It still doesn’t seem real. Nobody from the film fraternity or from the trade and even the haters on the internet expected Thugs Of Hindostan to be such an underperformer that it’ll struggle to even reach the Rs. 150 crore mark. A similar dud like Race 3, starring Salman Khan, managed to collect Rs. 166.40 crore in its lifetime. Certainly, the hope was that even in the worst case scenario, Thugs Of Hindostan, that stars Aamir Khan, who has more credibility, would at least cross the Rs. 200 crore mark. But then, box office has always been unpredictable and in this case, it was astonishing and scathing to say the least.
As always, talks began whether the end of the Khan era is near, since even Salman and Shah Rukh Khan have disappointed off late with films like Race 3 and Jab Harry Met Sejal respectively, in recent times. Some even started claiming that Aamir Khan’s image has taken a severe beating with this film as it had very poor writing and direction and this was certainly not expected from a perfectionist like him.
However, all these talks are completely unfair and unjustified. One single flop doesn’t mean the end of the world. And that especially is for Aamir Khan. His last flop was more than thirteen years ago, Mangal Pandey – The Rising , which coincidentally was also a period flick based during the British Era. After that, he gave ten films as a leading actor and five of them – Ghajini, 3 Idiots, Dhoom 3, PK and Dangal – were blockbusters. He surprised everyone with Taare Zameen Par and Rang De Basanti, both of which are considered as two of the finest films of Bollywood. Talaash was the only film that was an average and not a hit, but in no way it was a flop. Besides these ten films, he appeared in two more films in supporting roles – Dhobi Ghat and Secret Superstar. These films weren’t huge hits but again, weren’t debacles either and it did well as per the genre and lack of mainstream appeal. In the interim, he also earned respect with his social TV show ‘Satyameva Jayate’ which added to his image of an actor who does socially relevant blockbusters.
Thus, as one can see, Aamir Khan is in his league of his own. The audiences would certainly forgive and forget him for Thugs Of Hindostan and would wait for his next with bated breath, like every time. And one doesn’t need to strain their brains to find a similar example. Think Salman Khan who gave a dud last year with Tubelight. Six months later, he wowed audiences with Tiger Zinda Hai and it turned out to be his biggest grosser till date!
Trade experts are also in agreement. Girish Johar, film trade and business analyst, says, “Aamir Khan has too big a stature to be affected by one debacle. In fact, when the next Aamir Khan will be up for release, there will be even more excitement. Knowing Aamir, he has to come with a bang.” Trade analyst Taran Adarsh echoes similar views, “Brand Aamir Khan is not affected. Flops are a part of the industry. He has gone through some great phases and bad phases. He has bounced back and delivered some great numbers at the box office. So I don’t think that one flop can diminish or shake a brand.” Akshaye Rathi, film exhibitor and distributor, gives an interesting example to put his point across, “Look at 2007 to 2009 period. Salman Khan had back-to-back flops after which he had a Wanted and then he became the biggest superstar in the country. You can’t judge actors by few failures or successes. In fact, a couple of hits don’t even make a superstar. Just because Rajkummar Rao and Ayushmann Khurrana had a couple of films that did well, it doesn’t mean they are superstars of Salman Khan’s stature. Stardom and credibility is built over years and years of perseverance and hard work, catering to the audiences and making them fall in love with your work.”
Similarly, there is a fear that even the image of Yash Raj Films (YRF), the production house that backed Thugs Of Hindostan, will be affected but just like Aamir Khan, even they are quite safe. Of course, they need to learn from their mistakes and as long as they do that and come up with some great films, all will be well.
Girish Johar is in agreement and states, “Yash Raj Films does have a name among the audiences. I remember they had a bad time ten years back with Tashan, coincidentally made by the same director – Vijay Krishna Acharya. Even then, it was a huge film with a mammoth star cast and did not do well. However, later, they made more films and many of them were hits and so all was well.” Taran Adarsh meanwhile adds, “I am sure Yash Raj Films has seen flops in the past. Yes, the disastrous performance of Thugs Of Hindostan is a jolt. It was a big film. I am sure Yash Raj Films would bounce back with renewed vigour. I am sure they must be rethinking about their upcoming projects and working doubly hard on that.”
Akshaye Rathi has the final word as he asserts, “If one film can affect so much, then nobody would be a superstar and no production house would be respectable. Everyone has ups and downs and everyone has hits and flops. That’s the nature of business. What will highlight the credibility of the brand is what they do from now on and I am very confident that they (Aamir and YRF) will outshine everyone else like they always do.”