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When the Khans couldn't cast a spell, it was content that stole the show

The three Khans with their releases generally contribute up to 20 percent to the box office collections of a year. In 2018, however, three releases by the trio hardly sum up to 10 percent.

December 27, 2018 / 08:28 AM IST

The three-decade hold of the Khans seems to be coming to an end if the box office performances of their 2018 releases are anything to go by. The reasons could be many.

One of the reasons is simply the fatigue with the kind of cinema that the Khans are associated with – where producers and even directors depended significantly on their larger-than-life persona, relegating content to the second spot. Although, the same doesn’t entirely hold true in Aamir’s case.

There is paradigm shift in the viewer’s preferences towards content-driven cinema, now championed by the likes of Ayushmann Khurrana and Vicky Kaushal. As content replaces charisma and balance sheets become more important, producers are now demanding a bang for their buck.

With films barely lasting more than a week in theatres, content is God, not just the king. In addition, exorbitant ticket prices have led to moviegoers becoming very picky with what they chose to watch, lest it should not be worth their money. Faced with these new realities, the days of a superstar ensuring a big opening are numbered.

According to brands experts, Shah Rukh Khan is in the sunset phase of his career. The nail in the coffin for the 53 year old actor is his latest release –Anand L Rai’s Zero. The Rs 200-crore film, where King Khan plays a dwarf, has disappointed the audiences and critics alike.

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Zero is weak, flawed and fails to meet the colossal expectations,” said film trade analyst Taran Adarsh.

Khan’s last super hit film was Chennai Express in 2013 that grossed close to Rs 424 crore at the box office. After that, it has been movies like Ae Dil Hai Mushkil and Harry Met Sejal that failed to enter the Rs 100-crore club, which is not even the benchmark for the three Khans anymore.

In an interview with Moneycontrol earlier, brand consultant Harish Bijoor had said, "Shah Rukh is in sort of an embarrassing adolescent age in his career. He will have to wait for a couple of more years so that he can get into the shoes of an actor who is fit for the kind of roles Amitabh Bachchan plays. Right now, he can neither do justice to the chocolate boy kind of roles nor roles like the ones Bachchan takes up. In other words, he is not ready to do a Baghban yet and not suitable for a DDLJ anymore.”

Meanwhile, Salman Khan, who completes three decades in Bollywood this year, made Rs 253.25 crore through his films, television appearances and brand endorsements between October 1, 2017 and September 30, 2018. He has been India’s highest-paid celebrity on the Forbes list for three consecutive years. Even then, his 2018-release Race 3 was a major setback for the actor.

The film's director, Remo D'Souza, sure entered the Rs 100 crore club and made close to Rs 160 crore at the box office. However, Salman had set the standard high a long time ago. According to analysts, the film ‘underperformed’ at the box office.

“Time is changing in Bollywood and content-driven cinema is the lead star in most films these days. Actors like Alia Bhatt, Vicky Kaushal, Rajkumar Rao, and Ayushmann Khurrana are preparing to make it bigger for themselves in Bollywood with content-driven films, which is working for them at the moment,” said film trade analyst Atul Mohan.

On the other hand, Aamir Khan's perfectionist image was slightly tainted this year. “The audience had assumed that Aamir can never go wrong with his film choices and what they would see on screen would always be perfect. Thugs of Hindostan has proved them wrong and left them disappointed,” said Mohan.

The film co-starring Amitabh Bachchan and Katrina Kaif, produced on a budget of more than Rs 300 crore, made only about Rs 150 crore from its theatrical release.

According to Mohan, the three Khans with their releases generally contribute up to 20 percent to the box office collections of a year. In 2018, however, three releases by the trio hardly sum up to 10 percent of Bollywood’s total box office earnings.
Tasmayee Laha Roy
first published: Dec 27, 2018 08:28 am

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