By Preeti Vangani Nov. 02, 2019
Shah Rukh introduced us to the world of see-through shirts, and if his matching fluorescent T-shirt and track pant sets in “Chance Pe Dance Maarle” from Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi didn’t inspire the philosophy of athleisure, I don’t know what did.
If you’re a Shah Rukh Khan fan, chances are that you have your own love story with him. Mine started when I was 12. It was the evening of Ganpati Visarjan and I sat among my rowdy co-operative society’s friends, aunties and uncles in an open truck, as was the yearly tradition, to transport our building’s Ganpati from Wadala to Shivaji Park. As the truck started up to the cries of “Ganpati Bappa Morya” and we were about to start our en-route Antakshari battle, one of the older kids announced that SRK was just seen coming out of the Domestic Airport and that someone had shot him in the heart. Reader, lest you forget, there were no cell phones on that truck to verify if this was indeed fake news.
So within minutes of hearing about this tragedy, my face was drenched in tears, fingers remained crossed on both hands and my face was buried in a neighbour’s lap. I squeezed my eyes shut and sang all the SRK songs I knew quietly to myself, in the hope that their characteristic love-laced-escapism palette would fix the apparent bullet hole piercing my hero’s heart. When we returned after having drowned the seven-footed Ganesha, it had already been four hours of us conjecturing which hospital they must’ve taken the real God of Love to. It was then that we found out that the piece of “news” was after all, a rumour or in other words, God had heard my prayers. Since that year, I’ve been celebrating the first week of November, which marks his birthday, as SRK appreciation week. I re-watch my favourite SRK films, run song marathons on full blast at home and soak myself in the sweet candy-myth of his characters.
When in school, I’d also gotten my mother to buy me the iconic electric blue-green Polo Sport T-shirt and the “COOL” necklace from Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and paraded around in it looking for shooting stars. But that is still one of Shah Rukh’s more decent picks. Over time, his costumes got progressively sillier, making it harder to bargain with my mom about why they’d make for excellent everyday wear.
Today, as Shah Rukh Khan turns 54 and I croon and bray through my favourite tunes, I think of all the outfits in which he looked brazenly silly yet unmistakably lovable – clothes I’d love to own and adorn, be flamboyantly outrageous in, and bounce around freely, without a care in the world. Just like he does.
1. There’s the time when Shah Rukh Khan dressed up as a “commoner” in “O Re Kanchi” from the 2001 epic historical drama, Asoka. Despite a costume which looks like it was made by cutting holes in a gunny bag and then somehow redeemed with a red dupatta (more chaddar than dupatta), he flexes serious muscle to show us who’s king.
The title credits of Kuch Kuch Hota Hai summed up the spirit of the superstar pretty accurately when they credited him with “Thrills by Shah Rukh Khan”.
2. Disrupting the world of shirts and questioning their basic utility itself, Shah Rukh introduced us to the world of see-through shirts, that would go on to be a cult classic. If SRK in transparent appreciate-my-nipples white shirt from “Suraj Hua Maddham” isn’t the world’s biggest peace sign, I don’t know what is. Your move, United Nations.
3. Is it a crow? Is it a giant trash bag? Nope, it’s SRK in and as Baazigar (1993). And just in case you weren’t clear which superhero he was, there’s upper-case lettering on the cape to prove it.
4. Pretty certain that this philosophy called athleisure came to be after SRK who as Surinder Sahni who as Raj decided to rock our lives with these matching fluorescent T-shirt and track pant sets in “Chance Pe Dance Maarle” from Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi (2008).
Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, 2008 Yash Raj Films
Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, 2008
Yash Raj Films
5. Here he is, as the bad twin, in the song “Ladna Jhagadna” from Duplicate (1998) looking like a giant, metallic condom, opening up the earliest gates to what would much later become a full-blown trend.
6. “Dhoom Tana” from Om Shanti Om (2007), an almost six-minute long sequence, is a number I can watch over and over. Big props to SRK for being the most romantic pirate there was in a puffy shirt. Dear Johnny Depp, consider this a formal threat to Jack Sparrow’s masculinity.
Om Shanti Om, 2007 Red Chillies Entertainment
Om Shanti Om, 2007
Red Chillies Entertainment
7. How can anyone look dashing and desirable while having all the colours of the rainbow splattered on them, you ask? I give you “Tu Mere Saamne” from Darr (1993). This shirt must have been one of his favourites because as per my intricate research you can spot SRK wearing the exact same shirt in a later sequence of Baazigar’s title track, also released in 1993. Suddenly, the pressure to not repeat outfits has been lifted off your minds, hasn’t it?
Darr, 1993 Yash Raj Films
Yash Raj Films
Baazigar, 1993 Eros Labs
8. My hold of fashion is so poor that it is a complete mystery to me if the one-leg-front-only patchwork jeans SRK wears in the deliriously catchy “Yeh Kaali Kaali Aankhein” is the fruit of low costume budget or is indeed premium couture. I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt and assume, like my dad says, “Kapda khatam ho gaya hoga uss type ka.”
9. Lo and behold, the black cape returns. This time in “Baadshah O Baadshah” from (you guessed it) the 1999 film, Baadshah. My math can be very wrong but I am certain that this skeleton outfit is missing a few bones.
Baadshah, 1999 Venus Worldwide Entertainment Pvt. Ltd.
Venus Worldwide Entertainment Pvt. Ltd.
The title credits of Kuch Kuch Hota Hai summed up the spirit of the superstar pretty accurately when they credited him with “Thrills by Shah Rukh Khan”. Thank you for being the thrill that makes being a fan still worthwhile. Here’s wishing you a joyous 54th birthday. May it be as outrageous as the nation’s craze for you.
Preeti Vangani is a writer, poet and spoken word artist. Fuelled by films and chai, she is currently an MFA (Poetry) student at the University of San Francisco.