Sultan's box office success is good news for Salman Khan, but bad for younger stars
The box office success of Sultan — the film’s earnings are now inching towards the Rs 200-crore mark, having brought in Rs 195.5 crore on its sixth day in the theatres — may have cemented Salman Khan’s number one position in the film industry.
While that is great news for the star, it may have unintended consequences for the younger crop of actors in Bollywood — including Ranveer Singh, Ranbir Kapoor, Varun Dhawan, Sidharth Malhotra, Arjun Kapoor, Sushant Singh Rajput and Aditya Roy Kapur.
To answer that question we need to look at an unwritten ‘rule’ in Bollywood that dictates — any actor who hopes to seize the top crown, needs to do by the age of 30 (or at the most, in his very early 30s).
Let’s look at how the rule has played out in the past: Dilip Kumar was only 25 years old when he shot to prominence with Jugnu and by the time he was 28, he was the king of all he purveyed. Similarly, a young Rajesh Khanna burst through to superstardom at the age of 27; by 32, his career had seen unprecedented heights and was about to fizzle out.
Amitabh Bachchan was a bit of a late starter — he got his first monster hit in Zanjeer, when he was 31. By the time Bachchan was 33, there wasn’t a rival in sight.
Salman himself had his first blockbuster in Maine Pyar Kiya when he was 24. This was in 1989. By the time Salman was 26, he had consolidated his position with back-to-back hits like Baaghi, Saajan, Sanam Bewafa. And the stupendous success of Hum Aapke Hain Koun happened when Salman was only 29.
The other major superstar of the ’90s — Shah Rukh Khan — had his Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge moment within the ‘30’ deadline. And he had preceded DDLJ with other hits, like Baazigar, and followed it up with Kuch Kuch Hota, to name just a few.
Now let’s look at some other extremely successful actors — with huge hits to their credit — who were never declared “number one” because their best phase came a little later in the day:
Dharmendra had been giving hits since Phool aur Patthar in 1964 but by the time he peaked with back to back hits in 1973-74, at the age of 38, Amitabh Bachchan had inherited the crown from Rajesh Khanna. And let’s not forget that Dharmendra shared credit for Bachchan’s biggest hit — Sholay.
Similarly, Aamir Khan had sporadic hits through the ’90s but had a string of phenomenal successes only from 2006 — when he was already 41 — and therefore (despite the fact that his PK and 3 Idiots had record-breaking box office collections; PK is still on top of the list of highest grossing Bollywod films) he has never been hailed as “number one”.
What this means is that the entire lot of Gen Next stars mentioned earlier have very little time to stake their claim to the “throne”.
The youngest among them were born in 1986-87 and already 29-30 years old, while Ranbir, at the age of 34, is the oldest. And with Salman’s box office supremacy going strong — and seeming unshakeable until at least 2020 (this is even if his next few films underperform) — the earliest you’ll see him “vacate” the top spot would be by the time the newer actors are already 33-35 years old.
With Bollywood precedent proving that an actor needs to establish his superstar credentials fairly early on, it’s anyone’s guess on who will “take over” from Salman. We’re putting our money on a much younger star, who hasn’t been launched yet.
Unless, of course, one of the younger stars can emulate Salman levels of success while the superstar himself is unable to match his Sultan magic.
In this highly unpredictable industry, that’s a possibility — but keeping the current context in mind, it seems a very unlikely scenario.
Updated Date: Jul 13, 2016 11:38 AM