I know. They are the biggest, the best. Larger-than-life demi-gods of all things celluloid. The can-do-no-wrong brigade has begun to falter. Not that the chinks are showing in the armour yet. At least not in Salman Khan's armour. His latest film Race 3 has not been liked by anyone that I know. Yet the film has made over Rs 180 crore in the first week.
So, should Salman change his ways? Yes! He must, because the status quo won't support him for too long. He is not getting any younger. Judwaa is no longer Salman Khan. It's Varun Dhawan. Too many indifferent performances in films that lack true magic won't help Salman's career. But then, Salman can look over his shoulder at his peer, adversary, foe and friend Shah Rukh Khan's career and decide it's better to flow with the status quo than change the course of your career just because the critics think your latest film sucks.
It does. But then why did Race 3 make its mandatory Rs 100 crore so quickly?
Shah Rukh Khan's films have lately gone into the experimental mode with near-calamitous result, His last two films Fan and Jab Harry Met Sejal have proven boxoffice non-starters. In the first, he played his own fan, in the second he played a fan of the Gujarati road movies, where two unlikely characters travel together to exotic destinations.
Somewhere in his quest for a new horizon Shah Rukh's films are getting lost in translation. But at least he's trying. Salman isn't even trying to change tracks. Even Sultan and Bajrangi Bhaijaan, which he is rightly proud of, were performances steeped in populism.
The only Khan who really takes risks is Aamir. But he knows what the audience wants. In that sense he is not really taking risks. He's pretending to.
Rajinikanth is the X factor of Hindi cinema. Never the same force to reckon with that we might have thought of him after seeing the mass genuflection in the South. Rajini is currently trying to find a middle ground between his cinema and politics. It's a losing battle for both Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan. Their viewership won't flock to see their favourite actor while he is busy trying to merge the role of the abhineta with the neta. They don't want to see their iconic actors struggling to articulate their politics on screen thereby messing up the sacrosanct entertainment-based relationship between fan and star.
While the Khans and Rajinikanth grapple with their celluloid demons , the 'Ra' factor is creeping up on them. Both Ranveer Singh and Ranbir Kapoor have an extraordinary fan base. While Ranveer Singh has Sanjay Leela Bhansali to deck up his star-power, Ranbir who could've been Bhansali's blue-eyed boy after the bluesy-hued Saawariya is struggling to find his voice. Sanju, where Ranbir plays Sanjay Dutt, could well be Ranbir's comeback film.
And it won't be a tired jaded and film depending almost completely on its lead actor's star power. The only star-actor who knows how to blend and bend his star-power into shapes that herald a sense of social commitment is Akshay Kumar. While the Khans struggle to get their groove back, Akshay is all set to win the Olympics gold medal all over again for India in the film Gold this Independence Day.
That's the clout the Khans should learn to exercise. Make the nation feel good about being Indian. Being human will follow.
(Subhash K Jha is a film critic and movie expert)
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL.)