I really wanted to do 3 news stories about Salman, so I could have a nice structure for my headline, but no luck! And also no luck in only doing one on him and 2 on someone else, because his 2 stories today are too big to ignore. And then I had to shove a 4th story in there because the Shahrukh rumor is too good to ignore. It’s all out of balance!!! Oh well.
First, Bollywoodhungama has the real money scoop on Sultan, not that it broke 300 crore yesterday, but what that means for the profits. They are projecting a 200% profit on the film, 70 crore for production and 90 crore for marketing (the same as Fan, I wonder if Adi has declared this as the new standard for all Yash Raj productions?). After adding together the overseas and Indian box office, plus home video and satellite rights (satellite, again, is the big money at 50 crore), and then subtracting the distributor’s share, they came up with 180 crore in pure profit. Pretty good!
But, maybe not! Because of clever old Jimmy Stewart. I already wrote about this back when the financials of Airlift came out and it was revealed that Akshay took a comparative pittance in salary, and asked for a cut of the net instead. Jimmy Stewart was the first big actor to do this, to take the money on the back end instead of upfront, and I’m not surprised that Indian stars are starting to do it as well. Basically, it’s the only way they can ever get any money. Their value is so high by this point, a “reasonable” salary would basically bankrupt a producer before the movie even came out. Better to take a percentage after the release, when there is money burn.
It’s also an interesting formalization of a long existing informal practice, where actors would do a handshake deal with a producer they trusted and ask for “whatever he can afford” once the movie was over. Shahrukh recently confirmed, again, in an interview, that from the beginning of his career, he never discussed money when signing a picture. Only after it was over and released, then he would ask for whatever they could give him. Which, of course, makes us all like Shahrukh. But I don’t think he could be the only star to work like that, at least back when he was starting out, because I just can’t picture little 10-something Shahrukh Khan coming to Bombay and announcing he was completely altering the financial system of the film industry. I’m guessing the “pay me what you can when you can” system was sort of the norm at that point, and now that corporations are involved, it has been changed into a formal “my contract guarantees 50% of the net” kind of thing.
Second Salman story: Heroine revealed! They cast an actual Chinese person, Zhu Zhu. She is in the Netflix series Marco Polo right now, and was in Cloud Atlas back in 2012. More importantly, SHE WAS IN A MOVIE WITH ANDY LAU!!!! One of those Hong Kong Andy Lau rom-coms that I love. And now she gets to co-star with Salman Khan.
(Andy Lau. You should know who he is, he’s kind of a big deal)
This casting is fascinating! First, it seems to indicate that they are serious about going after the Chinese market, since they aren’t just casting a random no-name person. Second, I really want to get Zhu Zhu’s take on what it’s like to work with megastar Andy Lau versus megastar Salman Khan. Third, they are making the first serious attempt at the Chinese market (I’m not counting Chandni Chowk to China, because that was stupid and insulting), and they are making it about the Indo-China war? Wouldn’t you want to make it about a time when China and India were actually getting along? Like a remake of Dr. Kotnis?
(Although, they did not cast an actual Chinese actress in Dr. Kotnis. So that was bad. But it was about an Indian doctor who gave his life helping the Chinese. So that was good.)
Done with Salman, on to Ritiesh! Well, really Ritiesh and Nargis. There was this whole furor because Nargis opted out of all the Housefull 3 promotions and kind of dropped out of India and out of sight for a while (secret baby? Probably not, I just always go to secret baby, because I like babies). But now she is back and promoting Banjo, which is produced and starring Ritiesh. And, of course, the reporters jumped on her in the promo press conference with questions about why she “disappeared” and what happened with Uday Chopra and is that why she disappeared and so on (probably if it had gone on long enough, one of them would have leaped to my same “secret baby” idea).
And, just like Aamir jumping in and answering for Kat during the Dhoom 3 promotions post-Bikini photo scandal, Ritiesh was very nice and gentlemanly and took the bullet for her, stopping the questions, according to Times of India:
“I am her spokesperson. Next question please.” Not only this, when another media person inquired her about why she was hiding her face upon her arrival at the airport, she said, “I usually travel like that. I was wearing the hoody.” Again coming to her rescue, Riteish added, “She used to come to the set like that. Nothing unusual in that.”
Now, Shahrukh! Another historic epic rumor! I am SO EXCITED about this news! Although I am also a little nervous that the earlier rumor about a historic epic with Aditya Chopra was actually being confused with this movie, meaning we won’t get that Aditya movie which I am much more excited about.
Anyway, this epic would be with Sanjay Leela Bhansali (boooooo!), but would co-star Deepika and Shahid (yay!!!). And the story sounds PERFECT for Shahrukh! It’s supposedly based on the tale of a Muslim ruler who fell in love with a beautiful Indian queen and went to war to win her.
