It’s not yet curtains on the prolonged reign of the illustrious Khans who have lorded over the world’s largest film industry for nearly three decades, but they appear to be feeling the heat with the ascendancy of a fresh bunch of young actor-stars. No longer do they look like invincible gods as the failure of some of their recent films has exposed their feet of clay.
Doubtless, the seemingly impregnable Khanate—Aamir, Shahrukh and Salman—still spells magic and continues to have all the big filmmakers and studios eating out of their hands. But they can no longer take their superstardom for granted or remain complacent about the content of their movies, hoping to get away with just about anything.
Not even Aamir Khan, who has otherwise been extremely careful about the quality of his films for more than two decades. The humongous failure of Thugs of Hindostan (2018) came as a shock to trade pundits who were until then considering the star to be near-infallible, someone who had the proverbial Midas touch. Of course, the whopping first-day collections of Rs 52 crore of the Yashraj Films venture indicated that Aamir’s popularity had not dwindled but it was pretty clear that his admirers had become more demanding. Hardly surprising then, Aamir has since zeroed in on Lal Singh Chadha, an official remake of Tom Hanks’s Hollywood hit, Forrest Gump (1994), as his next release.
Shahrukh is, however, yet to announce his next project, apparently still biding time after his ambitious Zero fared poorly. Once hailed as the ‘Badshah of Bollywood’, he has not had a genuine blockbuster since Chennai Express (2013) even though he has been trying to do things differently through films like Fan and Dear Zindagi (both 2016) and Zero (2018). Salman also had a big scare when two of his movies, Tubelight (2017) and Race 3 (2018), did not live up to expectations. This year, he made a valiant bid to salvage his position by delivering the Rs 200-crore hit Bharat but his future hinges on his next, Dabangg 3 and Insha Allah, which will reunite him with director Sanjay Leela Bhansali for the first time since 1999.
The Khan triumvirate’s popular contemporaries from the 1990s, Akshay Kumar and Ajay Devgn, are still in fine nick. While no Akshay-starrer has managed to do business of Rs 200 crore in the domestic circuit, he keeps churning out three to four Rs 100-crore hits every year. Devgn’s Total Dhamaal and De De Pyaar De opened to hostile reviews earlier this year but that seemingly had no adverse impact on the ticket counters.
From the younger generation, Hrithik Roshan is still going strong after his 2017-hit, Kaabil. His Super 30, a biopic of Bihar mathematician Anand Kumar, is all set for release next week—19 years after he shot to stardom with Kaho Naa… Pyaar Hai (2000). However, his contemporaries, Saif Ali Khan and Abhishek Bachchan, appear to have fallen by the wayside. While Saif turned to Anurag Kashyap’s web series, Sacred Games, last year, Abhishek’s hopes of a successful comeback were dashed to the ground with Manmarziyaan—his only movie in the past two years—underperforming at the turnstiles. But then, that’s what fickle stardom is all about.