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4-min read

Fauji, Veer-Zaara, Main Hoon Na: Shah Rukh Khan's Obsession With On-Screen Defence Characters

Recent reports suggest that Khan’s next production, too, will bring to celluloid Operation Khukri, the massive multinational operation that involved India, Ghana, Britain and Nigeria.

Kriti Tulsiani | News18.com@sleepingpsyche2

Updated:May 10, 2017, 12:41 PM IST
Shah Rukh Khan may have stepped into the shoes of a college student, a psychiatrist, an RJ, a superstar, a dedicated serviceman and a band member, but it is his repeated portrayal of an army man that has caught the fancy of many. The actor has swayed away as many fans with his army acts as he has done with his perpetual king-of-romance image.

Recent reports suggest that Khan’s next production, too, will bring to celluloid Operation Khukri, the massive multinational operation that involved India, Ghana, Britain and Nigeria. Launched in the United Nations Assistance Mission In Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL), the operation aimed at breaking the two-month long siege laid by the armed cadres of RUF around two companies of 5/8th Gorkha Rifles Infantry Battalion Group. As the actor gears up to take another such role, we take a quick look at some of his past association with the militia-like characters.

Back in 1988, when a young suave-looking actor made his television debut with TV series Fauji, no one guessed what his film industry reign would look like. The show outlined the journey of young men undergoing a commando training in the army school. It highlighted their transition from entering as irresponsible lads to turning the mature, dedicated army officers ready to sacrifice their life for the nation. Abhimanyu Rai, a cigarette-smoking uniform clad, trying hard to get a girl’s attention, was Khan’s first baby step to stardom. He impressed the audience and critics alike and ended up landing more projects – not just small screen but big screen too.

The second time he wore uniform for a big screen venture, was in 1996 when he was cast alongside the likes of Sridevi and Danny Denzongpa in Raam Shetty’s directorial Army. The film featured Khan as Major Arjun Singh, a dutiful army officer and a homely brother-in-law to an acclaimed jailer. Even though the film follows the aftermath of Arjun’s death conspired by a gangster and his wife Geeta’s (Sri Devi) revenge for the same, it added another uniform-clad role to the actor’s filmography.

In April 2004, the actor adorned the army attire again for Farah Khan’s directorial debut Main Hoon Na. Khan played the role of Army Major Ram Prasad Sharma who got embroiled in the mission to release the captivated prisoners on both sides of the border. The character gave Khan a chance to flaunt his action moves while maintaining the usual charm of his personality. The film saw Khan going undercover as a student to protect his boss’ daughter and with a greater purpose to accomplish ‘Project Milaap’. The film took in account both personal and professional life of Khan’s character and its fine detailing and emotional layering, made Khan’s performance a memorable one. The film, starring Sushmita Sen, Zayed Khan, Boman Irani, Kiron Kher and Amrita Rao, left the cash registers ringing at box office with its intriguing plot, well-thought twists and turns and fine performance by the cast.

The same year saw Khan experimenting with an army role again after a gap of over 6 months and this time, opposite Preity Zinta in Veer Zaara. The fictional love story, that’ll be remembered for years to come, featured Khan as an Indian Air Force pilot, squadron leader Veer Pratap Singh, who falls in love with an affluent woman from across the border, Zara Hayat Khan. Set with the backdrop of political and social tensions amid the two nations, the film managed to add shades to Khan’s character. The plot saw Khan going from an ever-energetic young officer, devoted to saving lives, to an old frail man, recalling his past life while sitting in a prison cell. While Yash Chopra's directorial had many high points, it’s the actor’s ‘Kaidi no 786’ tag and his monologue towards the end that made it a milestone in Khan’s career.

Co-incidentally, Yash Chopra’s next directorial after a gap of 8 years, also saw Khan sporting a uniform-clad character. Jab Tak Hai Jaan, that starred Katrina Kaif and Anushka Sharma alongside the actor, had Khan playing a bomb-disposal expert, Samar Anand. The film mainly delineated the story of Anushka’s character (Akira Rai) getting hands on Samar’s first-hand account of being a struggling immigrant in London and later to his breezy romance with Katrina’s character (Meera Thappar).

In his cameo in Bhootnath, the actor played a naval officer. The story revolved around an old father’s kindered spirit, who haunted the family house and longed for the love of his family members. But when new family moves in, the spirit finds solace in a young boy, who happens to be Khan’s son in the film.

(Get detailed and live results of each and every seat in the Lok Sabha elections and state Assembly elections in Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim to know which candidate/party is leading or trailing and to know who has won and who has lost and by what margin. Our one-of-its-kind Election Analytics Centre lets you don a psephologist’s hat and turn into an election expert. Know interesting facts and trivia about the elections and see our informative graphics. Elections = News18)
| Edited by: Kriti Tulsiani
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