Hindi Film 101: Virat Kohli, Shahrukh Khan, Upside Down Mortgages and Starpricing

Well, here’s exciting news!  For the first time since these things started being tracked, Shahrukh Khan is NOT the most valuable celebrity brand in India!!!!  Instead, he has been knocked off his perch by Virat Kohli.  Which made me start thinking in a different way about Virat, about Shahrukh, and about all the other perches Shahrukh should be knocked off of.

Virat and Shahrukh are seemingly two very different people, but in terms of appealing to the Indian market they have one important thing in common: they love their wives.

Back when Shahrukh started to build “Brand SRK”, he even did TV commercials with Gauri, literally selling their young love as part of selling products.  It allowed him a unique sort of crossover appeal, to young men who wanted to be him (famous, rich, cool action scenes) and young women who wanted to marry him.  Young women of course being the more important audience in terms of brand power since housewives tend to control purchases more than husbands.

Virat has been having a more or less public love affair for years now, going so far as to blow kisses into the stands to his then-girlfriend Anushka.  The wedding between him and Anushka was a massive public event that the whole country watched, including an appearance by Shahrukh himself.  And the show continues, recently, after achieving 150 runs in a match, Virat took a moment to kiss his wedding ring for the TV cameras.


To clarify, I don’t think either the Virat-Anushka or the Shahrukh-Gauri romance and marriage is fake, or just for the cameras.  I think they both happen to include husbands who are naturally exuberant and public in their love.  And couples who are savvy enough to see how the public responds to that exuberance and use it for their own advantage.

But it’s not just about the happy-happy love-love persona, you also need the actual accomplishments to back it up.  And this year, Shahrukh failed miserably in those accomplishments.  It’s not just that the audience was turned off by his films, it’s that he got the stink of failure on him, which turned them off him as a person.  And a brand doesn’t want to be associated with a failure, they want success.

I don’t follow Cricket, but I am assuming that Virat is on a good enough run that people would still want to be like him.  Add on his new fame as Anushka Sharma’s husband, and you’ve got a man who can sell anything.  No wonder his brand value is now priced at 144 million while Shahrukh has slipped to only 106 million.

(He also seems to perfected the “connect important social movements to brand identity” kind of persona in a very “you’ve come along way baby” Virginia Slims sort of way)

It’s not just Virat who is making moves in the brand market.  Akshay jumped up the list, and so did Dips.  Alia and Varun are also in the top 15 as of this year, and so is female tennis star P.V. Sindhu.  The advertising market is reflecting the changing face of India.


The brand isn’t driven wholely by the box office, Shahrukh has been on top as a brand value for forever, and his box office has severely fluctuated before (remember that whole Asoka-Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani period?).  But box office is a part of it, proof that he is a successful person, a person you want to be.  And this year, he has not been a box office wonder.

Bollywoodhungama ran the figures for us and came up with a list of top 6 actors in 2017:

Salman Khan: Tubelight 119.26 crore, Tiger Zinda Hai 325.74 crore, average per film 222.5 crore

Ajay Devgn: Baadshaho 78.1 crore, Golmaal Again 205.69, average per film 141.89 crore

Varun Dhawan: Badrinath Ki Dulhania 116.68 crore, Judwaa 2 Rs. 138.61 crore, Average per film 127.64 crore

Akshay Kumar: Jolly LLB 2 Rs. 117 crore, Toilet – Ek Prem Katha Rs. 134.22 crore, Average per film Rs. 125.61 crore

Hrithik Roshan: Kaabil Rs. 103.84 crore, Average per film: Rs. 103.84 crore

Shah Rukh Khan: Raees Rs. 137.51 crore, Jab Harry Met Sejal Rs. 64.33 crore, Average per film: 100.92 crore

Arjun Kapoor: Half Girlfriend – 60.30 crore, Mubarakan – 55.59 crore, Average per film: Rs. 58 crore



Shahrukh, also for the first time since, well, ever, has dropped off the top 5 box office earners list.  And he has been elbowed out not just by his old rival Salman (who had his own terrible flop last year to atone for), but by the younger generation, Varun is higher than he is.  And Shahrukh’s biggest flop in forever was right in the center of his brand, a love story.

Shahrukh’s brand is success and love.  His failure in Jab Harry Met Sejal manages to destroy both of those concepts.  He is no longer “The King”, and he is no longer “The Lover”, all at once.  So, where does he go from here?  His value on the market has shrunk and younger rivals are taking his place.

Heck, where do they all go from here?  Salman is saved by Tiger, but without its massive success, this would be a bad year for him too.  Ajay, without Golmaal, would be in the same place.

The solution is simple, to lower their prices and make smaller films.  But they can’t do that, because they are still perceived as expensive.  It’s the upside down mortgage problem.

