Ah! The Khans!

What is it about the three Khans – Shah Rukh, Aamir and Salman that makes them a formidable force to reckon with in Bollywood more than two decades after they made their debut?

Even as I write this, Salman Khan’s latest film, ‘Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan’ has released with a bang to full houses. Actor Salman Khan has returned to the silver screen after four years on the festival of Eid with his action drama. Salman Khan films usually get released on Eid and their release is no less than a festival.

Although critic reviews are polarised, the whistles in cinema halls are louder – a clear indication that fans are elated to see bhaijaan back on the silver screen. Before this, he did a cameo in Shah Rukh Khan’s Pathaan.

Which brings us to the other Khan – Shah Rukh, who took the entire nation by storm with Pathaan last month. He too, had come back on the silver screen after a long hiatus and how! Despite his last flop four years ago and son Aryan’s arrest in a drugs-related behind him, his fans went berserk when he did the hook step in the ‘Jhoome Jo Pathaan..’ song.

The third Khan, Aamir may be down but now out after the box fiasco of ‘Laal Singh Chaddha’. He continues to enjoy a huge fan base. Such is the track record of the three Khans that one flop does not affect their stardom. Together, they have been successfully ruling the roost for the past more than two decades and have managed to consistently raise their stardom to new heights. All three actors have consistently dominated the Hindi film industry for so long. This is not to say that there haven’t been other successful actors. It’s just that others may have come and gone but the Khans have stayed and audience interest in them has not waned all these years.

So, what is it that makes the trio tick? All three have worked hard to be where they are today and have gone through their share of ups and down, yet they have managed carve a niche for themselves, separately as actors and together as a force.

Each of the Khans is a trendsetter and is unlike the other. All three have different identities and excel at them. Apart from their film identities, it is their persona in real life that sets them apart. Each of them has endearing qualities that attracts fans to them. Of course, the task has become easier at a time when social media has brought stars and fans closer. Besides, stars get a lot of opportunities and platforms in off screen to show their real-life persona to fans. More than fifty decades earlier, the original Khan of Bollywood, Yusuf Khan or Dilip Kumar reached such heights solely on the basis of his acting prowess. But that is another story.

Despite choosing negative roles at the beginning of his career, Shahrukh established the image of an eternal romantic superstar, the quintessential hero ‘Rahul’ and ‘Raaj,’ Aamir comes across as a no-nonsense perfectionist who can do nothing wrong, while Salman is the do gooder bhai, the badass, a Robinhood in both real and reel life. All the three Khans come across as well-bred men with solid values who care both for their families, the society at large and the nation.

Much has been written about on social media and in the press about animosity and an ego clash between the trio. All three have chosen not to respond and have let their real-life camaraderie do the talking.

Apart from the Khans, there are other two – Akshay Kumar and Ajay Devgn who spring a surprise with every movie they appear in and have reached this far purely on the dint of merit. Together with the three Khans, these five form a strong fist that still rules the roost in Bollywood. And All of them are so to say, on the wrong side of 50 now. It is an indication of the changing times and of course their calibre that all five are still playing the lead role in films and what is more, are being accepted by the audience. Just to mention in passing that Amitabh Bachchan was already playing a father in Mohabbatein at this age.

So, will we see the Khans, Kumar and Devgn as fathers in the near future? No, if we go by Salman Khan’s super confident statement a few weeks ago when he talked about new heroes.

“All of them are hard-working. All (are) very focused. But the five of us are not going to give it up so easily. Ab five mein kaun hai (who are these five people)? Shah Rukh, Aamir, me, Akki and Ajay,” he said.

“We will give them a run for their money. We will tire them out. Hum logo ke picturein chalti hai, hum price badha dete hai. Woh uske chakkar me, jab hume nahi milta, price badha dete hai. Kyu bhai (We increase our fees after the success of our films. Now to combat that, these people too increase their prices when we are not available for films. Why so?”

Bhai has the last word!




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