Bollywood and the Indian Film Industry has seen several stars and superstars since it’s inception… From the likes of Shammi Kapoor, Raj Kapoor, Rajesh Khanna, Amitabh Bachchan to the likes of Ranbir Kapoor, Ranveer Singh, Priyanka Chopra, Deepika Padukone, Anushka Sharma , Rajkummar Rao, Ayushmann Khurrana, the Hindi Film Industry has seen several ‘stars’ and ‘superstars’.
But in this entire journey of Bollywood since it’s inception till today, the industry has never witnessed three actors in the same tenure sharing the same surname at the same time who have all achieved similar amount of magnanimous success and fame individually.. The result of this in the financial growth of the film industry cannot be debated.
While Aamir Khan came into the spotlight first among the 3 Khans, Salman Khan and Shah Rukh Khan followed soon respectively to climb the ladder of success and super stardom.
Aamir Khan has always been regarded as the ‘Perfectionist’ who is infamous for running his brain time and again to bring the best ‘content’ forward. Time and again over the years he has come up with movies which have enabled the audience to ‘think’ about certain issues. Aamir Khan eventually became the other name of ‘trust and credibility’ where fans knew that if it is an Aamir Khan movie which comes once in a year, it’s a sure-shot hit with great ‘content’. Be it Dil Chahta Hai, Rang De Basanti, Ghajini, Fanaa, 3 Idiots, Taare Zameen Par, PK, Dangal etc, the role of these movies to enhance Aamir Khan’s credibility factor as a superstar has been IMMENSE.
To talk about Salman Khan, his eternal macho and heroic on screen image has made him receptive to a different kind of love and fandom altogether. The shirtless and bold initiative in ‘O O Jaane Jana’ was undoubtedly a gamechanger for ‘Bhai’ as people started going crazy after his physique which made Salman Khan a household name in the country where mothers would often use ‘Bhai’ as a tool to make their children have their milk by affectionately telling them something like ‘Beta agar Salman jaisa body chahiye toh dudh pilo.’ Soon Salman eventually became a ‘rage’ who became the producer’s first choice for any action oriented movie which will guarantee them return on investments. Salman was a huge star.. Although the period between 2001-2008 was a difficult one for him where instead of doing the kind of movies he should be doing, he was doing movies for the sake of relations and friendships. But Salman the man he is realized soon that his fans couldn’t care any less of his friendships within the industry as all they want to see on screen is Bhai’s larger than life image which they were crazy for. But Bhai made a comeback with ‘Dus Ka Dum’ on tv and ‘Wanted’ and since then, there was no looking back. Dabangg, Bodyguard, Ready, Ek Tha Tiger, Dabangg 2, Jai Ho, Kick, Bajrangi Bhaijaan, Sultan, Tiger Zinda Hai kept setting records after records in Bollywood with respect to footfalls and BO collections and Bhai became the ‘Gamechanger’ of the Indian Film Industry. Till 2017, ‘Tubelight’ was the only movie of ‘Bhai’ which failed miserably but still managed to earn more than 100 crores in the BO.
Shah Rukh Khan on the other hand has been the eternal lover boy of Yash Raj and Dharma who over the years has taught us how to ‘love’ and made people actually believe that ‘Any girl can fall in love with you if you spread your arms like SRK’. Movies like Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Baadshah, Baazigar, Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, Kal Ho Na Ho, Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Ghum, Chakde India, Om Shanti Om, Don, Don 2, My Name is Khan, Chennai Express etc have played a humongous role in making Shah Rukh Khan what he is today.