The upside down mortgage means that your house has so lowered in value that you are still paying off a mortgage that is higher than what your house is now worth.  That’s where Shahrukh is now, along with many of his generation.  They are still paying off on their past fame in a way that makes it impossible to take the films that reflect their current fame.

(It’s not actually all about the money.  It’s about how the money is perceived)

Shahrukh’s failures last year put him below Badrinath Ki Dulhania, Judwaa 2, Kaabil, Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, and Jolly LLB 2.  So, logically, his next films should be lower budgeted, lower promoted, just overall smaller than those films.  While Varun Dhawan should be moving up and getting the bigger and bigger productions.

But, Shahrukh can’t do that.  Despite the on paper value of his name slipping, he perceived value is such that once he is attached to a film it becomes a “Shahrukh Khan Film” and therefore is immediately priced out of the range he can now reach.  This is what he mentioned in the Ittefaq promotions, he loved the script, but he knew he couldn’t be in a film like this and have it be the film it is supposed to be.

And this is what they are all facing, all these big names of the 90s.  Let me take a brief detour.  Remember in 2016 when there was all this fuss about how many celebrities were dying?  I read a smart person in a comment on another site who pointed out it was false correlation.  What really happened was a new kind of celebrity culture which blossomed in the 60-70s thanks to the growth of television, international connections, mass music companies, etc. etc.  And because that celebrity culture began in the 60s-70s, the majority of the first generation of these celebrities are dying now, 50 years later, as they reach old age.  It’s just a function of time since certain changes happened, that’s all.

(WAQT: the Race Against Time!  Also, a reminder of the kind of stupid film Akshay used to do before Twinkle gave him an ultimatum)

The 90s era of Hindi film stars, they were the first to get the massive international media attention of the kind the industry has today.  And so they feel “bigger” than stars since them, just because they were the first.  They are bigger in a lot of ways, yes, but they are also shrinking now and struggling to get out of the shadowed outline of what they used to be.

They have all come close to succeeding in breaking out of the trap of who they used to be.  Ajay in Golmaal, playing the wacky comedy guy instead of the action hero.  Akshay in his serious social dramas instead of his action-comedies.  Aamir of course, with his various character tics and tricks that let “Aamir Khan” disappear in front of our eyes.  But its still a struggle.  They can’t just mix in the smaller films with the bigger ones, or take a smaller part if they like the script.

Anil Kapoor, for instance, in 1999 played the second hero in Taal, a special appearance in Mann, the hero’s friend in Biwi No.1, and the hero in Hum Aapke Dil Mein Rehte Hain.  For the next several years to today he has mixed together hero parts with supporting roles, and it hasn’t seemed to cause any massive cognitive dissonance for the audience, it wasn’t a huge story in the media, it was just where his career went at that point.  Anil was only 15 years into his career at that point, when he started to slip at the box office and let his prices drop, Shahrukh is now 25 years into his career and most of the other 90s brigade even longer.

(Anil Kapoor, moving on to comic relief roles, 10 years younger than Shahrukh is now)

The market needs to adjust around them.  Their value needs to be corrected and recalculated.  And, as important, the value of others needs to be increased.

Virat Kohli is now, accurately, considered a bigger brand draw than Shahrukh Khan.  But the same consideration needs to take place in the film industry as in advertising, that smaller subsection of the Shahrukh brand needs to do the same assessment as the larger brand world.  It’s harder to assess then simply looking at this list.  Varun, for instance, can you consider Judwaa 2 fully his hit, or is it also partly a hit of Salman’s?

But looking at 2017 as a whole, certain films stand out as doing significantly better than expected.  And from those films, certain actors also stand out.  Rajkummar Rao, Ayushmann Khuranna, Arjun Kapoor (right below Shahrukh!), along with Varun, are all on their way up.  Sushant Singh Rajput, depending his next release, would be on this list too.  Ranveer didn’t have a release in 2017, and Ranbir only had the troubled Jagga Jasoos, but both of them are generally hitting as consistently as the 90s brigade by now.

The 90s stars are now being over-valued, not in terms of their actual film payments, but the kinds of films that are being made around them, the expectation that they can open and serve as the lead for massive massive productions.  But the new stars are being undervalued.  They are being kept in small films with lower budgets, or big films that eclipse their center characters, instead of having films built around them.  Where is Ranveer’s Raees?  Or Varun’s Tubelight?  Or Rajkummar Rao’s Toilet: Ek Prem Katha?  Or Arjun Kapoor’s Baadshaho?

To go back to the upside down mortgage idea, these young actors are the houses in the undiscovered neighborhoods, the ones that someone needs to snap up and spend a little money on paint and decoration, and then resell for twice the value.

(Remember, Shahrukh needed quite a bit of work himself before his “house” had any value.  Also, young Kabir Bedi!!!  My My!!!)

