, residents of the South Delhi suburb of Panchsheel Park. She attended first the Loreto Convent and then the Delhi Modern School. Boldly, Shah Rukh mustered up his courage and crossed over to the girls’ side and asked Gauri to dance.

Shah Rukh Khan confessed in an interview, “I am very shy in my personal life. I had never asked a girl out. I danced with her, she was very good. I asked for her telephone number and she was the first girl with whom I had danced or asked for their number. I felt that she is the one for me, as she had not said ‘no’ to me up till now.” He promptly asked her for a date the next day to have a soda. She assented and soon they started dating regularly.

At their wedding

Gauri was not entirely happy with Shah Rukh’s decision to join Bollywood. She even secretly wished his films would flop so they could return to Delhi where he could work for her father. “When I went to become an actor, she didn’t like it, because actors have such a reputation and also ours was an inter-religion marriage,” SRK said on The Anupam Kher Show 

Meanwhile, Shah Rukh got his Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Hansraj College in 1988, simultaneously studying at Delhi’s Theatre Action Group (TAG) under the mentorship of renowned theatre director Barry John. Gauri also got her Bachelor’s degree in History from Lady Shri Ram College and then took a six months course in fashion design and tailoring from the National Institute of Fashion Technology to join her father’s garment business.

Shah Rukh began his professional acting career in the late ‘80s by appearing in several television series, in which he started making a name for himself as critics compared his look and acting style with that of Dilip Kumar, the film thespian. But where Gauri was concerned, Shah Rukh was an insecure and possessive boyfriend who did not even like her keeping her hair open, let alone talking to other boys. He said in his defense, “I don’t know whether I am a nut but I am very intense about my love for Gauri. She’s a part of me.”

However, Gauri got fed up with this attitude. Only her mother knew of her relationship with a Muslim boy, that too a struggling actor, as she was too scared to tell her father. So when she was invited by friends to a trip to Mumbai, she left without even telling him. Suddenly, Shah Rukh felt abandoned by her and realized he didn’t want to let go. He told his mother about Gauri and his mother asked him to go and search for her. Armed with INR 10,000, Shah Rukh drove to Mumbai in his trusty, old Fiat in search of his errant girlfriend with no idea of her exact whereabouts. After much searching, in true filmi fashion, he headed to the beach knowing she would definitely visit there. There, he spied her and ran towards her. The moment the two met, they flung themselves upon each other in an embrace and started crying, realising the depth of their love.

Shah Rukh recalled in a TV interview, “I had a Fiat back then and I was dropping her home. That is when I asked her if she will marry me and went off, I didn’t even wait for her to say ‘yes’ or ‘no.’”

Gauri added, “my parents were obviously not for it because we were so young and then to take a decision to get married to a person who was going to join films and also from a different religion.”

But her brother supported her decision after warning Shah Rukh, “Don’t do anything hanky panky with my sister!” 1991 turned out to be an eventful year in his life. Shah Rukh’s mother died that year from complications from diabetes. Then, in April, he moved from Delhi to Mumbai and was signed by Hema Malini for the film Dil Aashana Hai that she produced and directed opposite Divya Bharti, in addition to signing three more films. Alone and back in New Delhi, his sister Shahnaz sank into depression. Shah Rukh and Gauri remained in touch, but found the long distance relationship hard. Gauri decided that either they should get married or break up for good. After much cajoling, she finally convinced her strict Hindu, vegetarian father to let her marry Muslim boy Shah Rukh and managed to get his blessing. They got married on 25th October, 1991 in a Hindu ceremony.

Shah Rukh Khan bought his mumbai mansion, Mannat, for just INR 15 crores (US$2.5 million) in 1995. a tourist landmark, it’s now reportedly worth a whopping INR 2000 crores (US $333 million). He was also gifted one of the most expensive homes in Dubai, a villa on Palm Jumeirah, worth US$65 million. In addition, He also owns a palatial bungalow in Delhi and a GB£20 million flat near the Dorchester on Park lane, mayfair, London. The second richest movie star in the world, SRK is worth…wait for it…$600 million

