Calcutta, Aug. 14: Between I-Day and Id will be decided how easy the box-office Khan crown sits on Salman’s head.
The questions enveloping Ek Tha Tiger, the Salman-starrer that hits the theatres tomorrow, are about numbers. Big, big numbers.
Will it be the biggest Bollywood blockbuster of all time? How soon will it reach the Rs 100-crore club? Is the 3,300-screen domestic release too little or too much?
But the real question is: will Salman leave the other two Khans — Aamir and Shah Rukh — far behind in the numbers game?
Aamir’s 3 Idiots is still the highest grosser of all time with Rs 202 crore in its kitty. But with Ek Tha Tiger releasing on Independence Day and enjoying an extended weekend (Id may be on Monday), the Rs 202-crore target isn’t looking all that big.
The biggest single-day record — Rs 22.8 crore, held by Shah Rukh’s Ra.One — is expected to be broken on Day One itself and the first Rs 100 crore to be in the bag within the first six days. But will Ek Tha Tiger sustain the start to march past the next Rs 100 crore?
Industry insiders feel the Kabir Khan film co-starring Katrina Kaif “has the content that Bhai’s last few films lacked”.
The Yash Raj Films production revolves around a RAW officer named Tiger, played by Salman, who falls in love with Katrina’s Zoya on one of his missions.
Ek Tha Tiger had its first private screening in Mumbai on Monday night “for Salman and his friends” and the film is supposedly a rollercoaster ride with the right dose of action and romance. That the romance is with Katrina, the reigning queen of Bollywood and Salman’s ex, makes the movie that much more “wanted”.
“I don’t think anyone apart from Salman could have done justice to Tiger,” says director Kabir Khan, summing up the actor’s current brand value on screen. “Tiger is a legendů. Salman is a legend too. From the moment he walks onto the screen, you know he is larger than life. No one else apart from Salman could have established that.”
Salman’s last year’s releases — Ready and Bodyguard — were both mammoth openers but weak content meant that they didn’t have long running legs. That Shah Rukh’s twin releases later last year — Ra.One and Don 2 — couldn’t match or cross the figures clearly announced, though, that Salman is the biggest Khan of the Bollywood box office.
Aamir hasn’t had a big release since 2009’s Christmas release, 3 Idiots. His last release, Dhobi Ghat, directed by wife Kiran Rao, was a niche arthouse film that was never meant to rock the box office.
“Humongous, thunderous, gigantic,” is how trade analyst Taran Adarsh describes the box office prospects of Ek Tha Tiger. “Never before for any film, whether it’s Ra.One or Bodyguard, have entire multiplexes been devoted to one single film. It’s unprecedented. The first week should ensure collections in the region of Rs 150-160 crore, which is more than the entire run of Bodyguard.”
Whatever figures Ek Tha Tiger notches up, SRK can only challenge it in Diwali and Aamir even later in the year. And neither of those films are action movies that have been the flavour of the box office. Shah Rukh will come with Yash Chopra’s untitled romance while Aamir with Reema Kagti’s murder mystery, Talaash.
Akshay Kumar and Ajay Devgn, both of whom recently stepped into the Rs 100-crore club with Rowdy Rathore and Bol Bachchan, also have a shot. Akshay with Joker and Ajay with Son of Sardar.
But as of now, nothing seems to have come even close to the pre-release hysteria whipped up by Ek Tha Tiger. Says the Calcutta distributor of the film, Kushagra Jalan: “What’s incredible is that not only are most of the shows sold out on Wednesday, which is a holiday, 70 to 80 per cent of the non-holiday Thursday shows are already booked. And if you thought Salman films are only about single screens, even the plex shows are being block-booked and filling really fast.”
The Khan wars have been on for more than two decades now but Ek Tha Tiger may have the loudest roar on who’s the lion at the box office.