Director Rakesh Roshan’s Shah Rukh Khan-Salman Khan-starrer Karan Arjun was one of 1995’s biggest box-office successes. Rajkumar Santoshi’s Andaz Apna Apna with Aamir Khan and Salman the previous year did not make similar money, it earned just a moderate amount, but over the years it has achieved cult status among comedy buffs. Considering that the Khan pairings of the past have each made their mark in different ways, it’s only natural to wonder why no one has yet cast (or managed to cast) Aamir and Shah Rukh together in a film or, better still, got all three of them in a single movie.
In 2014, Salman Khan completes 25 years as a leading man in the Hindi film industry – he started this journey with Maine Pyar Kiya in 1989, following an inconsequential supporting role in Biwi Ho To Aisi. Aamir Khan made his debut as a Bollywood hero in 1988 while Shah Rukh was winning hearts with his small-screen debut Fauji in the same year.
It was in this context that I asked you this poll question in the last week of December 2013:
WHY DO YOU THINK A BOLLYWOOD FILM STARRING SHAH RUKH KHAN, AAMIR KHAN AND SALMAN KHAN TOGETHER AS THE LEADS HAS NOT YET BEEN MADE?
Here’s how you voted:
3.7% of you voted for this reason: Because no Bollywood producer can afford their salaries for a single film
6.1% of you picked: Because even if a Bollywood producer could afford to pay all three Khans their usual salaries, it would be an unviable project, too expensive to recover its cost
2.5% chose: The three Khans don’t want to work together because of professional rivalries
4.9% believe: The three Khans don't want to work together because of personal animosity
26.8% (that’s a majority of you) voted for this reason why you believe an SRK-Aamir-Salman-starrer has not yet been made: No one has as yet written a script that’s worthy of such a casting coup
12.2% selected a reason that I thought would get very few votes (it turns out I have a much higher opinion of the Hindi film industry than you do): Bollywood is incapable of ever writing a script that’s worthy of such a casting coup
1.2% of you voted for a reason I assumed would get 0 votes: The stars’ fans wouldn’t want them to work together
2.5% of this blog’s readers think: Nobody is interested in seeing such a film
18.3% of the votes, that’s the second highest number, went to: The combined effect of their salaries, egos and insecurities would be impossible for any producer or director to handle
0% votes went in favour of: The stars don’t have dates
0% again chose: It’s too risky. What if such a film is started today and they are no longer as major stars by the time it’s completed?
2.5% felt: Bollywood does not have a director who would not be intimidated by their combined presence
18.3% said (and this makes it a tie for the second spot): All the above
1% cast their vote in favour of: None of the above
First, I learnt an important lesson in this poll: formulating questions in a poll is not easy. I often get irritated with TV channels and newspapers for asking questions that I’ve felt were designed to manipulate my response to them, yet here I forgot to add a crucial option that I myself would have liked to exercise as a voter: some of the above. I know this not just because some of you told me so, but because I too can’t pick any one of the above options. My answer is a combination of “some of the above”.
Without that option, my vote would have echoed the majority view here: No one has as yet written a script that’s worthy of such a casting coup
I believe a Bollywood film starring Shah Rukh Khan, Aamir Khan and Salman Khan together as the leads has not yet been made because Bollywood has for years lacked the imagination to write a script that would merit such a casting coup. My reasoning goes beyond that though. Certainly there has been more experimentation in the past five years than there was in the formula-ridden 1970s-90s, but unfortunately, the three Khans have grown in stature and box-office clout as the industry’s risk-taking abilities increased. This means the Khans are getting more expensive to hire with every passing year. This means that a script accommodating each of their strengths would require even more imagination now. No doubt Bollywood has talents out there that are capable of writing such a script, but unless such a writer has the support of an adventurous, risk-taking, moneyed producer with the power to persuade the three Khans to look past their personal equations, that script will remain on paper or won’t be written at all. And until Step 1 has been taken, until such a script has been written with the support of such a producer, where is the question of approaching the Khans and figuring out whether they’ll say yes or no?
This is not to say that convincing them will be easy. After all their unprecedented longevity has been at least partly built on a rivalry that has often been bitter. Getting past that would be tough. The challenge would be compounded by the fact that a successful joint project has the potential to benefit their careers jointly, not singly. Why would anyone work so hard to help an arch rival rise in stature? Alternatively, there would be the fear that one of the three would emerge from the project looking better (more talented, more charming, more good-looking) than the others. None of these hurdles would be insurmountable though if that first step was taken.
After all, if Garry Marshall could assemble Julia Roberts, Ashton Kutcher, Anne Hathaway, Jennifer Garner, Jamie Foxx, Bradley Cooper, Patrick Dempsey, Jessica Alba, Jessica Biel, Eric Dane, Hector Elizondo, Queen Latifah, Kathy Bates, George Lopez and Shirley MacLaine with a clutch of young stars including Taylor Swift in Valentine’s Day in 2010; if Steven Soderbergh could manage to get Kate Winslet, Gwyneth Paltrow, Marion Cotillard, Matt Damon, Laurence Fishburne and Jude Law together for Contagion in 2011; then a lot is possible.
In the past, when asked if he could manage the ultimate casting coup for Bollywood, producer-director Karan Johar has laughed off the possibility, once telling a journalist that if he were to make such a film he would end up in hospital. Frankly, despite what he says, if any director could manage such a casting coup, it’s KJo. What he needs first though is the appropriate script backed by one of Bollywood’s big studios (his Dharma Productions is unlikely to be able to financially afford such a film). If ever those two elements – a great script and a rich studio – fall into place, allow me to be an optimist: I do believe the three Khans could be persuaded to star as joint leads in a film.
That’s it on this subject. A new poll is up on the right-hand-side panel of this blog: please vote for your choice of Bollywood’s Best Actor in 2013.
Warm regards and a Happy New Year to all my readers,
Photographs courtesy: (a) Chennai Express: Disney UTV (b) Dhoom 3: Yash Raj Films (c) Dabangg 2: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dabangg_2