Should Salman Khan reinvent himself?

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The answer is yes. Given the underperformance (the protests are not an actual reason as stated by many media outlets) of ‘Dabangg 3’, it is high time that the 54-year-old actor has a hard look at his choices of films, going forward. There is no doubt that his films such as ‘Dabangg’ (2010), ‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan’ (2015) and ‘Sultan’ (2016) were box-office winners because of a combination of factors. But what is going wrong these days? Let’s explore some possible reasons.

There is no director’s vision anymore
The above-mentioned films were money-spinners, not only because of Salman Khan’s star power but also because of a very important point, which is ignored by egoistic stars who turn producers – the director’s vision. The characters of Chulbul Pandey, Pavan Kumar Chaturvedi and Sultan Ali Khan were imagined, crafted and visualized by directors and then the actor got under the skin of those characters. This resulted in a lasting impression and above-average acting performances, which were also critically acclaimed. Unfortunately, in the recent past, the director in any Salman Khan’s home production is a mere puppet, who only has to consider the star power of the hero. As a consequence, those movies have a poor story and screenplay. Movies such as ‘Tubelight’ (2017), ‘Race 3’ (2018) and ‘Dabangg 3’ (2019) are masala entertainers but they lack the grip and emotions, earlier seen in his movies. The whole industry knows that they were made in a hurry to save costs and in turn, the shelf life was considerably less. Both directors Remo D’Souza and Prabhu Deva were signed because they could be manipulated and could easily be funded by producers or production houses.

It is all about Salman Khan
Remember Ajay Devgn’s home production ‘Shivaay’ (2016) where he occupied every scene, even when it was not related to his role? Salman Khan is following in his footsteps too. A movie coming from Salman Khan Films (SKF) is only about him. ‘Bharat’ (2019) is a case in point. As a result, the supporting cast is usually weak and their roles are not properly fleshed out. In ‘Dabangg 3’ (2019), the villain, Sudeep, is completely wasted and the “director” focused too much on the action scenes. Since the ‘Wanted’ star likes to interfere in every department of filmmaking, be it music, lyrics, screenplay, story, as the main hero, he wants to be ubiquitous in his productions. Signing good actors in supporting roles will give his own character a better shape but he fails to recognize this. It is true that in ‘Jai Ho’ (2014), he signed some actors who were out of work but none of them got offers thereafter because they were merely there. On the positive side, as a producer, he is making better films with other actors like ‘Chillar Party’ (2011), ‘Dr. Cabbie’ (2014) and ‘Notebook'(2019), so there are high chances he can resist the temptation of appearing in every scene in his home productions where he is the main hero.

The Indian audience is evolving
Salman Khan is choosing safe films which can give him his return of investment at the box office. He wants to play bigger than life characters on the big screen but will the audience keep accepting such films? The audience is looking for meatier subjects, out-of-the-box stories, quirky characters, engaging screenplays, lesser songs and crisp writing. But it seems he wants to recycle old formulas and this is where his mindset is backward. Doing smaller films may not be an instant success but it will pave the way for more meaningful cinema ahead for him. Granted that his fans want to see the superstar but he makes enough movies for every section of the audience. He should take inspiration from the likes of Amitabh Bachchan, Aamir Khan, Ayushmann Khurrana and Ranveer Singh, who have a knack for selecting good scripts and playing memorable characters.

The sequels are not working
‘Dabangg 2’ (2012) was enough to know that this franchise didn’t warrant a third installment but still they went ahead to cash in on the character of Chulbul Pandey. ‘Race 3’ was a joke. Then, there is ‘Kick 2’ coming, which will again put him forward as the invincible action hero. ‘Tiger 3’ has been announced. The problem lies in the writing as these sequels are merely perceived as old wine in new bottles. The audience may not be interested in watching sequels of his action flicks as they all look similar.

Salman Khan is still a crowd-puller and at this age, it is not an easy feat. However, his choice of scripts leaves a lot of unanswered questions such as rejecting Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s ‘Inshallah’ and working on his home production ‘Radhe’, which has the tagline ‘Your Most Wanted Bhai’. The audience will make the connection with this original tagline!

Disclaimer: The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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