41 thoughts on “Hindi Film 101: Virat Kohli, Shahrukh Khan, Upside Down Mortgages and Starpricing

  1. P. V. Sindhu is a badminton player, not tennis.

    I don’t think Rajkumar Rao’s goal was success in commercial films, was it? He’ll certainly take it if it comes, and he may even want to do more commercial films in future, but I don’t think he was exactly “slumming” by doing his more arty films. And I would say he’s already had his Tiger Zinda Hai type of success this year (not Raees or TEPK), by being appreciated for every film he did — from carrying an entire film on his own and making it work in Trapped — especially notable for being an offbeat film; to getting rave reviews in an out and out commercial film like Bareilly ka Barfi (sorry I may not have the title exactly right); to not only getting great reviews for his performance in Newton, but having it be selected as India’s official Oscar entry. So I think he’s riding quite high at the moment.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It’s not so much that I want Rajkummar to get more acknowledgement so he has personal satisfaction, it’s more that I want the industry as a whole to start expanding their vision and leaping on these opportunities that they seem to be ignoring. It could be that Rajkummar is getting tons of mainstream leading role offers and turning them down because he doesn’t want them, but my perception is that he is still not even being considered for those roles, the big films are still being offered to the same old 90s actors over and over again instead of considering new options.

      On Wed, Jan 17, 2018 at 1:03 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:



      • But isn’t that like saying you wish Naseeruddin Shah got the same roles as Amitabh Bacchan? Everyone can’t play everything.

        As for the younger generation, I think they’re getting the bigger films. Ranveer has two humongous big budget films — Bajirao Mastani and the ill fated Padmavat. The first was a large enough hit (and he got a lot of mileage out of the fact that it clashed with SRK’s film), and even if Padmavat fails commercially (which it probably will), it won’t be seen to be his fault, but due to all the screw ups along the way. Varun is steadily getting up there with the big budgets (Judwaa 2 and Dilwale), while still being “small”enough to be able to mix in his more experimental films like October. Both these guys have delivered consistently at the box office, and they will continue to get bigger and bigger films.

        Your real complaint should not be that they are not getting the big films like the Khans, but why Ranbir still keeps getting the big and even huge films, despite setting box office records on how big a disaster he delivers with each succeeding film. Maybe Rajkumar Rao can replace him? 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. And, I hate to say this to you, but neither Salman nor Aamir are yet in a downward mortgage situation. Tubelight was an aberration in an almost decade long string of continuous blockbusters. I know you hated TZH, but please don’t let that blind you to its success at the box office, or what it meant for the Hindi industry as a whole. So these two are not in the same position as SRK.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I was thinking about that, looking at this list, and that’s why I started to expand my thinking beyond just the 3 Khans and more to the entire 90s group of stars. TZH was a big hit in India, but weak overseas, much weaker than Salman has been in the past. And the same is true for all of this “big” films with “big” stars. Shahrukh is the most glaring example, because the perception of him is so high and therefore so out of kilter with the reality of his value, but it’s also true for others. I’m thinking of the “surprise” success of Fukrey and Mubarakan versus Golmaal. Golmaal was expected to do well not because it was a comedy film, but because it had Ajay Devgan in it. But if you look at the three hit comedies of 2017, it looks like the audience went for the comedy rather than for the star. That’s what I am thinking about, that it’s not about a particular star, but this whole mindset that the stars (especially the aging male stars of the 90s) are the biggest/only draw for a film.

      It varies actor to actor, Salman is riding high right now and so is Aamir, but in general I think that the 90s stars are being over-valued in terms of star power, as reflected by the size of the film that is built around them. While the newer generation is being under valued in terms of the size of film they can carry. To take Shivaay as an example, a film that big and expensive shouldn’t have been greenlit with an assumption that Ajay could carry it alone. And it might have done better if, say,John Abraham or Siddharth Malhotra had been the lead instead and the focus had been on the unusual action scenes and the film as a whole instead of thinking that a star from the 90s still had the drawing power to carry it all.

      On Wed, Jan 17, 2018 at 1:07 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:


      Liked by 1 person

  3. This analysis is a little too convenient and pat, IMO. For example, Virat is getting a huge amount of criticism currently for poor performance of the Indian team and the kind ‘yes man’ players he has gathered around himself. Hype from sports is always iffy and not as long lasting as a movie star’s. There were years when Dhoni and Tendulkar also used to compete with SRK as the biggest brand but faded since sports competence relies so much on youth.

    For box office too, I think you are undervaluing both SRK and Hrithik. A flop always skews things but their top grossers did come in a big clash and both are able to open movies much, much better than the likes of Akshay or Ajay or any of the younger guys like Ranveer and Ranbir. Where they are failing is content and that I think is easier to fix than just a disinterest in the actor the way it has happened to Saif Ali Khan.

