Salman Khan
Salman Khan

The stirring stardom of Salman Khan is as enigmatic as the superstar himself. He is perhaps the only star of his generation whose stardom is not subservient to the box-office success of his movies. Despite holding a string of box-office records – Highest Grosser of the Year (8 times), 3 Highest Grossers of one particular Year (Hum Saath Saath Saath Hain, Biwi No.1, and Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam in 1999), 5 veritable blockbusters on the trot, among others – it is his abiding connect with the audience which has stood him in good stead over the last 25 years.

At present, his next release BAJRANGI BHAIJAAN is hot on the heels and is slated to become the first blockbuster of 2015. As you gear up to throng to cinema halls to watch this movie, we dispel 3 popular myths pertaining to the superstar.

1) Salman Khan delivers Blockbusters only on Eid:

While it is true that since 2009, the festival of Eid has become synonymous with Salman Khan and all his movies released on this occasion have turned out to be massive blockbusters, people tend to forget two vital points. Before 2009, Eid was not a sought-after period for releasing big-ticket movies. It was only after Salman stormed the box-office with WANTED in 2009, that industry woke up to the box-office potential of Eid period. Before 2009, Diwali and Christmas were traditionally considered auspicious and conducive for the release of big movies from a long time.

It wouldn’t be erroneous to state that Salman made Eid the most sought-after and lucrative proportion for Bollywood. Hence this charge of Salman using Eid as a springboard for box-office success does not hold water.

Also, in recent years, READY and DABANGG 2 were not Eid releases and both were monumental hits. Before 2009, every hit of Salman Khan was a non-Eid release. From Maine Pyaar Kiya to Hum Aapke Hain, Hum Saath Saath Hain to Karan Arjun, No Entry to Partner – there are several such examples.

2) Salman Khan hit a rough patch between 2000-2009 and his stardom dipped:

Ludicrous reasons are wheeled out by his critics to perpetuate this myth. The movies in which he made guest appearances are tagged as his movies. HELLO, SAAWARIYA, HEROES, BAABUL, SAAWAN, etc. are some of the examples. By the same logic, does one count DULHA MIL GAYA, HEY RAM, BHOOTNATH, SILSILAY, KRAZZY 4, etc. as Shah Rukh’s movies?

It is amusing that naysayers discount superhits like MUJHSE SHAADI KAROGI, NO ENTRY, and PARTNER – all of which released between 2000 and 2009 – as these are multi-starrer movies. While the contribution to each and every member associated with the movie must be acknowledged, it is clear as daylight that Salman was the dominant star in those movies who pulled in the audience. The producer of NO ENTRY is still waiting for Salman’s approval and dates to start its sequel. The project has not taken off only because Salman is yet to allot the dates. While Anil Kapoor is a fine actor, he has been playing side-roles since 1999 and is dependent on the dominant star to pull through the movies. Same goes for Govinda whose heyday as superstar ended in 1999. Govinda has said in numerous interviews that he would always be grateful to Salman for offering him a film when no work was coming his way. If one look at Govinda’s movies from 2003 onwards, all of them have opened extremely poorly except PARTNER and BHAGAM BHAG. He no longer gets the lead roles.

Also, if we deploy the same rationale and yardstick, should we discount KABHI KHUSHI KABHI GHAM, DEVDAS, KAL HO NA HO, OM SHANTI OM, etc, from SRK’s oeuvre… and RANG DE BASANTI, 3 IDIOTS, DIL CHAHTA HAI, etc. from Aamir Khan’s body… or PHIR HER PHERI, WELCOME, HEY BABY, SINGH IS KINNG, BHOOL BHULAIYA, etc. from Akshay Kumar’s filmography?

People condone TERE NAAM, MAINE PYAAR KYUN KIYA, CHORI CHORI CHUPKE, WANTED, DULHAN HUM LE JAYENGE, and HAR DIL JO PYAR KAREGA as if they didn’t exist. These all movies were declared either hits or semi-hits by all trade experts alike, but when it comes to Salman anything less than a blockbuster is a flop?

Just for the reference of readers, GARAM MASALA, WAQT, NAMASTEY LONDON, DIL CHAHTA HAI, CHALTE CHALTE, KAL HO NA HO, DEVDAS, ANDAZ, etc. are all either hits or semi-hits. But are they called flops or disasters? The larger point here is that it is not appropriate to dub successful films (hits or semi-hits) as flops just because they were not blockbusters.

Another notable point is that even the films like GARV and LUCKY which were ultimately declared below-average at the box-office opened to packed houses.

Having said all this, one must admit that Salman was not as successful between 2000 and 2009 as he was in 1990s, a decade when he was undisputed numero uno. From 2000 to 2009, Shah Rukh and Aamir certainly had an edge over Salman, but to say that Salman’s stardom had dipped considerably is a gross exaggeration. The perception and general consensus about Salman among hoi polloi has always been that of a larger-than-life superstar.

3) Salman Khan is a superstar but not a good actor:

While Salman Khan has been a darling of masses, a quintessential crowd-puller, and a sigil of stardom, the critics haven’t really warmed up him. His acting talent is often derided, and at times ridiculed.

It is safe to say that he does not have the unrelenting commitment of Aamir, and emotional underpinning of SRK. There was a time period between 2006-2008 where he sometimes seemed uninterested and lackadaisical.

However, one cannot ignore the fact that he has churned out fine performances in almost all genres. Be it romance (MAINE PYAAR KIYA, HUM DIL DE CHUKE SANAM), comedy (JUDWAA, ANDAZ APNA APNA, MUJHSE SHAADI KAROGI), or action (DABANGG). His restrained performances in KHAMOSHI and TERE NAAM were applauded by even his fiercest detractors. Above all, delivering blockbusters in all conceivable genres without being a good actor is akin to making an omelette without breaking an egg.

One cannot remain at the top of the tree for 25 years in the industry where cut-throat competition is the flavor of all seasons. The fact that the audience still wants to see him on the silver screen and his popularity is burgeoning with each passing day is am eloquent testimony to his fine acting prowess.

Rishi Kapoor said on KOFFEE WITH KARAN (2004) that he is surprised that Salman does not get his dues as an actor from media despite doing some terrific work. He went to state that Salman is perhaps the most under-rated actor.

FILMFARE aptly encapsulated the mystical microcosm of Salman and his stardom in one of its articles, “When it comes to Salman Khan, his performance in the movie does not matter. What matters is the performance of his scores of fans in the cinema halls, and they almost always deliver.”

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