The Bollywood rat race, an analysis


Salman Khan and Anushka Sharma (Picture Courtesy: India Today)

The number game in the Hindi film industry never takes the exit route. No matter what the stars say, “I am not in the rat race,” the hidden urge to be called the Numero Uno stays. But there’s no official body that really defines the status of an actor or an actress.

Is Salman Khan holding the No. 1 spot? Or is it Akshay Kumar? Or is it the self-proclaimed King, Shah Rukh Khan? Or is it Deepika Padukone under the actress’ category? Well, it may be Kangana Ranaut. May be Anushka Sharma.

If we look at the last three years beginning with 2014, there are too many contenders for the top slot. But a critical analysis of the numbers, will give us a clear picture as to who
stands where.

There are too many questions and too many arguments. They remain unanswered. If Salman’s fans swear by him, so does a Shah Rukh fan or an Akshay fan. How does it matter if Dilwale and Fan starring SRK have failed to rake in the moolah? Hello Zindagi with SRK and Alia Bhatt has just released and trade analysts will be observing its performance with profound interest.

Akshay has a well-defined plan. Work in films whose budget doesn’t exceed the Rs 40-crore mark and make profit. Rustam is an example and so is Airlift. Housefull 3 this year has given him his third hit of 2016. In 2015, Akki tasted success with Baby and Gabbar is Back. I 2014, it was Holiday. Well, in one sense, he is the Rahul Dravid of Hindi films, Mr. Consistent.

But if we talk of big bucks, then the Khans still rule the roost. Among them, Sallu Bhai is a force to reckon with because just one release in 2016, Sultan and it earns around Rs 300 crore in the domestic market. Even in terms of percentage (budget and net earning), the film creates records.

Box-office figures put Salman right on top. Bajrangi Bhaijaan and Prem Ratan Dhan Payo in 2015 and Sultan this year, there’s no stopping Salman. Aamir’s PK in 2014 created a storm at the box-office. But then, Aamir being Aamir, one film in two years and he keeps his fans guessing. SRK tasted success with Chennai Express in 2014, but a mediocre Dilwale followed by a moderate success like Fan don’t do justice to SRK’s prowess at the box-office.

The likes of Ranveer Singh, Ranbir Kapoor, Sushant Singh Rajput, Varun Dhawan and others are in the race, but are miles away from giving their seniors a run for their money. Hrithik Roshan’s failed experience with Mohenjo Daro in 2016 only pushes him to the background. After Bang Bang in 2014, Hrithik hasn’t seen success, but he too like Aamir takes his time choosing films. Ajay Devgn  is content within the net Rs 120 crore mark. Singham Returns (2014) was a hit, but Drishyam (2015) and Shivaay (2016) haven’t quite made an impact.

Among the A-list actresses Anushka, Deepika, Alia Bhatt, Katrina Kaif, Sonam Kapoor, Kangana, Priyanka Chopra and Sonakshi Sinha are in the race. If Deepika has Piku and Bajirao Mastani, Anushka has PK and Sultan. Katrina hasn’t had a big hit for quite some time  after Bang Bang, and with duds like Phantom (2015), Fitoor and Baar Baar Dekho in 2016, she is on a sticky wicket. Neerja has catapulted Sonam to the status of an actress who can run an entire film on her own shoulders like Tabu, Madhuri Dixit, Sridevi and some others.

Kangana on the other hand has Tanu Weds Manu Returns and Queen to boast. Vidya Balan hasn’t had a release since Te3N (2016) where she made a guest appearance. Kahaani and The Dirty Picture are things of the past. She gave the audiences flops like GhanchakkarShaadi Ke Side Effects, Bobby Jasoos and Hamari Adhuri Kahani after Kahaani. Well, she has Kahaani 2 to bank on.

And where is Priyanka? She probably is too occupied making a mark internationally. A Bajirao Mastani last year and she is busy pursuing her international career. Kareena Kapoor Khan had Singham Returns in 2014 and Bajrangi Bhaijaan (2015) which were hits. A moderate hit like Udta Punjab (2016) doesn’t quite qualify her to be called the Heroine No. 1. And let’s not forget the forgettable Ki & Kaa (2016).

So, is it Anushka? Well, probably yes going by the business of her films. Even a mediocre film like Ae Dil Hai Mushkil starring Anushka has crossed the Rs. 100 crore mark in the domestic market. With three big films like PK (2014), Sultan (2016) and ADHM (2016) and a critically acclaimed and successful NH 10 last year, Anushka has critics and fans on her side. She exudes magic on screen and is improving in leaps and bounds as an actress.

So, the Sultan jodi of Salman and Anushka are the hottest stars in the Hindi film industry now. Their films make money and so does their screen presence. As of now, November 24 , 2016, Sallu and Anushka bag the top slots. Yet, the battle is not yet over.

Dangal (Aamir), Raees (SRK) and Kaabil (Hrithik) are set to hit the screens. So, the field is wide open. The number game could change. All eyes!


About digantaguha

To introduce myself, I am a journalist, blogger and have also taught Political and Sports Journalism in the Future Media School in Kolkata. I am currently working with Sports News Crunch as a Consulting Editor and as a Guest Faculty at the Techno India University. Over all, I have around 15 years of experience as a journalist having worked with esteemed publications like Hindustan Times, Business Standard, The Pioneer and others. You can contact me at Diganta Guha
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