Shah Rukh reminisced on fellow actor Anupam Kher’s TV chat show, “I started shooting in June and in October we got married. Our honeymoon was on the sets of Dil Aashana Hai.” The young couple set up home in a small, rented apartment in Mumbai.
Shah Rukh’s debut film turned out to be Deewana, releasing in June 1992, in which he was a supporting actor. The film’s leads were Rishi Kapoor and Divya Bharti. It became the second highest grossing film of the year, launching his film career. He was awarded the Filmfare Best Male Debut Award for his performance. The same year, he also starred in Chamatkar and the comedy Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman opposite Juhi Chawla, a hit pairing. The roles he played were similar in that they were full of energy and enthusiasm. Film critic Arnab Ray of Daily News and Analysis wrote that Shah Rukh brought a new kind of acting “sliding down stairs on a slab of ice, cartwheeling, somersaulting, lips trembling, eyes trembling, bringing to the screen the kind of physical energy … visceral, intense, maniacal one moment and cloyingly boyish the next.”

The next year, he played villainous anti-hero roles in the hits, Darr, in which he plays an obsessive lover, and Baazigar, in which he plays a murderer. In Yash Chopra’s Darr, which was the first of his many collaborations with the filmmaker and his company Yash Raj Films, Shah Rukh’s stammering portrayal and the use of the phrase “I love you, K-k-k-Kiran” became memorable and popular with audiences. He received a nomination for the Filmfare Award for Best Performance in a Negative Role, also known as the Best Villain Award, for this role. In Baazigar, Shah Rukh plays an ambiguous avenger who murders his girlfriend, shocking Indian audiences and turning the standard Bollywood film formula on its head. In The Cambridge Companion to Modern Indian Culture, Sonal Khullar called the character “the consummate anti-hero.” Cast for the first time opposite newcomer Kajol, he won his first Filmfare Award for Best Actor. The Shah Rukh-Kajol pairing has been so successful over the years, that two decades plus later, they are still playing the leads in films together. They have starred in nine films together to date.

With his star in the rise, in 1995 Shah Rukh starred in a total of seven films, the first of which was Rakesh Roshan’s melodramatic thriller Karan Arjun. Co-starring Salman Khan and Kajol, it became the second-highest-grossing film of the year in India.

Aryan has dated Amitabh Bachchan’s granddaughter  Navya Naveli Nanda

The highest grossing film of the year and one of the most successful Indian films of all time is the romcom, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995) opposite Kajol. Written and directed by Aditya Chopra, Yash’s son and later husband of actress Rani Mukherjee, the film’s plot revolves around two young non-resident Indians (NRIs), who fall in love during a vacation through Europe with their friends. Though Shah Rukh was initially hesitant to portray the role of a lover, the audience loved him in this film as a “romantic hero” so much that it became the longest-running film in the history of Indian cinema. It won a record of 10 Filmfare Awards, the most for a single film at that time, including the second of Shah Rukh’s Best Actor Awards, as well as winning the National Film Award for Best Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment. Its soundtrack also became one of the most popular albums of the ‘90s. Film critic Raja Sen said, “Khan gives a fabulous performance, redefining the lover for the 1990s with great panache. He’s cool and flippant, but sincere enough to appeal to the [audience]. The performance itself is, like the best in the business, played well enough to come across as effortless, as non-acting.”

After Gauri’s brief foray into show business with her hosting gig on weekly Hindi music countdown show, Oye, for MTV India behind her and with Shah Rukh’s star status secure, the couple decided it was finally time for them to start a family and in 1997 their son Aryan was born.

Aryan, now 19, is a mini-me of his famous father. He graduated from the prestigious Sevenoaks School, Kent, half an hour from London. In his own right, he has won the Maharashtra Taekwondo competition in 2010 and was presented with the black belt, the highest achievement level in the martial arts. He is also a budding actor. While Shah Rukh won for best dubbing voice male animation, for Hum Lajawab Hai, the dubbed Hindi version of the Oscar winning cartoon feature movie The Incredibles, Aryan won the award for best dubbing child voice artist male for it in the children’s category. He is also rumored to have dated Amitabh Bachchan’s granddaughter Navya Naveli Nanda. Aryan is currently enrolled in the University of Southern California where he is studying filmmaking. His godfather is fittingly Karan Johar.

