“Shah Rukh Khan is finished”
“Shah Rukh Khan should now retire”
“Shah Rukh Khan’s time is over”
I have been hearing such comments ever since Jab Harry Met Sejal has bombed at the box office and it has amused me. I am amazed that there are people, even from the industry and trade, who think that the golden time of Shah Rukh Khan is over and that he won’t be able to get back in the top league.
What everyone has forgotten is that despite the debacle of Jab Harry Met Sejal and underperformance of Raees and Dilwale, he’s still one of the bankable stars that we have today. He has earned lot of credibility and fan following since 25 long years and these aspects don’t wither away with a couple of bad films. Also, a nice way to gauge the popularity of an actor is how well his films open. In this regard, Shah Rukh Khan is one of the top stars. Almost all his films in recent times have opened very well. Jab Harry Met Sejal looked urban and niche from the promos and it’s actually a feat that it opened at Rs. 15.25 crores. Raees clashed with Kaabil, opened on a non-Holiday and yet collected Rs. 20.42 crores. Dear Zindagi was never meant to be a ‘Shah Rukh Khan film’ since he had a supporting role and also considering its genre, it managed a Rs 8.75 crores opening. Even Fan was not exactly mainstream and managed to collect Rs. 19.20 crores on its release day. Dilwale again had a clash and there was fear looming due to his intolerance remarks. Still, opening at Rs. 21 crores was impressive. Happy New Year and Chennai Express meanwhile were masala films and released on holidays; no wonder that both had rocking openings, at 44.97 crores and Rs. 33.12 crores respectively. Only a superstar can manage to get such great figures consistently.
Where Shah Rukh Khan is faltering right now is with his choice of scripts. His films open well but since the content is not appealing to viewers, the collections come down quickly, mostly after the weekend. Imagine if Dilwale and Raees were laced with a great script and direction, then both these films would have crossed Rs. 200 crore despite the clash. Even Jab Harry Met Sejal, with the support of urban audiences, would have grossed Rs. 150 crore.
The idea for SRK is to back content that is entertaining and which can work at an all-India level. The opening will be definitely huge, as proved above, and then the content can do the talking. And the perception that now, Shah Rukh Khan won’t get a good opening as he has lost audience’s trust is also wrong. 10 years ago, Salman Khan had an even worse performance at the box office. Shah Rukh Khan’s films at least open well. Many of Salman Khan’s films like Baabul, Marigold, Shaadi Karke Phas Gaya Yaar, Yuvvraaj etc, had extremely poor openings. Marigold especially released just a week after Chak De India and arrived without any noise. It shockingly failed to even reach 1-crore-mark! But then he did Wanted which was just a correct film for him. It was massy, entertaining and had comedy, emotion, romance, music, action etc, in adequate doses. Expectedly, audiences lapped it up and came out in hordes. He then followed with consecutive blockbusters starting with Dabangg. Today, he’s one of the greatest superstars of Indian Cinema ever. A decade ago, nobody had thought that Salman Khan would be giving blockbusters after blockbusters in the years to come.
Something similar can happen with Shah Rukh Khan. He has a ready fan base and trust factor, built over the years. He just needs the right kind of script, the right kind of director and the right kind of people-friendly genre. If all these things are taken over, there’s no reason why Shah Rukh Khan can’t re-emerge as the superstar to reckon with!