Before you start reading this opinion piece, please note this is not a pull down the Khan’s effort. The writer has been a big fan of the three Khans, movies like ‘Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge’ (DDLJ)(1995), ‘Lagaan’ (2001), ‘Dabangg’ (2010), etc., have been yours truly’s most favourite movies. We cannot deny a simple fact that all three Khans are self-made and have actually given the industry self-defining trends. In fact to a large extent after Amitabh Bachchan was no longer the king, the Khans revived the industry.
This is what pains some of us observers of Bollywood that at least two of these Khans have not yet seen the truth on the wall. Yet.
The most glaring example of the I-know-everything syndrome is Shah Rukh Khan (SRK). The warning bells came loud and clear when after ‘Dilwale’ (2015) did not do as well as it was expected to, SRK went to the theme of obsession and revenge with ‘Fan’ (2016). The weakness was not in the screenplay of this dud as much in the fact that the audiences had long ago with ‘Anjaam’ (1994) rejected SRK in themes of obsession. He had actually milked the theme way back. The memories of a ‘Baazigar’ (1993) have never really faded and ‘Fan’ was frankly a very weak product. Then came the much hyped ‘Raees’ (2017) which had a even more dragging screenplay than ‘Fan’ and one finds this very difficult to accept that Shah Rukh could not see what was unfolding as a product. He was also the producer of this one. Luckily till then the audiences still loved him blindly and it was this fact which saved ‘Raees’ from becoming a disaster.
The fact that the audiences were becoming fed up of SRK’s total disregard of screenplay and entertaining content came with ‘Jab Harry Met Sejal’ (2017). It also proved the fact that along with Anurag Kashyap, Imtiaz Ali remains an overrated director at the box office. The amount of adulation he gets in review clubs and high class parties is just not their at ground level audience. ‘Jab Harry Met Sejal’ tanked and SRK refused to learn his lessons with ‘Zero’ (2018) too – a movie that went everywhere but never in the direction of entertainment and has almost derailed Aanand L Rai’s status too. The question is you can go wrong once in calling the box office but not for four years straight. The biggest sign of a disappointing arrogance came when SRK in a press conference after the debacle of ‘Jab Harry Met Sejal’ blamed it on the insensitivity of the audiences and they walking in with preconceived notions about a movie.
The other glaring example of how another Khan is also headed for disaster is the trailer of ‘Bharat’ (2019). It is but evident that the trailer is like a hotel adding offer on offer when visitors just don’t want to turn up. The trailer tries too hard and takes inspiration from at least two Hollywood movies besides everything else. Yet it does not provoke you into watching the movie. Frankly the trailer looks more like the kind of trailers which ‘Tubelight’ (2017)’ and Race 3′ (2018) had.
Salman Khan’s movies never work on logic one might argue. You need to know that if you remove the epic franchise value of the Tiger (‘Ek Tha Tiger’ (2012) and ‘Tiger Zinda Hai’ (2017)) movies that he does, out of his last three movies in last two years, two have been colossal duds. That age of a fan making your movie work just because a movie is released on 3000 screens and there is a holiday is no longer a safe strategy. There is a huge undercurrent of negativity for the trailer of ‘Bharat’. Do not let the hype on social media fool you. The audiences are harsh today and they have choices. There is better content available on smartphones and laptops.
Unfortunately the two Khans are working on the premise, at least today, that when they are there, you don’t need a writer or a director. Rohit Shetty, post ‘Dilwale’ has delivered superhits. Aanand L Rai might revive himself. Salman changed the director for ‘Dabangg 2’ (2012) and trust me the second part was a sorry shadow of the first part. Prabhu Deva is coming in for ‘Dabangg 3’ when he seems to have run out of his shelf life. His last two movies were stinkers at the box office. Clearly directors are either not being respected or are being chosen as necessary errand boys.
If ‘Bharat’ and ‘Dabangg 3’ both are disasters, remember you read it here first.
The safest is Aamir, so far. However one finds it difficult to digest that a perfectionist like him could not see what was shaping up in ‘Thugs of Hindustan’ (2018). How could he be so careless about his first historical outing with Bachchan himself. He is yet to announce his next venture. However his image of being a great content provider as of now stands, tad unfairly, dented.
We could be totally wrong about the Khans. ‘Bharat’ could be a superhit and the next SRK film could be a bigger hit than DDLJ. You can never rule out champion performers. As at today, unfortunately the simple facts point towards more gloom. The sad part is most of it is self-created by the Khans.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.