How many times has one heard of a film turning out to be the third biggest grosser of the year and still been looked at as a barely average affair at the box office? Well, quite rarely. In recent times something close to that happened with Race 3 [Below Average] and Thugs of Hindostan [Disaster] when they turned out to be major disappointments despite being the fifth and seventh highest grossers of 2018.
However, back in 2003 the unthinkable had happened with The Hero. The film, which was released 17 years back, had everything going in its favor. The Gadar – Ek Prem Katha team of Sunny Deol and Anil Sharma were returning for this major action thriller entertainer. The scale had gone up manifold and the setting too had moved from India-Pakistan to something far more global. Set in the current times, it was the glossiest film till date and also technically quite bright too with cinematography and action been totally big screen affair.
This time around, Sunny Deol was playing the master of disguises as a top spy. The film too was tagged as ‘The Love Story of a Spy’, though ironically the romantic elements between Sunny Deol and Preity Zinta had no chemistry whatsoever, something that was the strngth of Gadar where audiences rooted for Sunny Deol and Ameesha Patel to come together.
As an added attraction there was Priyanka Chopra making her big screen debut as well. With Miss World title in her kitty, she was aiming to make it big in Bollywood and though legend has it that she almost couldn’t make it to The Hero, eventually she did impress her director Anil Sharma and was on the project.
The film did take a very good opening of over 2 crores and stayed consistent over the weekend too. However, the narrative wasn’t as exciting as one would have expected in a thriller as the first half of the film, with its Kashmir setting, just didn’t work. The Hero did have a far better second half with its stylish action sequences and that’s what kept the audiences engaged to an extent. As a result, the lifetime of the film did come close to the 30 crores mark, hence being next only to Kal Ho Na Ho and Koi… Mil Gaya, the biggest grossers of 2003.
In a regular scenario, returns like these would have allowed the film a clean hit status. However, the budget of The Hero was too high as it was in excess of 30 crores, and as a result it turned out to be a largely underwhelming experience for those who had invested in it.