Salman Khan isn’t just an actor who works in Hindi movies. He is a brand, a movie genre and a public icon all rolled into one. Every few months, there is a new film that stars Salman in the lead role and we are way past the point where those films are judged for any bit of art they might carry. They are defined by the statement – It’s a Salman Khan film. That one statement tells the viewer what the film is about, what one should expect from it and what you will experience in the theatre.
We ask why? Who watches a Salman Khan film?
Since Wanted in 2009, Salman’s career saw a resurrection that could not have been planned even by the best of marketing wizards. He had discovered the magic potion that made him the Pied Piper and the audience was left in a hypnotised state. They would blindly follow wherever he pointed, be it to the movie screen or the TV and looks like the hypnotic effect is still working.
By now, we know about the hype around a Salman Khan film. The euphoria inside a theatre the moment he makes his hero entry can be seen by all, be it the loyalist or the staunch haters but the unexplained fandom requires no proof. Salman is bigger than the films he stars in and even his audience realises the same. His films are critic-proof because here the audience doesn’t need a guinea pig, they know they want to go for it and anyone who says otherwise must brace themselves for a good session of trolling.
The audience for a Salman Khan film isn’t specific to a particular city or state, it is massy in the true sense of the word. The fanatics are enough to spread the good word of mouth, whatever might be the content, but the haters too line up just so they have enough content to bash it. In the end, Salman always comes out as the winner.
But how long is this stardom going to prevail? We are beings of the digital world who are instantly drawn towards clips where a woman asks her ‘fraands’ to have ‘chai’. Being a celebrity comes quite easy as compared to the olden days but this celebrity-hood comes with a shelf life. Salman’s celebrity status has a much longer shelf life but at some point, even that will witness a decline. When that day comes, the audience will find another Salman but as far as Bollywood loyalties go, this one will always remain a case to study.