Red hot in an Herve Leger bandage dress, Suhana can’t wait to be a Bollywood star

Suhana in a Manish Malhotra ghagra choli attending the Bachchan’s Diwali bash

Shah Rukh’s next big blockbuster was the song and dance vehicle Dil To Pagal Hai (1997) with Madhuri Dixit and Karisma Kapoor, the highest grossing Indian film of the year worldwide, followed next year by Karan Johar’s directorial debut Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998) Shah Rukh’s fourth film opposite Kajol and a coming of age romcom drama. The third highest-grossing Indian film of the year, it’s the first Bollywood film to enter the UK cinema top ten.

In 2000, the couple had their daughter Suhana. Now 16 and enrolled at Dirubhai Ambani International School, she is a pint sized fashionista, standing at 5’2”, a footballer, playing football tournaments for her school, and even captaining the U-14 team. She loves dancing, and performed in the Pop video of Shiamak Dawar’s Summer Funk show. She also enjoys writing, winning an award at Katha national story writing competition. Shah Rukh has proudly stated in many interviews that Suhana is desperately waiting to finish her studies and join films. She too has her father’s looks, especially his distinctive nose. Shah Rukh plans to send her to the U.S. for college to study acting.

Next Shah Rukh starred opposite Amitabh Bachchan in Aditya Chopra’s Mohabbatein (2000), and Karan Johar’s family drama Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham (2001), which SRK cites as a turning point in his career, as he held his own against the veteran actor who stars in both films. Amitabh’s role in both is that of an authoritarian figure, the movie shows ideological struggles between the two men. Shah Rukh was awarded his second Filmfare Critics Award for Best Actor for Mohabbatein, while Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, also starring Kajol remained the top-grossing Indian production of all time in the overseas market for the next five years.

2001 brought a reversal of fortune for SRK. Shah Rukh’s production company Dreamz Unlimited produced Santosh Sivan’s historical epic Asoka, a partly fictionalised account of the life of emperor Ashoka, starring Shah Rukh in the titular role. The film was screened at the Venice Film Festival and the 2001 Toronto International Film Festival, but despite opening with much fanfare, it performed poorly at the box office. So heavy was the loss incurred that Shah Rukh was forced to close Then in December, Shah Rukh suffered a spinal injury while performing an action sequence for a special appearance in Krishna Vamsi’s Shakti: The Power. He was diagnosed with a prolapsed disc, which caused him severe pain during shooting. His condition worsened to the point that he finally had to undergo the complicated anterior cervical discectomy and fusion surgery at Wellington Hospital, London in 2003. After this, Shah Rukh has reduced his workload and limited the number of film roles he accepts per year.

Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s remake of period romantic tragedy Devdas (2002), the most expensive Bollywood film ever made at the time, starred Shah Rukh in the title role of a rebellious and love lorne alcoholic opposite Ashwariya Rai and Madhuri Dixit. The film became an instant classic and earned numerous awards including 10 Filmfare Awards, with Best Actor for Shah Rukh and even a BAFTA Award for Best Film Not in the English Language.

 “That she is stylish, enigmatic, and poised is known, but at the shoot we saw another side of her. Even in the frames she shares with Shah Rukh, she holds her own impressively” wrote Priya Tanna, editor of Vogue India

Karan Johar’s Kal Ho Naa Ho (2003), a comedy-drama set in New York City, starring Shah Rukh, Jaya Bachchan, Saif Ali Khan, and Preity Zinta, became the second-highest-grossing film domestically and the top-grossing Bollywood film in external markets that year. His tear jerker portrayal of a man with a fatal heart disease won over the sentimental audience and critics alike. In the 2003 edition of the Encyclopedia of Hindi Cinema, it was written that Shah Rukh “defied the image of the conventional hero in both these films and created his own version of the revisionist hero.”