Although all 3 of them have enjoyed a longer run of success over the years than failures owing to the smart choices they made for themselves, all of them had faced occasional failures. Aamir Khan’s ‘Mangal Pandey’ , ‘Talaash’ ‘Secret Superstar ‘ opened to the audience with little to no liking for the films.. Every time he was written off after these movies, he came back harder. When Ra One failed, Shah Rukh Khan came with a Chennai Express to answer critics who questioned that his films missed the ‘Entertainment Quotient’. Although movies like ‘Happy New Year’, ‘Jab Tak Hai Jaan’, ‘Dilwale’ weren’t appreciated by the audience that well, they all managed to earn money the only exception being ‘Fan’ which was a BO disaster. Although SRK is still to get a comeback film which is both critically and commercially appreciated by the audience, the fact that people still go gaga and crazy over Shah Rukh Khan is something he hasn’t earned overnight. So if the super stardom he has earned isn’t overnight, how can a couple of BO disasters decide his fate later?
Salman Khan is possibly the one among the 3 who has tasted the flavour of success the most among the 3 of them over the years. With all his movies earning more than 100 crores 200 crores including the disastrous ‘Prem Ratan Dhan Payo’ just by the name of ‘Bhai’ , he too has shown that ‘Super stardom if not gained overnight doesn’t disappear overnight’ too just because of a failure like ‘Tubelight’. He came back and came back harder with Tiger Zinda Hai which shattered many BO records.
However 2018 has been a different year for the Khans.. Fate of ‘Race 3’ made it clear to the industry and the stars that they might enjoy larger than life movies but aren’t there to buy nonsense with an ensemble cast they wouldn’t prefer to see just because of the presence of ‘Salman Khan. ‘ Fate of Race 3 was a clear indication that no star or superstar is bigger than the ‘content’ itself and even if there was so before, it is no longer there.
‘Thugs of Hindosthan’ was the first collaborative effort of Aamir Khan and Amitabh Bachchan and this factor itself created a buzz among fans. But post the opening day when people realized that the film lacks ‘content’, the movie was rejected by the audience as even big names like Aamir Khan and Amitabh Bachchan couldn’t save the film from drowning. The movie was classified as a disaster which made Aamir Khan even apologize to the audience out of ‘goodwill’ for the movie.
Shah Rukh Khan’s ‘Zero’ although has been a very big movie of the year with a whole lot of anticipation, the movie has been bashed by critics and the performance so far isn’t upto the mark. Although the individual performances of SRK, Anushka and Katrina is being appreciated by the audience and critics, majority of the audience have classified the movie to be an actual ‘zero’ with respect to ‘content’ and ‘practicality.’
2018 has been that one big year where coincidentally all the ‘Khans’ have failed in the BO critically and commercially whereas the next gen stars like Ayushmann Khurrana, Ranbir Kapoor, Vicky Kaushal, Rajkummar Rao, Ranveer Singh have compensated more than what the audience would have expected with movies like ‘Padmavaat’, ‘Sanju’, ‘Stree’, ‘Andhadhun’, ‘Badhaai Ho’ etc. 2018 has clearly been a year where ‘content’ has been shown more priority than ‘stardom’.
This has led many critics to believe that ‘Khandom’ or the stardom of the Khans is as good as over. But is that really so?
The power of ‘stardom’ is to ensure a film gets a major opening, the ‘major’ factor varying with respect to a holiday release or a non holiday release. What is to be noted is that all the 3 films of the 3 Khans, ‘Race 3’, ‘Thugs of Hindosthan’ and ‘Zero’ have had great openings with special mention of ‘TOH’ which fetched an opening of around 40 crores just on Day 1. If this isn’t the result of the ‘stardom’ of Aamir Khan and Amitabh Bachchan, we don’t know what is.
Yes 2018 has undoubtedly been a game changer for Bollywood where for the first time audience have shown that ‘content’ is a must and that one cannot get away earning the riches just by planting in major stars in a mindless movie. But that surely doesn’t simultaneously indicate that the stardom of the Khans is now done and dusted and as good as over. ‘After all what isn’t earned overnight doesn’t disappear overnight. ‘
Henceforth it is only a matter of time where the Khans come back with a bang to break all BO records once again to show to people that they are still the ‘front runners in the game’ and those who have sidelined them as ‘finished’ or ‘over’ are nothing else but mindless dolts who never understood what ‘stardom’ or ‘super stardom’ is actually about.
By SUBHOJIT GHOSH.