Aamir Khan turns 50 today, and the other two famed Khans shall soon follow suit. The trio of Khans, Aamir Khan, Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan, dictated the 90’s decade. They were the crème de la crème, of Bollywood in the last decade of the 20th century, and still going strong. Of course acting wise, Aamir Khan is the most evolved of the three.

Khan 50 - Aamir Khan celebrates, his 50th Birthday, a day earlier (on Friday the 13th). INSET - Aamir Khan as a kid in the 1970's.

Khan 50 – Aamir Khan celebrates, his 50th Birthday, a day earlier (on Friday the 13th).
INSET – Aamir Khan as a kid in the 1970’s.

Aamir Khan °  Shah Rukh Khan °  Salman Khan & The Nineteen Nineties
They Came * They Saw * They Conquered (and never looked back)

Aamir Khan – The Actor

Born on the 14th of March, 1965, Aamir Khan began his career, back in 70’s, as a child artiste, starring in Yaadon Ki Baaraat (1973). Then as a teenager he appeared in Holi (1984). As an adult, his first lead role was in, a modern day ‘Romeo and Juliet’ styled, Bollywood tragedy, titled, Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1988), along side Juhi Chawla. Winning the very first Filmfare award for ‘Best Debut’ (a genderless award that was introduced that year), for this  tragic love story, and nicknamed ‘QSQT-pie’ (taking a cue from the initials of the above mentioned popular love story), Aamir Khan had made it, as one of the top heartthrobs of the Indian film fraternity. And the rest is history.

LEFT: Aamir Khan in Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1988) RIGHT: Aamir Khan, seen here in his 'Birthday suit', in a scene from his latest film, PK (2014)

LEFT: Aamir Khan in Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1988)
RIGHT: Aamir Khan, seen here in his Birthday suit, in a scene from his latest film, PK (2014)

As a kid, when I saw him first in QSQT, I really liked him. But soon started to lose interest. As I grew into a teenager, in the early-mid 90’s, I felt he was just a pretty face, that my baby sister had a crush on. I happened to like Salman Khan more back then. Soon Shah Rukh Khan appeared, and Aamir Khan fell down even further, among my favourites. But in the late 90’s, while I was studying in Delhi University, Deepa Mehta’s 1947Earth (1998) was released, and voilà, Aamir Khan, proved (to me) he was more than just a pretty face. I’ve been a fan of his since, and soon, in the late 90’s itself I got to see Raakh (1989), young Aamir Khan was superb in that. The 21st century came, the Khans still ruled, but not to the same level as they did in the 1990’s. Today Aamir Khan is not just an actor, but a social activist as well.

My favourite Aamir Khan roles, include movies like, 1947Earth, Hum Hain Rahi Pyar Ke (1993), Raakh, Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India (2001) and PK (2014), to name a few. The best role he has done so far is, no doubt, that of the ‘Ice Candy man’, in 1947Earth, which is based on the novel, The Ice Candy Man by Pakistan born author, Bapsi Sidhwa (I actually bought the book back in 2012, when I last visited New Delhi, India, but I still didn’t get a chance to read it). Bapsi Sidhwa’s The Ice Candy Man is based on a true incident that occurred when the polio affected Sidhwa was a child. Sidhwa appears in the end of the movie, as the older version, of herself. 1947Earth is not just my favourite Aamir Khan film, but happens to be one of my favourite films ever.

Aamir Khan, supposedly mentioned that he still thinks of himself as being a ‘‘18 year old’’ in his mind. But he is no doubt the most mature of the Khans, so far as acting roles, and film choices are concerned (Also see my post on P.K. Are you DRUNK ????? from January 2015 (and Jalal: Caine – Khan & Bell from a couple years ago)). I have great respect for him as an actor, as well as, for his Humanitarian causes. Wish him all the best, for the next 50 years, of his life and work.

Shah Rukh Khan – Star Power   

Shah Rukh Khan, who’ll turn 50 later this year, was a virtual unknown, a television actor, whom actress Hema Malini signed in, for her Big Screen directorial debut, Dil Aashna Hai (1992). Shah Rukh’s first feature films were Dil Aashna Hai and Deewana (1992), in which he starred opposite Divya Bharti, Chamatkar (1992) and Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman (1992). Then, along side Kajol and Shilpa Shetty, he appeared in Baazigar (1993), his first anti-hero role. He soon started a trend playing the villain, who’s also the lead star. With his psychotic characters in movies like, Darr (1993), Anjaam (1994) and Ram Jaane (1995), he became a star everyone loved to hate, and loved to watch. He was a superstar. A superstar that rose in cinematic power, making the other two adored Khans, secondary to him. Shah Rukh Khan, till date, is the second most popular star, Bollywood has ever had. Second only to the Big B, the angry young man of the 1970’s & 80’s, the superstar of the millennium, Amitabh Bachchan. The Big B, is the most popular celebrity, with such a unique idolisation, that the world has ever witnessed, so far, that’s spanned five decades. No star in the world has had Mr. Bachchan’s kind of star power, for this length of time. Not Elvis Presley, not The Beatles, not Barack Obama, nobody.

