Khan began his career with appearances in several television series in the late 1980s. He made his Bollywood debut in 1992 with Deewana. Early in his career, Khan was recognised for portraying villainous roles in the films Darr (1993), Baazigar (1993) and Anjaam (1994). He then rose to prominence after starring in a series of romantic films, including Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995), Dil To Pagal Hai (1997), Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998), Mohabbatein (2000) and Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham... (2001). He earned critical acclaim for his portrayal of an alcoholic in Devdas (2002), a NASA scientist in Swades (2004), a hockey coach in Chak De! India (2007) and a man with Asperger syndrome in My Name Is Khan (2010). His highest-grossing films include the comedies Chennai Express (2013) and Happy New Year (2014). Many of his films display themes of Indian national identity and connections with diaspora communities, or gender, racial, social and religious differences and grievances. For his contributions to film, the Government of India honoured him with the Padma Shri, and the Government of France awarded him both the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and the Lgion d'honneur.
As of 2015, Khan is co-chairman of the motion picture production company Red Chillies Entertainment and its subsidiaries, and is the co-owner of the Indian Premier League cricket team Kolkata Knight Riders. He is a frequent television presenter and stage show performer. The media often label him as "Brand SRK" because of his many endorsement and entrepreneurship ventures. Khan's philanthropic endeavours have provided 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. He regularly features in listings of the most influential people in Indian culture, and in 2008, Newsweek named him one of their fifty most powerful people in the world.
Khan was born on 2 November 1965 in a Muslim family in New Delhi. He spent the first five years of his life in Mangalore, where his maternal grandfather, Ifthikar Ahmed, served as the chief engineer of the port in the 1960s. According to Khan, his paternal grandfather, Jan Muhammad, an ethnic Pathan was from Afghanistan. Shah Rukh Khan also said in his interviews that he is a Pathan from Peshawar and his entire family used to speak Hindko language at home. Khan's father, Meer Taj Mohammed Khan, was an Indian independence activist in Peshawar, British India (present-day Pakistan). As of 2010, Khan's paternal family was still living in Shah Wali Qataal area of Peshawar's Qissa Khawani Bazaar. Meer was a follower of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, and affiliated with the All Indian National Congress. He moved to New Delhi in 1948 after the partition of India. Khan's mother, Lateef Fatima, was the daughter of a senior government engineer. His parents were married in 1959. Khan described himself on Twitter as "half Hyderabadi (mother), half Pathan (father), [and] some Kashmiri (grandmother)". His paternal cousins in Peshawar claim that the family is of Hindkowan origin from Kashmir, not Pashtun, and also contradict the claim that his grandfather was from Afghanistan.
Khan grew up in the Rajendra Nagar neighbourhood of Delhi. His father had several business ventures including a restaurant, and the family lived a middle-class life in rented apartments. Khan attended St. Columba's School in central Delhi where he excelled in his studies and in sports such as hockey and football, and received the school's highest award, the Sword of Honour. In his youth, he acted in stage plays and received praise for his imitations of Bollywood actors, of which his favourites were Dilip Kumar, Amitabh Bachchan and Mumtaz. One of his childhood friends and acting partners was Amrita Singh, who became a Bollywood actress. Khan enrolled at Hansraj College (198588) to earn his bachelor's degree in Economics, but spent much of his time at Delhi's Theatre Action Group (TAG), where he studied acting under the mentorship of theatre director Barry John. After Hansraj, he began studying for a master's degree in Mass Communications at Jamia Millia Islamia, but left to pursue his acting career. He also attended the National School of Drama in Delhi during his early career in Bollywood. His father died of cancer in 1981, and his mother died in 1991 from complications of diabetes. After the death of their parents, his older sister, Shahnaz Lalarukh, born in 1960, fell into a depressed state and Khan took on the responsibility of caring for her. Shahnaz continues to live with her brother and his family in their Mumbai mansion.
Although Khan was given the birth name Shahrukh Khan, he prefers his name to be written as Shah Rukh Khan, and is commonly referred to by the acronym SRK. He married Gauri Chibber, a Punjabi Hindu, in a traditional Hindu wedding ceremony on 25 October 1991, after a six-year courtship. They have a son Aryan (born 1997) and a daughter Suhana (born 2000). In 2013, they became parents of a third child named AbRam, who was born through a surrogate mother. According to Khan, while he strongly believes in Islam, he also values his wife's religion. His children follow both religions; at home the Qur'an is situated next to the Hindu deities.