Depending on how Bhansali plays this, he could have Shahrukh in full sneering lustful evil mode, or do a more nuanced depiction of him as a wise and successful ruler brought down by love/lust. The real guy, Alauddin Khilji, according to wikipedia, both committed massacres, and instituted tax and agriculture reforms. Tax and agriculture reforms! That can be filmic, right? I mean, it kind of worked in Jodha-Akbar? Anyway, I think tax reform is interesting! They should make more movies about tax reform!
(See, if kings reform the tax system to spread the economic burden more equitably, then Aishwarya Rai will have sex with them!)
I’m still not thrilled by Bhansali doing yet another historic love triangle, and especially nervous about all the “Muslim king coming for our women” overtones to it. But the casting! That is so thrilling, I am willing to forgive everything else! Shahrukh with a role that uses all his dramatic chops, and is age and position appropriate (older but still powerful and heroic). Basically, I am picturing his character in Fan, only as a medieval ruler instead of a movie star.
Dips playing anything is always good, and Shahid really really needs a hit! He kind of always needs a hit, doesn’t he? Every movie for the past few years, it feels like, has done just good enough to keep him at a certain level, but no more. But this could be very good for him, give him the kind of Shakespearean epic role he does so well, but in something that could also be a box office hit. Plus, I assume, lots of battle scenes, which will help him keep shaking off that “chocolate hero” tag.
Speaking of chocolate heroes trying to age up, here’s the other interesting part of this news, it was supposed to be Ranveer Singh in the role as the 3rd leg of the triangle. But post Bajirao, and that huge career boost it gave him (plus the other boost that is probably coming with Befikre), he is rumored to have backed out as he doesn’t want to play a supporting role any more. And now Shahrukh has stepped in to play support.
Now, this either means that the circle of life is continuing, Ranveer has stepped up to leading star position and Shahrukh is stepping back to supporting. Or, Ranveer is being stupid and doesn’t realize that “there are no small parts, only small actors” and it would be better to take this role and knock everyone else off the screen with what little he is given, than to pass it up and wait for a bigger part in a smaller movie. But Shahrukh knows he will shine all the brighter if he manages to make more of an impression in a smaller “bad guy part” than Shahid does with the larger role.
Bonus points for my favorite line from “The Fantasticks”!
Did I quote it? I didn’t mean to (love the soundtrack, read the play our of curiosity, never actually seen it)! Which is kind of cool, it means I just picked a quote up by osmosis.
I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to be harsh. I’ve been extremely angry ever since I read this post this morning, and have been waiting to calm down to comment, but I still find it infuriating.
The anger is not against you, but against the extremely distorted picture you seem to have obtained about the character of Alauddin Khilji, which you think SRK would be great at playing. Contrary to what Bhansali would have you believe, this is no “love” story. Khilji was an invader and marauder, who had captured and bedded many previous wives of Hindu kings. Hearing about Padmini’s (or Padmavathi’s) great beauty, he was determined to possess her, too. Please note that the two never met. Through a series of betrayals, he kidnapped her husband, luring her to his camp to rescue him. Later he went to full out war against the king. When it looked like the Rajputs were about to lose, all the ladies of the court committed mass suicide through burning themselves (known as Jauhar) to avoid being captured by the Muslim invaders and being made their sex slaves, which is what happened to all captured women.
Not much of a “love story”, is it? And certainly not an “anti-hero” role for SRK, but an out and out horrible villain.
When Bhansali first announced this film, I was filled with dread, thinking, “I sure hope he doesn’t try to turn this into one of his trademark stupid love stories!” Alas, as more details came out, that’s exactly what it is apparently going to be, and my reaction then was, “I doubt it will release, considering the kind of protests it will raise.” I may be wrong about the latter. The kind of history being taught in Indian schools nowadays is so distorted and diluted, that the present generation may not be aware of the details of this story. So we shall see. But I don’t think trying to whitewash Khilji’s historic role is going to fly. This is one of the most famous legends of India, and even if you question its veracity (not like Bhansali is hung up on historical accuracy), it is still what is in the public memory.
As far as the SRK rumor goes, I think that’s all it is. He’ll never take this, because for one, it’s just not that interesting a character. Also, I doubt that the film makers can afford him. But, in the broader view, it will be extremely stupid to have a Muslim actor playing one of the most vilified Muslim invaders, and paint him in a benign light. I’m sure SRK is too smart to fall into that trap. (SRK has played very few Muslim roles, anyway, and they have always been “noble” types.)
Sorry, I tried to keep this as brief as I could, but it still became longer than I intended.
