Salman Khan: Nobody has failed but me

The Jai Ho actor said this looking at the box office collections of his recently released film

Salman Khan’s Jai Ho has collected around Rs 58 crore in India and Rs 20 crore abroad, breaking no records in the process. While these are fantastic numbers for an ordinary leading man, they are underwhelming for someone of the stature of Salman. These numbers are thrown into stark relief when placed against the gargantuan acquisition cost that Eros International paid for Jai Ho – some Rs 150 crore, if sources within the company are to be believed. Eros bought the film sight unseen and upon finally watching it (according to the same source), decided not to throw good money after bad, and kept the print and advertising expenditure to a minimum, which possibly explains the thanda promotional campaign that directly led to a lack of buzz.

While all monies spent will be recovered in the long run, thanks to cable, satellite, home video and other ancillary sales, the underperformance of the film raises the question of how it affects Salman Khan’s image. Speaking at the launch of a motorcycle brand at a suburban Mumbai hotel on Monday, Salman wielded all the tough questions at him with good grace and humour, but the fact that he was smarting at the box office result was evident for all to see. “How can you calculate somebody’s thinking?” Salman asked the massed ranks of the media. “If the initials haven’t been up to the mark, then nobody has failed but me.” However, the megastar was perplexed by something. “The reactions inside the cinema and the collections are not matching up. It is a strange combination,” Salman said.

Sense of humour intact, Salman said that his message in Jai Ho, not to thank someone for a good deed, but instead to go and help three other people instead, was perhaps interpreted by his fans as ‘go and watch the film on the third day’. Salman may not be far off the mark, because, after collections in the Rs 17 crore range on Friday and Saturday, numbers soared to Rs 26 crore plus on Sunday. However, even Salman’s composure cracked when a media lady asked him yet again about the poor collections and he admonished her for repeatedly rubbing it in, saying that it hurts.

Die hard fans may flock to the cinema in large numbers during the days ahead and make the film a massive hit, but the fact remains that content-wise Jai Ho is disappointing, even for fans. Lazy scripting, direction, poor music and an unremarkable leading lady all detracted from Salman who gamely was Salman, like he is in film after film. Nowadays, people (even Salman fans) expect something beyond mere star power, something that a film like Ek Tha Tiger went beyond and was consequently a grand success.

For Salman’s sake let us hope that his forthcoming releases Kick and Gabbar look beyond Salman’s raw star power.

Eros, meanwhile, is singing a positive tune. Nandu Ahuja, Sr. VP, India Theatrical, Eros International Media Limited said, “Salman fans have given a huge thumbs up to Jai Ho. The film is packed with Salman style action along with the emotion and message of the human chain of goodness and it has touched the right chord with his fans. This is an outstanding opening and his highest where we didn’t have the added advantage of a long weekend”.

Pranab Kapadia, President, Marketing & Distribution, Eros International plc added, “With January usually being a slow start in the overseas markets, the overseas weekend for Jai Ho was excellent. This also being a non-holiday period reflects very well on the film’s opening. It is trending at a similar or better level compared to recent Salman blockbusters”.