Star statuses today—An objective analysis

Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan seen with Rani Mukerji. Photo: Publicity Photo

Hindi movies have traditionally had stars, big stars and super-stars. And they are all essential to pull in the initial crowds. Though no star, irrespective of gender or talent, can make a film run, we need these initial magnets to get an opening for a movie, and arguably, for repeat value as well.

In today’s times when the box-office, as a wit recently remarked, is now a “box of ice” (or at its lowest ever!), it is perhaps vital to analyze how stars are faring today.

In the post-Covid scenario, after all, the star system per se, seems to be at an ebb, but that this is only partly true is clear when we note the elemental truth that films without stars do not even get an opening, but for rare exceptions for specific reasons. Stars are needed, like it or not! But poor selection of projects, wrong budgets and alienation from the audiences have together resulted in bleak showing for the main players.

And let us not forget that Hindi cinema is still a male-driven industry, at least in the millennium. So let us look at the crowd-pullers.

The Top Six

The three top Khans are each in their 59th year and have all started out between 1988 and 1992! Of them, thanks to 2023, Shah Rukh Khan (Pathaan and Jawan) has the edge today, though Dunkee (except for overseas) underperformed. However, while the media is making much of a new film signed with Atlee, and also of King, a planned movie in which he features with daughter Suhana Khan, there is no enthusiasm among the people when compared to SRK’s earlier box-office vehicles.

Salman Khan, despite his huge fan base, is facing a bad time. His 2023 Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan, still raked in an Indian nett of 100 crore despite being a calamity, and so the actor has turned ultra-cautious. Despite many films buzzed about as signed, his only film actually in production is Sikandar with Ghajini-Holiday whizkid A.R. Murugadoss.

Aamir Khan, shrewd as ever, is taking it easier than ever before after teh mega-debacle of Laal Singh Chaddha, and his only forthcoming film is a ‘smallie’, Sitaren Zameen Par.

With Ajay Devgn, it has been a mixed bag since lockdown ebbed. He had a massive blockbuster in Drishyam 2 and a hit in Shaitan (besides his hit cameo turn as Singham in Sooryavanshi) but has had losers in good films like Maidaan and Runway 34. His OTT debut, Rudra: The Edge of Darkness, was appreciated but did not really become a hit.

And so, but for the musical love story, Auron Mein Kahan Dam Tha, helmed by the bankable Neeraj Pandey with music by Oscar winner M.M. Kreem and co-starring Ajay’s favourite heroine Tabu, the actor too has become more than a shade careful: most of his upcoming movies are sequels: Singham Again, Raid 2, Drishyam 3 and the just-announced De De Pyaar De 2!

Akshay Kumar, after a deluge of hits between 2015 and 2019 and the end-lockdown Sooryavanshi, has been inundated with non-performing disasters. His penchant for doing multiple films of varied hues seem to have cost him dear and though his approach has not changed, only Jolly LLB 3 and Khel Khel Mein, both light dramas, have elicited modest interest among his films to come.

Still into biopics of lesser-known Indian achievers, he is yet to emerge from a cloud: note how projects like Sarfira, Sky Force and his film on lawyer Sir C. Sankaran Nair are not creating buzz at all. The media has made much of a forthcoming project with Priyadarshan, but that’s about it. Housefull 3 is still in pre-production and there are negative whispers (especially vis-à-vis budget) about Welcome to the Jungle.

Hrithik Roshan’s excess exclusivity has cost him a lot too. Even good products like Vikram Vedha and Fighter shockingly underperformed as Hrithik had (literally) lost touch with the masses. His only film to come is War 2.

Ranbir Kapoor has had three consecutive hits and three big films on hand. He has the edge over all his colleagues. Photo: Publicity Photo

The rapid rise of Ranbir Kapoor

In this barren scenario, if we were to go by the adage, “A star is only as good as his last hit!” it is Ranbir Kapoor who has the edge with three consecutive hits (Brahmastra: Part One—Shiva, Tu Jhoothi Main Makkaar and Animal) since 2022. So his only debacle, Shamshera, which came before Brahmastra, has already been forgotten. The actor is now committed to Animal Park (still on the writing block) and has committed a long period to Ramayana, in which he will play Lord Ram. A huge project, Love and War, remains signed with Sanjay Leela Bhansali as well.

The rest

Ranveer Singh, who has recovered from three consecutive fiascos with Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani, is also doing his bit as Simmba in a Singham Again cameo. He has also been finalized as Don 3. Tiger Shroff, also a cop in Singham Again, has had a bad time since War with disasters galore, but is said to have now signed a mega-actioner produced by Karan Johar.

Varun Dhawan too is not exactly making great noise for his movies. It remains to be seen how his actioner, Baby John, whose release has been indefinitely rescheduled from May 31 and which was never really hot in terms of awareness, will fare. And he has just signed the modest Sunny Sanskari Ki Tulsi Kumari with Karan Johar.

The star situation is thus far from enviable, underscoring the fact that the scenario in cinema is far from healthy. Let us then pray for the recovery of Hindi films—and star fortunes.



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