On Sunday night, the eve of Shah Rukh Khan’s 50th birthday, thousands of people stood outside his Mumbai villa, posters and placards in hand, anxiously waiting for a glimpse of one of the biggest actors in the world. And when at midnight Khan stepped out on to his balcony to greet them, the crowds broke out in a cheer. Those who couldn’t be there, uploaded photos on social media and tweeted affectionate messages to the actor. Khan, who has starred in several box-office hits in his 25-year career, has managed to hang on to the title Bollywood ka Badshah (King of Bollywood). We look at 10 reasons why he remains top of the game.
1 He is one of the richest actors in the world
The young man who made his debut in 1988 with the television TV series, Fauji (Soldier), is now the world's second richest actor. When he tried to break into Bollywood, actresses weren't exactly falling over themselves to star alongside him. Today, starlets less than half his age want to romance him on screen, such is his charisma. So it's no surprise that Khan actually makes more than big Hollywood stars such as Tom Cruise and Johnny Depp, and only comes second to American comedian Jerry Seinfeld on the list of top earning actors (Wealth-X's Hollywood and Bollywood Rich List, 2014). Rumour has it that he charges nearly Dh67,000 per minute for a public appearance. The actor's personal fortune is estimated at £350m (Dh1.9 billion) from starring in films, endorsing a variety of brands, public appearances, private performances and concerts.
2 He is India's most-loved poster boy
Nothing spells "having made it" more boldly than gracing covers of some of most popular international magazines. And Khan has made it to several. He was the first Indian male actor to make the cover of Time magazine, for their 2004 special report Asia's Heroes 20 under 40. Last year, he became the first Indian celebrity to feature on the cover of Forbes Middle East, topping their list of Top Indians in the Arab World. The actor, who was featured in the magazine for his contribution to the entertainment industry, flew down to Dubai for the launch of the edition in May.
3 He is Bollywood's biggest romantic hero
Every self-respecting Indian can quote a dialogue from Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge (DDLJ, 1995), the film that shot him to fame. Kids growing up in the 90s ended up with a rather impractical view on love, thanks to Raj (Khan) and Simran (Kajol). With his floppy hair, piercing eyes and mischievous smile, King Khan caught the fancy of thousands of young girls, who still hold on to posters from the film. DDLJ is Bollywood's longest-running movie, and you can still catch a matinée show at the Maratha Mandir theatre in Mumbai today. In fact, when the theatre decided to scrap the movie from its roster earlier this year, the outcry from the masses forced the cinema management to reverse the decision.
4 He has global appeal
When My Name is Khan was announced as part of the movie line-up at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2012, tickets sold out in five seconds after being auctioned on eBay for a whopping €1,000 each. Khan's fandom is such that it surpasses geographical boundaries. A German newspaper once stated that the Bollywood superstar was as popular as the Pope. SRK Universe, one of the actor's biggest online fan clubs, has close to 2 million followers worldwide.
5 He is a good Samaritan
Khan manages to balance his arrogant demeanour with a truckload of charity on the side. In 2011, he received the Pyramide con Marni Unesco award for his charitable work. He's been known to work with Make a Wish Foundation regularly to grant the wishes of terminally ill children who want to meet him, even spending quality time with them at his residence. He often shares the spoils from the success of his films with the employees of his production house Red Chillies Entertainment. In 2009 and 2012, the actor "adopted" about 17 impoverished Indian villages and usually donates the proceeds from his concerts towards victims of natural disasters. He was quoted in the Guardian as saying: "I follow the Quran, which says if you do charity for a reason, it's not charity."
6 He is not loathe to reveal his private sorrows
Khan reveals much about himself on social media, and sometimes in interviews. He has publicly admitted to crying in his bathroom for days, when his cricket team Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) tanked in the first few seasons of the Indian Premiere League. He went on record to state that it was “the worst phase” of his life. KKR, which he owns with actress Juhi Chawla and her husband, Jay Mehta, managed to win the trophy in 2012 and 2014.
"If you win, then a documentary will be made on you. So I would say one must go and win," he said in a four-part documentary Living With KKR, which aired on Discovery Channel in February last year.
Before that, Khan was the subject of London-based writer and director Nasreen Munni Kabir's documentary The Inner and Outer World of Shah Rukh Khan, for the BBC's Channel 4. He opened up his life, work and 2004 Temptations concert tour in Europe and the United States to cameras.
7 He is in Madame Tussauds
Want a selfie with Khan? Head to Madame Tussauds in London and pose beside the life-size wax figure of him. No one will know the difference. After Bollywood superstars Amitabh Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan were bestowed that honour, Khan's wax figure was next to join the museum in 2007. Khan said that it had been his lifelong dream to be immortalised in wax and "meet my very own Madame Tussauds double". Trivia alert: his upcoming movie Fan has become the first film to be shot on the Madame Tussauds museum premises this year.
8 He has a flower named after him
A unique red-orange blooming orchid in Singapore was named Ascocenda Shahrukh Khan about 10 years ago. The flower grows beside Dendrobium Amitabh Bachchan at Singapore’s National Orchid Garden.
9 He is a man of many awards
Khan isn’t called the most bankable actor in Bollywood for nothing. The actor has numbers and awards to back the claim. Along with Bollywood legend Dilip Kumar, Shah Rukh Khan is the only other actor to have won eight Filmfare awards, making him the undisputed top actor in the industry. Khan also holds the record for the highest number of Best Actor nominations in a single year.
10 He is a family man
In an industry where makeups and break-ups are a mainstay, Khan has maintained a squeaky-clean image. He is seen as a faultless husband (he is married to entrepreneur Gauri Khan) and is an overindulgent father to Aryan, Suhana and AbRam. What makes him great at it? He doesn’t shy away from crediting his wife for his success and makes it a point to celebrate all milestones with his family.