Just announced, Anushka’s going to be opposite Salman in Sultan! Which means, she will be opposite all 3 Khans within 3 years (Jab Tak with SRK, PK with Aamir, and now Sultan). Not as impressive as when Kat hit them all within 15 months (Ek Tha Tiger, Jab Tak, Dhoom 3), and she got to kiss two of them onscreen (and presumably the other in real life), but still pretty awesome!
So, how does this change my prediction for the Raees/Sultan Eid Box Office clash?
Actually, not much! Although it does tell us a little more about what kind of movie Sultan will be. All we know so far is Yash Raj, Salman gained a lot of weight and shaved his head, and opening opposite Shahrukh’s super gritty looking period bootlegging movie (no, not 1920s, this is India, not America: 1980s).
(see, 1980s! No, I couldn’t actually tell that from the trailer, I wiki’d it)
So, now, Anushka! She is a good reliable little Yash Raj workhorse. Discovered, launched, molded, done everything they’ve asked of her and more. So, first, she’s probably there to act as a levelheaded balance to Salman’s completely random and unpredictable working methods.
Second, Anushka’s got some heat to her right now, post NH10 and Dil Dhadakne Do (okay, also Bombay Velvet, but no one blames her for that). If she is willing to take the part, and Aditya Chopra is willing to use her, it means they’ve got some faith in this film. They could have dumped it on some random Shruti Hassan type, but they are putting a leading member of their stable in this thing.
But all of this is meaningless, box office-wise, because Sultan was always going to sweep it. Raees is not going to be a big box office film, we already knew that. Director whose most famous previous film was a searing realistic look at the 2002 riots, featuring an incredibly specific and obscure time period and locale, and Shahrukh playing a glasses wearing, bearded, Muslim, gangster? It’s like Chak De, but without the patriotic message, and with guaranteed massive protests. I’m calling it for 70 crore now, 140 tops (if they manage to avoid protests). If it gets a limited international release, maybe up to 150 to 200 once you bring in the global box office.
And I am so excited about that! Forget the box office, forget the horse race, just go back to the acting! For both of them! Let Salman obey the dictates of the Yash Raj empire, let him act opposite an experienced professional who will challenge him to grow, let him do a script that is good enough to get Aditya Chopra to put one of his most promising protogees on it, all of this sounds awesome!
And let Shahrukh go back to his roots, working with a somewhat obscure and very talented art films director, disappearing into a part, revealing that little edge of mania and danger that first got him noticed.