Then, conflict broke out between Shah Rukh, Juhi Chawla and Aziz Mirza, all partners in Dreamz Unlimited over the failure to cast Juhi in their 2003 production of Chalte Chalte instead of the much younger Rani Mukherjee, and they parted ways, despite the film’s success. Dreamz Unlimited was disbanded and gave birth to Red Chillies Entertainment with Gauri emerging as producer (uptill now the production house has released nine films). In the company’s first production, he starred in choreographer Farah Khan’s directorial debut, the action comedy masala film Main Hoon Na opposite Sushmita Sen, a fictionalised account of India–Pakistan relations. The film is the story of Indian army Major who becomes embroiled in the events to ensure that “Project Milap,” the releasing of civilian captives on either side of the border of India and Pakistan, can take place as a sign of trust and peace between the two nations. Perhaps because of his familial links with Pakistan, the film consciously moves away from the stereotypical portrayal of Pakistan as a villainous country and shows the Indo-Pakistani conflict from a neutral point of view. In Yash Chopra’s romance, Veer-Zaara, Shah Rukh plays an Indian Air Force pilot who falls in love with a Pakistani woman, played by Preity Zinta. The film, screened at the 55th Berlin Film Festival to critical praise, was the highest earning film of 2004 in India, while Main Hoon Na was the second-highest earner. So Shah Rukh was ruling the box office with both the highest and second highest grosser. Is it any surprise then that he became the reigning King of Bollywood?

AbRam was born via surrogacy

Shah Rukh’s third collaboration with Karan Johar was the romantic drama Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna (2006), the story of two unhappily married people in New York City who begin an extramarital affair. The film, featuring an ensemble cast of Amitabh Bachchan, Preity Zinta, Abhishek Bachchan, Rani Mukherji and Kirron Kher, was India’s highest-grossing film in the overseas market. His role in this as well as in Don, a remake, earned him Best Actor nominations at the Filmfare Awards, though critics negatively compared his portrayal to that of Amitabh Bachchan in the original film.

Shah Rukh Khan bought his mumbai mansion, Mannat, for just INR 15 crores (US$2.5 million) in 1995. a tourist landmark, it’s now reportedly worth a whopping INR 2000 crores (US $333 million). He was also gifted one of the most expensive homes in Dubai, a villa on Palm Jumeirah, worth US$65 million. In addition, He also owns a palatial bungalow in Delhi and a GB£20 million flat near the Dorchester on Park lane, mayfair, London. The second richest movie star in the world, SRK is worth…wait for it…$600 million

In 2007, Shah Rukh revisited his hockey skills for his portrayal of a disgraced hockey player who coaches the Indian women’s national hockey team to World Cup success in Yash Raj Films’ semi-fictional Chak De! India. Critic Bhaichand Patel stated that Shah Rukh essentially portrayed himself as a “cosmopolitan, liberal, Indian Muslim.” For this, he won another Filmfare Award for Best Actor. Rajeev Masand of CNN-IBN critiqued that his performance was “without any of his typical trappings, without any of his trademark quirks,” portraying the character “like a real flesh-and-blood human being.” Filmfare magazine included his performance in their 2010 issue of the Top 80 Iconic Performances.
Shah Rukh starred alongside Arjun Rampal and Deepika Padukone, in her debut role, in Farah Khan’s reincarnation melodrama Om Shanti Om, in which he plays ‘70s junior artiste who is reborn as a 2000s era superstar. The film became the highest grossing Indian motion picture of 2007. Khalid Mohammed, film critic for Hindustan Times wrote, “the enterprise belongs to Shah Rukh Khan, who tackles comedy, high drama and action with his signature style—spontaneous and intuitively intelligent.”

Receiving his honorary degree from University of Edinburgh, Scotland

In 2008, Shah Rukh bought ownership rights for the Kolkata Knight Riders team in the Twenty20 cricket tournament Indian Premier League (IPL) in partnership with Juhi Chawla and her husband Jay Mehta for USD 75 million. The team’s performance improved over time, and they finally became the champions in 2012 and 2014. To enhance the team’s brand, Shah Rukh himself performed at the opening ceremony of the 2011 season, dancing to Tamil songs. In 2013, he entertained the crowd alongside Katrina Kaif, Deepika Padukone and Pitbull at the cricket staduim.

Gauri also remained in the spotlight by appearing in a TV commercial for the home furnishings brand D’decor along with Shah Rukh in 2013. The next year, the couple walked the ramp together for Karan Johar’s debut fashion sown at the HDIL India Couture Week 2009.