    None of the younger actors are getting the truly big movies because the market knows their value. Just like some time had to pass after Bachchan before the Khans showed up, I think it will take some time before the next superstars come. I would put Ranveer/Ranbir/Sushant is the same class as the one Anil Kapoor/Jackie Shroff were in when they were squashed between Bachan and the Khans. I don’t think the next real superstar has arrived yet. Perhaps in the next few years.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I go back and forth between thinking that the next superstar hasn’t arrived yet and wondering if it’s merely that the industry hasn’t adjusted to give space for the next superstar. That’s what I am thinking about with 90s stars versus earlier actors now, because there is this odd reluctance (it feels like) to let them go. Maybe people keep wanting to keep Shahrukh and the others around because it is so easy to watch their classic films and find classic posters and photos of them and therefore they are lingering in the collective memory longer than makes sense based on their present day popularity.

      And the other part of it is that it seems harder and harder for the 90s stars to drop back voluntarily. JHMS, as we have all discussed ad naseum, should have been a much smaller release with much smaller promotions, but because it was a Shahrukh film, it wasn’t allowed to sneak out to theaters like the small art film it was. I’m looking at Zero and wondering if it is the same thing, and hoping that Race 3 with Salman gets the same kind of release as the other Races instead of being pumped up into something huge.


  4. Not only has the next superstar not arrived yet, my prediction is there won’t be a next superstar at all. Of if there is one it will be someone like Aamir, who is a star without a real star persona, at least not in the way that SRK and Salman have personas. My belief is that people passionately identified with SRK and Salman in a way that simply isn’t happening with the younger generation. And this is a worldwide phenomenon that is connected to and fueled by the internet and new technology. Aamir in a weird way seems to understand the landscape much better than his peers. He isn’t on social media as much but that means he has a mystique which is valuable in a market where stars are so damned accessible.

    (Keeping in mind I’m very new to Bollywood but very much not new to Internet culture, communications technology and the creation of celebrity in the US)

    (and FYI, this is Alisa but I couldn’t get the Facebook login to work)

    Liked by 1 person

    • You may be new to Indian film, but you’ve hit exactly the kind of arguments people are making. The other side to it is that the industry has shifted. With bigger and bigger studios coming in, the power of the star is being overshadowed by the power of the corporation. And the corporations don’t actually want stars, they want to run things themselves.

      Of course, then the question comes as to how we define “culture” if the majority of the Indian population still does not have internet access. It’s growing very rapidly, but what I am seeing is that it was only 26% overall in India in 2015, with the vast majority being male. So it’s possible that there is a massive disconnect between how internet users are experiencing cultural phenomenon and non-internet users. Both in terms of their experiences since they have internet, and their experiences as the smaller part of the population (urban, wealthier, male) that actually has the internet right now. And I truly have no idea how to track the non-internet users! Short of flying to India and going around to people and saying “hey! Do you go online? If not, what do you think about celebrity culture?”


      • That rural-urban divide is worldwide. Here in the US you would be shocked at how many areas don’t have high speed internet. And they experience the culture completely differently.

        You are so right about the corporations not wanting stars. That’s why there are so many franchise movies out of Hollywood. But the latest Star Wars was a shocking flop so that well may have run dry. I don’t think anyone knows what the formula will be in the long run.


        • The corporations not wanting stars is part of the reason I find it so fascinating that the top stars in India are all trying to BECOME corporations! It’s like some sort of sci-fi novel, “we will fight them by becoming what they are”. Amitabh Bachchan, the biggest star in India, also founded the first entertainment corporation. Which then went bankrupt and was a huge disaster, but the idea was there, that he saw the writing on the wall of corporations about to move into the industry and decided to maintain his power by incorporating his stardom. And now Shahrukh has his increasingly massive Red Chillies Empire (a kind of underlying theory for his flops, he just doesn’t care any more about his films because he is moving his power elsewhere), Aamir’s “a” films has these huge success on its record, and even Salman keeps expanding his company, recently announcing a talent search wing.

          On Wed, Jan 17, 2018 at 3:13 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:


          Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow~pretty harsh remarks regarding SRK…and all those excited exclamation points are just screaming out ‘schadenfreude’! I think that now that he is such a failure with nowhere to go but down you might think about just not writing about him anymore. You’re starting to sound like the American version of Pinkvilla. And, by the way, you might want to learn the proper usage of ‘its’ and ‘it’s’~if you’re going to be the new fan girl of Mr. Perfection!


    • I try my best, but the little “its” “it’s” typos are always going to slip between the cracks.

      I am a Shahrukh Khan fan, obviously, but the numbers don’t lie. He is slipping right now and as an analyst, I have to consider the reasons why that might be and where he could/should go from here. The bigger question with all the 90s actors is a simple matter of age. Even if we are happy to keep seeing them play older and older protagonists, they are human, and eventually they will all be too old to keep working at this pace and something will have to come to fill the gap.