LEFT: Shah Rukh Khan, during his anti-hero phase, in the early 1990's. RIGHT: Shah Rukh Khan today, all muscled up and bleached.

LEFT: Shah Rukh Khan, during his anti-hero phase, in the early 1990’s.
RIGHT: Shah Rukh Khan today, all muscled up and bleached.

I’ve been a fan of Amitabh Bachchan since I was a kid. Yet, as a teenager, in the 1990’s, Shah Rukh Khan was my favourite Bollywood actor. After all, he brought in something different. He wasn’t conventionally good looking. He had dark skin (and was still loved, besides modern Indians unfair obsession with fairness and whiter skin tones). And he was the first actor, after the Big B, to succeed, to almost that level, of hero worship, in India.

Shah Rukh Khan soon started appearing in romantic roles in movies like, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995), Yes Boss (1997), Dil To Pagal Hai (1997), Pardes (1997) and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998). By the noughties, I had grown up, and grown out, of the Shah Rukh Khan phase. His taste in film and film roles have deteriorated since. And I find it difficult to sit through most of his films anymore. With exception of a few good movies like, Veer-Zaara (2004), Swades (2004), Paheli (2005), Billu Barber (2009) and My Name Is Khan (2010), majority of his films and roles are practically the same, Shah Rukh being Shah Rukh. Post 2010, I haven’t seen anything of his that’s even worth mentioning. He is still very popular though, but the kind of star power he yielded, both as an actor and a famous personality, back in the 90’s, has blown away, no more in existence. I lost interest, in the beginning of noughties, and have not been part of the Shah Rukh craze, for the last one and half decades. He’s lost that oozing star power, and is definitely not much of an actor anymore. While even an averagely good Big B film, I might still enjoy, unless Shah Rukh, is in something really good, it will feel like a waste of time, for me.

As a Film Critic/Film Buff, I can say, that there is only one really exceptional film Shah Rukh Khan has done till date. That is, Kundan Shah’s excellent venture, Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa (1994), with Suchitra Krishnamoorthi and Deepak Tijori, for which Shah Rukh Khan won the Filmfare Critics Award. This was no doubt, his best performance ever. Of course I also enjoyed his other movie choices back in the 90’s, like, Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman, Maya Memsaab (1993), Baazigar, Darr, King Uncle (1993), DDLJ, Yes Boss, Dil Sé (1998), Hey Ram (2000), et al.

Salman Khan – Sex Appeal

Before Shah Rukh Khan, took over the lime light in the 1990’s, Salman Khan was my favourite Khan. As a kid I had watched him in Biwi Ho To Aisi (1988) and Maine Pyar Kiya (1989). He too had great star power, and back in the 90’s I liked him more than Aamir Khan as well, and Salman Khan was second only to Shah Rukh Khan. He had some really interesting comical/romantic roles, in movies like, Saajan (1991) and Hum Aapke Hain Koun…! (1994) with Madhuri Dixit, Ek Ladka Ek Ladki (1992) with Neelam, Andaz Apna Apna (1994) along side Aamir Khan, Khamoshi (1996) with Manisha Koirala, and Pyaar Kiya To Darna Kya (1998) with Kajol, to name a few.

LEFT: Salman Khan  in hey days. The hottest of the Khan's back then. RIGHT: Salman Khan today, not so cool.

LEFT: Salman Khan in hey days. The hottest of the Khan’s back then.
RIGHT: Salman Khan today, not so cool.

Yet, more than Salman Khan’s acting talent, it was his striking good looks, that made him a Bollywood superhero, idolised by many Indians till date. With his bulging muscular physique, in skin-tight jeans, and droopy dreamy eyelids, he was Bollywood’s answer Hollywood’s Sylvester Stallone. Oozing with sexuality, and nicknamed the ‘shirtless wonder’, he ruled the 90’s with his star power. But like Shah Rukh Khan, he started to fall down, both in looks and star power. His films today are unwatchable, at least a rare Shah Rukh Khan film, I might be able to sit through. Salman Khan, once a superhero, with super sex appeal, today is a total bore. Yet, he too has a great fan following in India. He’s an action hero, not an acting one.

Salman, the youngest among the trio of Khan’s, shall be the last to turn 50, towards the end of this year (in December 2015).

Amazingly ironic, back in the 90’s Aamir Khan was the actor that least interested me, with his boyish charm and chocolate hero looks. But today, Aamir Khan is one of the few actors, when it comes to Bollywood commercial films, that I happen to like the most. As I grew up, Aamir Khan too grew as an actor.

The three Khans are still going strong, but it was the 1990’s that they ruled. Aamir Khan with his chocolate boy good looks, Shah Rukh Khan with his star power and Salman Khan with his great sex appeal. Whatever happed to the 1990’s?? Can’t believe the Khans are completing their 50th year in Year 2015.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense