If there is anyone in Bollywood who can beat Salman Khan’s record, then its Salman Khan himself these days.
The actor has emerged from a bumper year at the global box office, with ‘Dabangg 2’ looking set to beat the ‘Ek Tha Tiger’ Rs2.58 billion record when it releases in cinemas from December 20, expected to rake in Rs500 crore or Rs5 billion at the box office.
Shah Rukh Khan doesn’t even stand a chance.
This year, Salman appears to have snatched the ‘King Khan’ crown from his arch-rival, whose Diwali release, ‘Jab Tak Hai Jaan’ spurted to a stop shy of Rs1.4bn, while ‘Ek Tha Tiger’ went to become the second biggest Bollywood grosser of all time.
If that accolade wasn’t enough, the Salman and Katrina Kaif starrer also went on to become Google’s seventh most trending movie of 2012 worldwide, while topping the list in India.
Early predictions are rife that ‘Dabangg 2’ will steal Salman’s earlier record, crossing over to the Rs3bn mark, which has only ever been achieved by Aamir Khan’s ‘3 Idiots’, which earned Rs3.85bn in its lifetime, according to trade site, Boxofficeindia.com.
Trade pundits are already hinting that Salman’s rise is the beginning of the end of Shah Rukh, whose last release garnered mixed reviews from critics and none of his films even feature in the top three grossers of all time in India.
“Bollywood is strictly a numbers game and Salman Khan is one of the handful of actors who consistently delivers the receipts,” said one insider. He added: “Barring Salman, surprisingly, Akshay Kumar is the next most bankable actor in Bollywood, with 2012 alone seeing five films, of which four succeeded to earn Rs400 crore or Rs4bn at the box office.
“Where is Shah Rukh these days? Too busy hogging headlines for all the wrong reasons.”
This year has been a trying one for the original ‘King Khan’ of Bollywood, who appeared in headlines, less for his films and more for his off screen antics.
After a public brawl with friend Farah Khan’s husband, Shirish Kunder earlier in the year, Shah Rukh found himself on the receiving end of criticism from cricketers and politicos after yet another fight, this time at Wankadhe Stadium, Mumbai with a police constable.
If that wasn’t enough, an alleged scandalous affair with Priyanka Chopra also did the rounds, with people speculating that his marriage to Gauri was on the rocks as a direct result of this.
While Shah Rukh ultimately bounced back from the allegations to star in the hit film, ‘Jab Tak Hai Jaan’, the film’s box office collections paled in comparison to his arch rival, Salman’s golden run on celluloid this year.
As a sequel to the 2010 released ‘Dabangg’, which raked in Rs2.15bn globally, the film’s tongue-n-cheek humour and item songs by Kareena Kapoor and Malaika Arora Khan are already heating up the predictions.
Adding to its golden chances is the fact that no other big Bollywood film is slated for release until the January 10 release of Imran Khan’s ‘Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola’.
Are 20 days enough for Salman to position himself as Bollywood’s biggest superstar?
Only time will tell.