      On Wed, Jan 17, 2018 at 3:21 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:


      Liked by 2 people

  6. Do you follow the “Most overpaid Hollywood actors and actresses” lists that Forbes does? Do you think the audiences, the film makers, and the funders, are more or less forgiving of flops in Hollywood? It seems to me that actors continue getting work at top dollar based on reputations in Hollywood for years and years after they stop doing anything new or of quality. Some actresses do too, but not as many.


    • I’m not an expert on Hollywood, but it seems like they might be more forgiving of flops partly because they care less? Everything in Indian film is so star driven, all the media coverage of a film is based on that. Heck, even this calculation that Bollywoodhungama does as a sum up of the year is interesting, it’s not based on genre’s or film studios, just stars. So if Johnny Depp has a series of flops, no one really notices. Because no one has to notice, it’s not like he alone is responsible for half the profit of the entire industry (the way it is true for the major Hindi stars).

      And reflecting the outsize power and focus on stars in Indian film, I believe most of them no longer take “salaries” but rather co-produce most of the films they appear in. So it is hard to say, for instance, that Shahrukh was overpaid for Jab Harry Met Sejal, when his “payments” came out of the box office for the film and distribution charges, and he ended up paying the distributors back out of his own pocket. The same is true for Salman and Tubelight.

      On Wed, Jan 17, 2018 at 3:22 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:


      Liked by 2 people

  7. Also I think BW needs to become more cognizant of the fact that not every movie is cut out to be a blockbuster no matter who it stars. Ranveer might have gotten a hit in Bajirao but cannot with Lootera. Salman might get a blockbuster with his Tiger movies but most certainly won’t with Tubelight. Comparing one actor’s smaller/niche film with another actor’s blockbuster type film is silly and disingenuous. It would be a nonsensical argument to compare say.. Fan to Sultan.

    Because of the obituaries that get written when trying newer, more different, perhaps smaller scale movies makes all actors reluctant to do them at all and then we get stuck with all trashy tentpole Golmaal and Race sequels. I understand the need for the industry to make money but at the end of the day there should be some pushing of the envelope and some form of art happening too.

    As far as brand value is concerned, despite Virat crossing SRK this year, SRK still reigns supreme as far as BW is concerned despite the very poor year he’s had in terms of box office – also ironically the best year most of his male colleagues have had in a long time. Displacing him is still a tough job if they can’t do it even in their best years compared to one of his worst years. He will linger on in the top 5 well into his 70s just like Bachchan. SRK is one of the few whose appeal is above box office numbers now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ll expand your argument that it is farcical to compare Fan with Sultan to point out that they were funded and promoted on a similar scale. It’s not just that the media is reporting the box office as though they should be similar, the films were produced in the same way. That is what I think is ridiculous, and seems to be limited to just the top male stars of the 90s. Like you say, Ranveer can do Lootera and Bajirao, and one film can be promoted small and one large. But somehow every Shahrukh (Aamir, Salman, Ajay, Akshay, Hrithik) film has to be the same size.


      • Promotion is not relevant IMO especially since most promotion the top stars do is totally free. SRK is on record saying he spent almost zero on promoting even Ra.one since he had tie-ups with various brands and they funded most of it. Going on TV shows is again completely free since they want the ratings that come when a movie star is on their channel.

        The cost of the movie itself is a problem if the market is not there for a certain type of movie. Though I think actual budgets of BW movies are very hard to know. There are people who pretend their movie is very high budget when it’s not while others look lush but aren’t. For example, how much did Fan cost to produce? SRK himself charges nothing and has said this many times. He will take a cut of the profits if it makes money which in this case even he would know it isn’t going to. There was no lead actress and no shooting in foreign locations. Not even any big songs and sets. Whatever money was mainly for VFX and how many of us here are experts to know what that would have cost? The Indian media spreads lies and false stories 90% of the time so who would know other than the people who made it?

        So what is the solution? Just keep on making 70s style masala movies to make sure it fills the single screens in Bihar and Bombay and mock movies that make less money than those? That might be okay for the here and now but it’s akin to a speeding car that’s going to fall off a cliff sooner or later. If nobody wants to move the industry further in terms of both subjects and technology, eventually the end is coming as more and more people will shift to exclusively watching HW movies that offer other content.

        I don’t know about the other actors but SRK has specifically said he goes into certain movies knowing he’s going to take a loss because after working 25 years, he isn’t stupid enough to believe something like Fan can work on any large scale. In fact, with Dilwale, he tried to distribute the movie himself mainly because he wanted to cut out the middlemen because those people put ideas in your head about what movie won’t work, what will work, ask you to put in stupid things “sir, add some comedy, add an item song” and “this won’t work in Delhi” or whatever. Dilwale was supposed to make it possible for him to do whatever he wants in the future by removing all these people. I suspect he pissed off lots of people (just like he pissed off the whole media with PBDHH that harassed him for years afterwards) and had a lot of trouble with theater bookings both with that movie and with Raees.

