Some of the biggest all-time Bollywood worldwide grossers like Aamir Khan’s PK and Shah Rukh Khan’s Chennai Express and a few others are under threat from the juggernaut-like momentum of Sultan box office collections. However, does Salman Khan pack enough muscle to carry it forward and destroy their rankings and turn No. 1?
While Sultan is all about muscles, mud fights, yes including hefty males fighting a wisp of a girl, is the content strong enough to ensure a lot of the people go and watch the movie again and again? And is the word-of-mouth powerful enough to ensure all those who have not seen the movie on the big screen, (read, pirates are laughing all the way to the bank) to go and check out the larger-than-life persona of Salman Khan through a medium that really matters? Here we must mention that Salman Khan did not allow any mass consumption stuff like item numbers or other forms of sleaze anywhere near his movie. While that means universal appeal, it does restrict the clientele in a major way.
It matters because Sultan faces a daunting challenge. Already it has suffered a setback in the form of Eid holiday being postponed by a day to July 7 thereby depriving Salman Khan of the full first day’s benefit. And, some of the biggest stars in Bollywood and their movies lie ahead of Sultan at the moment in the form of the top 5 worldwide grossers. This includes Aamir Khan’s irreverent PK, which has box office collections of Rs 769 cr, Salman Khan’s own Bajrangi Bhaijaan at Rs 629 cr another Aamir Khan starrer Dhoom 3 has collected as much as Rs 587 cr, Shah Rukh Khan’s Chennai Express at Rs 425 cr and again (hey, we know the Bollywood stars’ world is a restricted one, Karan Johar himself has pleaded to the public to embrace more of them to ensure a wider foundation of riches for the industry) Aamir Khan’s 3 Idiots, which collected as much as Rs 400 crore.
Sultan has already set a record by grossing (globally) over Rs 200 cr in just 3 days. It managed to enter the Rs 100 cr club easily too. But did that power-show have everything to do with Salman Khan himself and his million-and-more strong fan club alone? These fans will go to the ends of the world to catch a glimpse of their favourite actor and are expected to move en masse into cinemas.
Now that this particular community is sated with all things Salman, what is under question is whether the Sultan content is strong enough. Significantly, behind the success of each and every one of the movies that generated these record numbers had a standout central idea behind it. From PK, 3 Idiots to yes, even Bajrangi Bhaijaan, the central character ran away with the plot and scripted Bollywood history.
In Sultan, Salman Khan has tried to do just that. First is the idea of the central character, a wrestler. Second is finding success and then losing it. At third spot is another revolutionary idea, a female wrestler going face to face, flesh to flesh against alpha males. And lastly, a hero who falls on bad times but who has the guts to fight his inner demons and the world at large to triumph. In short, an emotional roller-coaster ride. Something that the Indian masses love simply because they identify with it. The transformation of a man from self-doubt to success is what dreams of most Indians are made of.
Having said that, the attention span of the public is both short and shallow. Top of the mind recall works, but for that the movie and the man himself must remain in the news. For Salman Khan, that has not happened. He was in the news just ahead of the release of the film when he mde that ‘raped woman’ remark and started a huge controversy. It sparked an uproar and outrage was expressed in very strong terms. The only issue still left over, of Salman Khan not apologising and the woman’s panel chasing him for one. The expression of regret is still to come, with some of Salman Khan’s close friends saying he will not say sorry. The controversy is on simmer at the moment.
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Currently, the Sultan box office collections spark is still alive and Salman Khan is pulling in the crowds in large numbers despite the working week being well on way as is clear from the fact that it pulled in as much as Rs 15 crore on Monday. And it is this kind of success that needs to be maintained.
(All figures B.O. figures courtesy Bollywood Hungama)