In Bollywood, the festival of Eid has become synonymous with Salman Khan as the self-proclaimed “Bhai” often uses the holiday to release his films. Khan’s latest Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan was being described by many as nonsensical right when its songs and trailers were released.
But still box-office pundits seemed sure that despite negative critical reviews and despite elements like Khan’s physics-defying action, a formulaic “masala” story and a heroine with a considerable age gap compared to its 57-year-old hero, Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan would be a hit given the huge fanbase that Khan has.
Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan couldn’t be the Eid hit it was supposed to be with the film not capitalising much on the Eid-ul-Fitr holiday (Saturday, April 22). Released a day earlier on Friday, Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan managed to rake in only Rs 15.81 crore. A day later, on Eid-ul-Fitr, the film collected Rs 25 crore. As compared to his other Eid releases, the Farhad Samji-directed film marked Khan’s second-lowest opening day collection.
The lowest has been 2010’s Dabangg which despite collecting Rs 14.10 crore on its first day still managed to be a hit in the subsequent weeks. With Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan’s budget estimated to be around Rs 150 crore, the film will make more than its budget by the end of its first week. With a few more weeks on the big screen, the film can be declared a hit but it is highly unlikely for it to earn enough to become a superhit or a blockbuster.
From Friday to Sunday (April 21-23), Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan’s total domestic collections were estimated at Rs 64 crore (according to industry tracker Sacnilk).
This is in stark contrast with more successful opening weekends for other recent Salman Khan-starrers such as Sultan (Rs 180 crore), Bharat (Rs 150 crore), Prem Ratan Dhan Payo (Rs 129 crore), Tiger Zinda Hai (Rs 114 crore), Race 3 (Rs 103 crore) and Bajrangi Bhaijaan (Rs 102 crore), Kick (Rs 83 crore) and Dabangg 3 (Rs 78 crore).
Not all of these mentioned movies have been Eid releases with some being released during festivals like Christmas. Irrespective of the holiday in question, Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan has indeed underperformed, at least on its opening weekend as it struggled to reach the Rs 100 crore mark.
Since the breakout success of Wanted, Salman Khan became a bankable star whenever it came to family-friendly remakes of Tamil and Telugu blockbusters. He evolved as a masala star par excellence even as his films began getting more and more illogical with hardly any sensible storyline in sight.
But that was the whole point of a Salman Khan film (barring occasional critical favourites like Bajrangi Bhaijaan). From shirtless scenes to awkward dance moves, a Salman Khan movie celebrated the larger-than-life persona of its leading man more than anything else. But with the critics relentlessly mocking Khan’s latest venture, it seems like the fans are also exhausted of Khan’s monotonous brand of self-aware heroism and siding with the critics this time.
Post-Baahubali, the Telugu film industry perfected the art of marketing a blockbuster as a pan-Indian film as can be seen from the overwhelming success of 2023’s RRR. The popularity of the Allu Arjun-led Pushpa: The Rising (with a sequel releasing this year) bears further testimony to the pan-Indian formula. The Kannada film industry also joined the bandwagon with both films of the KGF franchise becoming some of the highest-grossing Indian films of all time.
Coming to Bollywood productions, collaborating with South Indian actors and releasing the Hindi original in Tamil and Telugu dubs are reliable strategies as can be seen from the pan-Indian success of the YRF Spy Universe films like War and more recently, Pathaan.
Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan unabashedly attempted to market Salman Khan as a pan-Indian star who can be relevant in the Telugu-speaking states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Not only was veteran Telugu star Venkatesh roped in for a major supporting role but some of its songs were also pictured in the South with hints of Telugu lyrics. When he was not busy sporting shades and long locks of hair, Salman Khan appeared on the film’s posters wearing a formal vaishti (even if Khan would continue calling it a lungi).
Even RRR star Ram Charan made a guest appearance on the song Yentamma, performing his famous “Naatu Naatu” hook step alongside Khan. And yet the film failed to make a mark in the South.
Pathaan’s record-breaking success right from its opening weekend (collecting Rs 280.75 crore) further added to this theory. One of the three Big Khans of Bollywood, Shah Rukh Khan returned as a lead actor after a five-year sabbatical.
And even though the film garnered controversy over the music video for Besharam Rang, the so-called “Streisand Effect” worked in King Khan’s favour with Pathaan which as of 6 April, has had a stunning domestic collection of Rs 654.28 crore and a worldwide gross of Rs 1050 crore.
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Even Pathaan’s opening day collection on a Wednesday (January 25) was Rs 57 crore with the opening weekend amassing a domestic total of Rs 280.75 crore.
What worked majorly in Shah Rukh Khan’s favour was that he made his absence felt. Struggling with flops and critical duds like Jab Harry Met Sejal and Zero, Khan was losing his starpower in terms of box-office collections. But with a significant sabbatical from lead roles, Khan made full use of his romantic hero persona while also rebranding himself as an action hero.
ALSO READ: Pathaan Movie Review: King Shah Rukh Khan is back with great action, forget the screenplay
The action sequences of Pathaan are undeniably over-the-top but still convincing enough to not be trolled to the levels of Salman Khan’s antics in Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan. Despite featuring Deepika Padukone and John Abraham in its ensemble and its ties to the YRF Spy Universe, Pathaan was largely regarded as a celebration of its hero’s sheer “heroism”.
The same was to be expected from Salman Khan’s latest venture but the box office numbers are bleaker than the expectations.
Regardless of how Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan performs in the coming days, Salman Khan still eyes a blockbuster with Tiger 3 releasing in theatres on November 10 this year. With both previous installments of the Tiger franchise being major money earners, Tiger 3 might prove that Salman Khan’s star value still matters.
As his own cameo alongside Shah Rukh Khan in Pathaan garnered popularity, Shah Rukh’s proposed cameo as Pathaan in Tiger 3 is also bound to win over dedicated SRK fans (or SRK-ians as they call themselves). Further, as of now, Tiger 3’s parent franchise, the YRF Spy Cinematic Universe, has proven to do record-breaking business.