        But then, if a wealthy actor/producer with resources isn’t going to try to take things further even if it means sinking his money – in his case technology being his pet cause – who will? Maybe he’s doing it at a time when there isn’t a market for it but I think he’s betting that there will be one at some point. He might not be able to capitalize from it but his company will be better placed for it and maybe it will reap rewards if his children enter the industry later.

        I just don’t think he’s in the “keep making masala blockbusters!” frame of mind because then his movie choices would have been totally different compared to what he’s been choosing lately.

        Liked by 2 people

        • It’s not so much the monetary cost of promotions that bother me, as the message it sends to the audience and the rest of the industry about expectations for the film.

          You’re right, the promotions usually don’t cost much for a big star film. But that doesn’t mean they have to do quite so much of them. It’s a sign to the audience that this is supposed to be a massive crowdpleaser, and then when it isn’t, the audience gets angry. And it’s a sign to the industry that this is supposed to be a massive all India hit, and then when it isn’t, they get angry. A conscious effort to NOT promote a film, similar to how Ittefaq was released, might be a better option.

          I want Shahrukh, and all the older stars, to keep experimenting and making different films, but I want them to be released in such a way that there is space for other up and coming actors to find appreciation, instead of the promotions dominating every news cycle and the film being on every screen.

          That part of it, that is on the rest of the industry more than the stars. The producers and distributors and so on, they are the ones that I would like to re-assesss their values.

          Liked by 2 people

  8. I don’t like some of the things you’ve said here about Shah a Rukh. Where do you come off? Honestly, I know you are entitled to your opinion, as wrong as it may be…. but still. Your words seem a little too harsh, a little too unnecessary and a little angry? Are you angry with him for some reason? Saying he needs to get knocked off some of his other perches, he’s no longer a lover, he’s no longer King. Says who? You?
    You’re wrong Madam, Shah Rukh is and will always be King, he will always be the Romeo of all our hearts and he is still #1 in our hearts, in the news and on the silver screen. If you are writing a blog, do so. But don’t write it as if you are here to judge and pass unnecessary rude statements.
    Maybe I’m upset because I happen to love him and I’m very bias and very protective of him. So if I’m coming off rude I apologize, I just take great offense when ever he’s abused publicly and I cannot sit by without putting my 2 cents in.
    Have a good evening.


  9. This is the saddest thread I’ve read since I started reading your blog and since I became a Hindi film fan. I sincerely hope that you are not correct about Shah Rukh. I agree he is moving more toward studio building, partly out of the understanding that he can’t act forever and partly out of his need for the new and partly out of his desire to build made in India businesses. While flawed, Fan was a very good movie as was JHMS and its so sad that they are being called flops, not only by you but by Shah Rukh himself. Maybe his next direction is TED Talks. That Tiger is a success only speaks to the fact that movie going audiences do not have such great taste.


    • I didn’t mean for it to be sad! Life moves on, the audience is not reacting to Shahrukh’s last few films. Shahrukh himself has already moved on, split his identity more and more between actor and business person. I am simply calling for the rest of the industry to recognize this change, not just in Shahrukh but in all the stars from the 90s, that they are moving on to new phases of life and it is time for the industry to let them do it.

      Personally, if Shahrukh being less of a “star” means more Fans and Jab Harry Met Sejals and fewer Dilwales and Happy New Years, I am fine with that. And I also like Shahrukh as a person, if being less of a “star” means that he can spend more time with his family and learn to relax and enjoy life instead of working all the time that is good to. I just want his new interesting films to be released in a way that they can find an audience that loves them instead of be considered “flops” because the vast majority of the audience couldn’t understand them, and to be produced in such a way that Shahrukh-the-actor can fully focus on his work instead of splitting attention between “actor” and “businessman/promoter”.

      Liked by 2 people

      • SRK is too much of a workaholic and too restless as a personality to take it easy and relax. He may shift his focus to something else but he will still be going crazy in whatever area he chooses.

        We’ll see what kind of movie he announces after Zero. That should be a good indication of whether he plans to double down on the ‘different’ films he’s doing or if he’s going to move towards safety again like Salman did with all his upcoming masala sequels after Tubelight.

        Also a nice article with Aanand Rai talking about Zero and SRK’s future. I think Rai is the best director/producer in India right now. I absolutely dislike Hirani’s childish movies but Rai I think is the more grown up version.


        Liked by 1 person

        • I’m torn about Rai, because I haven’t much liked him as a director but I have really enjoyed everything he has produced. I think there is a particular sort of flavor he adds to his own work that I just don’t like. But in terms of spotting talent and stories, he is excellent. I’ll be curious to see if Zero is more like the stuff he has produced that I have liked, or the stuff he has directed that I haven’t.


