His biggest fans admit he is not the greatest actor and say his films aren’t really quality cinema. But Salman Khan is unstoppable, spinning box-office magic from Chandigarh to Chennai and Bhopal to Ballia, with his film Bodyguard confounding critics and being declared a hit on day one of its release.
The lukewarm reviews and the thumping success of the Khan-Kareena Kapoor film in India could be perplexing for some, but not for his fans queuing up to get entertained — not bothered whether the film is top-notch or not.
If his 2009 release Wanted revived single screen theatres, his 2010 release Dabangg was the top grosser of the year. This year his first release Ready did decent business at the ticket window but Bodyguard — released this Eid — is breaking records, beating the opening day collections of Dabangg and 3 Idiots.
Bodyguard, the remake of a Malayalam film, has broken Dabangg opening day record by a huge margin of about INR75million and the second day collections at INR180 million is bigger than any film’s Sunday collection.
The film, co-produced by Reliance Entertainment and Atul Agnihotri, Khan’s brother-in-law, has given distributors a reason to celebrate. “The film is going 100 per cent occupancy in Uttar Pradesh. Single screens are also houseful,” said Joginder Mahajan, a Delhi-based distributor.
Sanjeev Lamba, CEO, Reliance Entertainment, said expectations from a Salman film at Eid were sky high. “We expect that the film will continue to create new milestones at the box office.” However, the star, who is missing the action as he is in Pittsburgh recuperating after a surgery to fix his nerve problem, believes his family is just trying to cheer him up by telling him that Bodyguard is rocking the box office. “He is not totally convinced. He is thinking that we are saying this to cheer him up,” says Agnihotri.
Meanwhile, film critic Khalid Mohammad feels the news of his health trouble, which came five days before the release of Bodyguard, has worked in favour of Khan. “Salman Khan has a good fan following and his presence in itself is charismatic. There’s also a sympathy wave riding on the actor, who is being treated for a medical condition,” he said. “He has this glamorous presence and poster-boy image; as a result of which he is getting such roles even at the age of 45.”
Published in The Express Tribune, September 5th, 2011.