After ruling hearts and the charts for a quarter century and more, during which they effortlessly and disdainfully left competition behind, the triumphant march of the Khans of Bollywood have begun to show signs of stuttering.
Aamir, the perfectionist, Salman, the big, bad boy with a golden heart and Shah Rukh, the eternal Mr Romantic have been jolted by the failure of their films in the box office after a long time.
Thugs of Hindustan, Race 3 and Zero were all shown the thumbs down by viewers while smaller budget films with less known actors, such as Andhadhun, Raazi, Badhai Ho, Stree, Mulk, Uri and several other films doing far better, the Khans need to rethink their strategy.
Both Bollywood and Hollywood have assiduously cultivated the star system, unlike European films in which the director’s voice drives the cinematic narrative and actors become secondary. Even today, Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Leonardo Dicaprio and Angelina Jolie, continue to scorch the screen globally and ensure the films’ box-office success.
No one on earth – Research Companies, Survey Groups, Postmortem Dodos or self-appointed Crystal-ball idiots – has ever been able to accurately predict the fate of movies (Remember Shaan after Sholay?), it is about instinctive feel of the ground,audience preference and social insights which increasingly are becoming important in choosing stories, selecting plots and sketch characters. Films can still bomb but breaking new grounds and risking unusual themes and stories are increasingly scoring over feel-good stories with predictable endings and formulaic content.
The Khans can intimidate and spell awe with their blazing aura and star power & it will need a special kind of director to understand and smoothly navigate this critical space in a mutually rewarding way
The Khans, with their respective brand images, and content to match, merrily zonked audiences for all these years. However, the honeymoon, clearly, is over and while it’s not cataclysmic, to ignore it is to definitely woo peril.
The greatest example from boom-to-doom was the great Rajesh Khanna, who was so fatally trapped in his self-created public persona and popular image, that once his audiences tired of it and new-age audiences were won over by the machismo of the new hotties, Amitabh Bachchan & Vinod Khanna, the Khanna show was over.
The Khans are intelligent and will no doubt address this issue in their own way. It is interesting to see that of the three, Aamir has emerged relatively unscathed. While he has experimented with different roles, both Shah Rukh and Salman seem prisoners of their own brand image, which unfortunately has ceased to weave magic on the screen.
The Khans can intimidate and spell awe with their blazing aura and star power & it will need a special kind of director to understand and smoothly navigate this critical space in a mutually rewarding way. Director will have to remember that the Khans are very special people to whom their public gave their loyalty as both actors as well as mythic figures. They still are superstars. The challenge is re-invention. They are in their fifties now and are up against a bunch of young, talented, hi-octane & versatile actors who are invading the ₹100 crore plus club.The age of the drooling, swooning, zonked-out audiences-base instantly hitting the Big O-zone at the name of Khans, is history.
Insiders claim they still have aces up their sleeves and that Tiger Abhi Zinda Hai ! Here’s to Khaan-Daan II – and god speed.