  10. I’m really enjoying the variety of perspectives on this thread. I don’t have a good enough grasp on “the industry”, nor do I watch enough movies to comment on overall trends–who’s coming, who’s going, who’s the next big thing. But I like reading different interpretations of the data. I can say that tailoring your product to your audience, and reaching out to the right audience, are key in any communication related field, so it makes sense that would be true of movies and promotions also.

    I appreciate that Margaret can step back from her fan feelings about Shah Rukh the star, the actor, the producer, and the person, to look at his place in the industry related to other stars, actors, and producers. I can switch to her more objective perspective for a bit, then go right back to my passionate support for all of his efforts. And if I want Margaret’s fan perspective on SRK–there are plenty of posts for that to go back and revisit, and more coming I’m sure!

    I’ve said before here that I find it so interesting how protective Shah Rukh’s fans are of him. I feel that way too. I’ll never forgive Anupama and Rajeev for so deeply misunderstanding JHMS. 🙂 But I also believe that Shah Rukh is incredibly tough, and has built (with Gauri) a personal life and a career that really works for him. I’m sure he is quite clear-eyed about changes in the Indian and global film industries and where he’d like to put his energies now and in the future. Doesn’t mean his feelings don’t get hurt or he doesn’t get disappointed–but he’s got lots of financial security, support, and coping mechanisms. And he must know that there is a core of passionate fans who have his back no matter what–even if he doesn’t talk to us on Twitter anymore. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for appreciating my attempt at objectivity! I have said before that I try to draw the line between “Margaret the fan” and “Margaret the analyst/reviewer”. I can think he looks really beautiful and hot in Dilwale, and still acknowledge that Dilwale was not a great movie. And I can also still admire and respect him as a person and acknowledge that his box office has dropped off and it might be better for the industry if fewer resources were spent on his films and more on the films of other younger stars.

      On Thu, Jan 18, 2018 at 7:33 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:


      Liked by 2 people

  11. What a great and fascinating reading…of both, your analysis and all the comments. I am not astonished that you got flack…when one loves ShahRukh it isn’t easy to take a step back from feeling protective 🙂
    As I have completely faith in ShahRukh’s abilities and knowledge concerning his work and the mechanism of the filmindustry in addition being conscious about certain tendencies which have nothing to do with his actor-persona, I am just curious about his future decisions 🙂

    Like Alisa, I think that there won’t be any more superstars (considered like ‘Gods’, loved ‘unconditionally’, being like a member of the family) in Hindi cinema coming from the generation of Ranbir-Varun etc. I completely agree with you, Margaret, that there is the beginning of a shifting…it will be interesting to watch the development of Hindi/Indian cinema in the next five years.


    • Yes, I am frustrated with how the industry as a whole seems behind the times but if anything the stars themselves, Shahrukh included, are leading the way in pushing the industry forward. And seem very aware that they themselves, or at least the perception of them, is part of the problem. I’m not hearing that Shahrukh or Aamir or Salman are telling producers they want to go “bigger and bigger”, if anything they seem to be the voices saying “smaller and smaller”.

      On Thu, Jan 18, 2018 at 2:02 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:


      Liked by 1 person

      • What I would like to know in an honest way is the dimension of the superstar’s involvement (and probably changing) of the director’s vision of the movie (concerning your “bigger” and “smaller”).


        • Yes! Especially with the 2017 movies. I feel like Raees must have gotten “bigger” from its initial concept, but I’m not sure how. I just know that the realistic story of a small time bootlegger somehow didn’t seem to match with the big romantic song in the sand dunes, or even the very aggressive poster campaign and multi-screen release. And JHMS, it feels like there was a last minute reassessment, it was released on many fewer screens internationally than Raees, and moved back a week to stay off of a holiday weekend. Someone somewhere knew that it should go “smaller” but it was already too late by then to pull it all the way back.

          And beyond Shahrukh, was it Aamir who decided to keep his role in Secret Superstar small and to focus the promotions on the story? To release on a small number of screens? Was it Salman who pushed for Tubelight to have a much larger international release than it could sustain?

          I know the superstars were involved at some level, and also that the production companies and distributors were involved somewhere, but where and when and how and who said what?

          On Thu, Jan 18, 2018 at 2:35 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:


          Liked by 1 person

      • “” Like Alisa, I think that there won’t be any more superstars (considered like ‘Gods’, loved ‘unconditionally’, being like a member of the family) in Hindi cinema coming from the generation of Ranbir-Varun “”

        This made me think about what Karan wrote in his book – those young actors, can’t be loved like SRK, or Salman, because they don’t want to show their soft spots, their real faces. And how can I love you, if I don’t know you?

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yes, that was one of his most interesting comments I thought! Especially as it related to how he hosts Koffee With Karan, not looking for the “gotcha” moments that make you hate or feel superior to the stars, but just to make them human.