I know that history and interpretation of Indian history has been a bit of a battle-ground for years (the British changing things to fit the narrative that made them the “saviors”, and then the struggle to recover the history they had overlooked). And I’ve been following the recent occasional story about the efforts to update or alter textbooks.
Thanks for providing the perspective of someone who learned the legend, no matter what is in the history textbooks at the moment. I’ll be curious what Bhansali does with it. As you say, in terms of historical veracity, he can kind of do whatever he likes, the whole thing happened in the 1300s, so it isn’t like there is one clear definitive “source” that gives exact details of what occurred.
If Shahrukh does take the role, that would be a sign to me that the film is going to treat the legend carefully. Even if Shahrukh’s character is fully “evil”, I don’t think he would be part of a film that vilified Muslims and Muslim rulers to the extent that some versions of the tale do. I would expect there to be a sign that religion is separate from his actions, or that there are a large number of “good” Muslims who object to what he does.
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I guess this proves my theory that SRK loves doing a negative role once in a while.He probably considers it a palate cleanser.Considering that SLB is the man behind, there’s every chance that Padmavati’s death will be glorified more than her life.Khilji will probably build a city or statue in her honor and mourn all his days about how his saccha pyar for Padmavati unwillingly led to her suicide.
I’m with Moimeme on this one.It is horrible they try to justify Alaudeen Khilji’s pursuit of Padmavati (who from all accounts was pretty much happy with her husband) as ‘love’. Suppose Khilji got his hands on Padvavati there’s no way he’d give her time to come around on her own free will.In other words SRK as Khilji wouldn’t be sleeping on the floor like he did with Divya’s character in Deewana.No way!
But if the movie prove to be popular enough it will make the whole generation after 2017 believe that Khilji has softer feelings for Padmavati.I’ve seen it happen with the Malayalam movie ‘Oru Vadakkan Veeragatha’.The scriptwriter and famous author M.T.Vasudevan Nair reinvented a popular ballad making the villain Chandu the sad misunderstood character who’s taken advantage by everyone around him,even the heroine (who’s been turned into a scheming vamp).Chandu’s master act of villainy, ie stabbing his cousin(and the hero of the original ballad) while the latter was sleeping after a duel is turned into a grievous misunderstanding.What is horrible is that the entire generation after the movie came out in the early 80s believe that M.T’s version is the gospel.So yes, the truth can be subverted if the new version turns out to be more popular.
I’m with you, that Shahrukh likes the occasional negative role. It makes me picture a very different character, to have SRK cast, than the original casting with Ranveer Singh as the Khilji. That sounds more like a traditional “love triangle” type cast, Ranveer and Dips and Shahid.
If Shahrukh is being considered, I could see him much more willing to go dark and straight up “bad” than Ranveer. Heck, even Deewana, he starts out pretty scarey and stalkery, breaking into her house on Holi and stuff. And his Asoka character wasn’t so much “shades of grey” as “had a psychotic break and turned straight up evil for much of the film.”
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Years ago, SLB directed the albert roussel opera Padmavati for the theatre du chalet in paris, which was based on an Awadhi poem, so I’m sure those will be his primary inspiration.
If I know my slb films, placing my bet on her death being beautiful and tragic and heroic, her husband will be handsome and noble and Alauddin Khilji will be repentent of his beastly lust and become a better ruler thanks to the brave lesson she taught him.
Your bet sounds likely to me! i looked up that Opera, did you see that it was originally written in 1923 by a Frenchman based on a French translation of the poem? So If SLB follows this tack, he will be doing a historical story from the 1300s by way of a poem from the 1500s, translated by a Frenchman, and then turned into an Opera by another Frenchman in 1923, and finally interpreted by SLB in the 2000s.
Which seems about as far removed from “reality” as his pictures always are!
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Can you recommend some of your favorite Andy Lau romantic comedies? That sounds great to me! I’ve only seen him in the Wong Kar-wai films, martial arts epics like House of Flying Daggers and Shaolin and, of course, Infernal Affairs.
i am out of date on Hong Kong rom-coms and I am sure there are better ones out there now. But the two I really really liked were Needing You and Love On a Diet.
Thanks! I’ll check those out. I noticed that he did a remake of What Women Want with Gong Li (who I LOVE) in 2011 that I’m going to try to track down as well. A few months ago, I watched a Telugu movie called Manmadhudu with Nagarjuna Akkineni and Sonali Bendre that was “partially inspired” by it, as well. This was one instance where the Indian version was more logical. Instead of suddenly being granted powers to hear women’s thoughts, he simply bugged the office. Sleazy and unethical, sure, but it made a lot more sense!