Celebrating Kolkata Knight’s IPL win with Shoaib Akhtar

My Name Is Khan (2010), Shah Rukh’s fourth successful collaboration with Karan Johar and his sixth with Kajol, is a true story about the prejudice against Islam in the U.S. after the 11 September attacks. His character is a Muslim suffering from mild Asperger syndrome that sets out on a journey across America to meet the country’s president. Shah Rukh spent several months researching his role by reading books, watching videos and talking to people affected by the condition. My Name is Khan became one of the highest grossing Bollywood films of all time outside India and earned Khan his eighth Filmfare Award for Best Actor, equaling Dilip Kumar’s record of most wins in the category. Jay Wiesenberger wrote in Variety how Khan portrayed the Asperger’s sufferer with “averted eyes, springy steps, [and] stuttered repetitions of memorized texts”, believing it to have been a “standout performance sure to receive the Autism Society’s gold seal of approval.”

Furthermore, over the years, Shah Rukh has systematically played roles that “present NRI identity in global Bollywood,” earning him a billion fans the world over. ”

Shah Rukh and Gauri’s lavish neo classical Bandra bungalow, Mannat has been done up by Gauri in a myriad of styles. While the formal entertaining area of drawing and dining rooms are Louis XIV inspired with much use of gilt and heavy, ornate curtains, the lounge has exposed brickwork displaying Art. You can tell that for better or for worse no expense has been spared and the house is meant to impress the viewer. In the home, notably the Quran can be seen lying next to the statues of the Hindu deities.

Emboldened by her questionable success in doing up her own splendid home, in 2010 Gauri partnered with Hrithik Roshan’s ex-wife Susanne Khan to design exclusive interior projects. Their first project was a 60,000 square foot mansion Vadodara. In 2012, they launched a line of furniture at Susanne’s home store in Mumbai – The Charcoal Project. In an interview with Vogue India, she said that she chose interior design because of her interest in art, “I started off as an artist in school with various sketches. I continued that as a hobby for many years, and I think that is where my designs come from.”

Shah Rukh’s third child AbRam was born in 2013 via surrogacy, since Gauri was well over 40 by this time. The birth mother is not known and, to quell public curiosity, Shah Rukh is most protective of this child who was born premature and spent a lot of time in the hospital after birth. All three kids have been brought up practicing both their parent’s religions.

After this, SRK starred in the hits Chennai Express (2013) Happy New Year (2014), his own production Dilwale (2015) yet again opposite Kajol, and Fan (2016) in which his grand mansion Mannat appears. Raees (2017) is this year’s upcoming release opposite the charming Mahira Khan. He has appeared in more than 80 Bollywood films to date, and won 14 Filmfare Awards. In terms of audience size and income, he has been described as one of the most successful film stars in the world. For his contributions to film, the Government of India honored him with the Padma Shri, and the Government of France awarded him both the Ordre des Arts et des Letters and the Légion d’honneur. He also has countless endorsement deals, earning him the nickname, Brand SRK. His philanthropic efforts include health care and disaster relief, and he was honoured with UNESCO’s Pyramide con Marni award in 2011 for his support of children’s education. In 2015, he received an honorary degree from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland.

Shah Rukh is one of the wealthiest celebrities in India, topping the Forbes India’s Celebrity 100 List in 2012, 2013 and 2015, his wealth being estimated at US$600 million. He owns several properties in India and abroad, including a GB£20 million apartment in central London, and a villa on the Palm, Jumeirah in Dubai. He was named by Newsweek as one of their fifty most powerful people globally in 2008. His wax statue is at six of the Madame Tussaud’s museums around the world.

Speaking of his success, Shah Rukh said in an interview, “Such great things have happened to such a normal guy like me. I am a nobody who shouldn’t have been able to do all this but I have done it. I tell everyone that there’s this myth I work for; there is this myth called Shahrukh Khan and I am his employee. I have to live up to that … I’ll do it, I am an actor. But I can’t start believing in this myth.”

“We have known each other for so long, we have surpassed a stage,” he said regarding his relationship with Gauri on Koffee with Karan. “One of the stages that we have passed is that we don’t need to sit under a moonlit night. I think just passing each other across from the bedroom to the living room is romantic. Love is in the air. We have wonderful children who are a proof that we have a wild, loud, screaming romance going on in the house all day long.”

They sure seem like a rock solid couple at least outwardly despite their starry life with its myriad of hazards and pitfalls.

Good Times


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