          Tying this in with the other post from today, what I really liked about Dabboo’s photo of Varun is that he managed to break through that star shell and make him “soft” again. All actors have their “camera” faces, but it feels like the older stars were more likely to drop that camera face and give us something real.

          On Thu, Jan 18, 2018 at 2:52 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:


          Liked by 1 person

  12. Interesting conversations.
    I would think Shahrukh did things differently at a time when all others followed a different formula.
    Now most of the industry follows norms he once initiated – performing at personal functions, stints in TV, ad endorsements, brand ambassadors and so on and on. Over time it has all become a formula that everyone works with. What’s new to do now? Is it the setting up of corporations and some consolidation again without having so many production houses?
    Also there was a time stars were just what the word meant – a bit of mystique, twinkling glittering daily companions yet out of reach. Today with social media and mushrooming radio and international sites there has been an overdose of feed about them. They seem very next door and not a star. However they are not people next door. They play people next door – that’s a persona. We seem to increasingly mix up their persona and their individual personalities.

    Salman IMO has done what the south actors do – a signature dialogue, a signature move, a barely there heroine and a formulaic content. No greater motivation just ensure film is a success and makes money. Of course he has built up a following by giving many people a hand up when they were striving for a break. He has fantastic business acumen and a knack for what will and will not work. Hence a very bankable actor today.
    Aamir chose to go cerebral over brawn. To me these 2 are like the Rajnikanth and Kamal Hassan of Tamil cinema. A loose analogy about their acting styles and content they put their backing to.

    Unlike their seniors what the 90s stars were unable to do was act, make a trauckload of money and then sit back on their laurels and keep reaping premiums. Too many disruptive elements – TVs, cable, internet, streaming services. It was no longer make a movie go watch at theatre. The content and the medium of delivery mattered. And the divide between urban and masala India grew. In the midst came the 100cr business returns and that turned everyone’s head around. I agree with M that the senior actors today are already thinking about what’s ahead and in their own way tying to make the industry turn the corner. The industry PR and marketing guys need to think ahead.

    I am waiting to see what SRK does. Something is cooking in his head. There is a passion to do content but he needs to figure out where he went wrong earlier. I am hoping he goes multi starrer with smaller roles for him and lesser promotion all around. Or a limited episode series on hotstar or alt Balaji. A full circle coming back to where he started. On the small screen. Reconnect with audiences again across all ages and then make a big movie having had time to think through. Preferably play a role where he looks nothing like himself. Start as an old man and in flashbacks have his usual self but just make the actor disappear and the character reign. He has been making more and more references about his theatre roots. Stage a play maybe.

    I have concerns for Zero. It’s being touted as so much. Usually that has spelled disaster in the recent past.

    JHMS in my view should have not been more than 60 million maybe pushed to 80 million at max. It was an intimate take about a relationship between 2 people with minimal cast and the use of music to move the story on thereby not making the songs superfluous. But there was too much promotion and hype. And I feel Imtiaz got star struck and perhaps enlarged Harry’s perspective. I wish there had been more of Sejal for that would have balanced and perhaps brought out the nuances. Bitter and angry SRK is not fun on screen. But unless he is bitter how does he break the Happy go lucky “Rahul” persona? (M karan and he should make that angst story ya for hotstar or Netflix)


    • Fascinating thoughts! I hadn’t thought before about how the 90s stars had to work harder to navigate the new media landscape. Perhaps along with my feeling that the 90s stars are being given more credit than the younger crowd, I should think about the non-acting ways they have earned that credit, growing with the media and learning how to dominate it in a way that the younger stars do not. Which makes it harder for people to know how to use them, since they grew famous in a unique time that is now beginning to pass, letting them have the glamour of stardom along with the “just an average person” sense brought by the new kinds of media.

      What you are talking about with JHMS is the kind of thing I am concerned about, directors being “star struck” and inflating their roles, producers and distributors increasing the release and promotion. There is still this sense that the 90s actors, all of them, are untouchable amazing kings who can do no wrong. Which has never been true, they have all had flops mixed with hits through out their career, but somehow they have become bigger than their own legend now, people expect them to do the impossible and refuse to look away from them to other options, whether it is smaller different films or smaller different stars.

      Now that I think about it, that Anupama Chopra article on Salman kind of revealed how this problem affects clear thinking. She was discussing Salman as this untouchable hit machine, which is just not true. But somehow the nostalgia and star sparkles and everything else is blinding people to the reality that every star has failures and every star has hits and no one is untouchable.

      On Fri, Jan 19, 2018 at 1:13 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:


      Liked by 1 person

  13. Pingback: Monday Malayalam: Munthirivallikal Thalirkkumbol, the Artificial Divisions Between “Love” and “Marriage” | dontcallitbollywood

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