Will Shah Rukh Khan be left jobless if Zero tanks at the box office, is the question most trade analysts are breaking their heads over right now. Will the superstar lose his throne following a flop?
Statistically speaking, that’s what the meter indicates.
Let’s rewind a bit to understand the dip in Shah Rukh’s erstwhile steadily rising stardom graph.
When two and two do not make four. (Source: Red Chillies Entertainment/Twitter)
Imtiaz Ali is known for his heartwarming love stories that make you want to curl up in bed with a cup of hot cocoa and wail like a baby! Naturally then, when he was set to partner with the king of romance, the audience expected magic. Jab Harry Met Sejal, instead, became the very proof of how two and two do not always make four. At least, in the world of cinema.
Thought SRK brooded and brooded and almost gave Jon Snow a run for his money, the film apparently managed to recover only about Rs 64 crores from ticket sales of the reportedly Rs 90 crores it was made on.
When 'dimag' and 'daring' both failed. (Source: YouTube screengrab)
A lot was riding on Raees that came right before Jab Harry Met Sejal, too. But it ended up being just another ambitious project with a tepid performance at the box office. Raees was up against Hrithik Roshan’s Kaabil, a film that in itself is nothing great, but in comparison, seemed better. That’s saying very little about Raees that can actually boast of some really suave dialogues. But even 'baniye ka dimaag' and 'miyaan bhai ki daring' couldn’t make Raees work.
When chasing charisma over content didn't work. (Source: YouTube screengrab)
2016 saw Shah Rukh Khan’s Fan, and his fans saw Fan — but his fans obviously didn’t like what they saw. The movie had great potential, it had a storyline that could have been turned into something magnificent. But it fell short on every threshold.
But nothing did more damage to the Shah Rukh Khan image than Dilwale — simply because it possibly ruined the 'it' jodi of Bollywood in our minds.
The Rohit Shetty directorial brought SRK and Kajol back together and decided to bank on just that instead of a coherent storyline or performances. Rohit had himself admitted in an interview that he had altered the original script to make room for the Raj-Simran kind of mushy romance.
Result? All dil(wale), no soul.
When Raj and Simran missed the train. (Source: Red Chillies Entertainment/Twitter)
But come to think of it, none of these projects is any different from any Shah Rukh Khan film you might recollect in the last 25-30 years. There’s a lot of romance, there’s a bit of action, there is some dancing and some more romantic songs, and there is that characteristic, trademark arm-stretch. So, where on God's earth does SRK go wrong?
Perhaps the answer lies in the career paths of the other two Khans — Salman Khan and Aamir Khan.
Hear me out.
When exchanging places didn't pay off. (Source: YouTube screengrab)
Aamir had very early established himself as the 'content-driven' actor, while Salman Khan was going to be the actor with the 'mass appeal'. Every time either of them tried to exchange places — Dhoom 3 and Thugs of Hindiostan, and Jai Ho and Tubelight respectively — they’ve failed.
Where does that leave SRK?
Somewhere precariously balanced in-between. SRK is expected to maintain his spot and make sure he doesn’t even the slightest bit as much as tilt in the others’ domain. He is expected to give us ‘content’ in the ‘massy’ way, without becoming too ‘preachy’ or too ‘crass’. If you thought that sentence needed simplifying, imagine what it’s like to be SRK at Mannat, sorting out scripts.
When expectations are too big to handle. (Source: YouTube screengrab)
But does a zero return from Zero mean a point of no return for Shah Rukh? In a recent interview, SRK addresses how he fears this very thing, “God forbid, if this film [Zero] doesn’t work, what will happen? Maybe I won’t get work for six months or 10 months.” And in Bollywood lingo, 6-10 months is a lifetime. Imagine where the Ranveer Singhs and the Rajkummar Raos will be by then?
Yes, it could be a blow and a rather big one. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the end, perhaps just a new course. If in the drought of Dilwale-Fan-Raees-Jab Harry Met Sejal, Dear Zindagi could be an oasis, there is hope.
Perhaps Shah Rukh’s craft will come full circle with Zero. And here's the thing — even if he fails, he still remains the Baazigar.
Also read: Zero movie review: The Shah Rukh Khan, Anushka Sharma and Katrina Kaif starrer 'Zero' stands out as a misfit