Ten weeks and five hits: Content matters

The superstars have been failing on a regular basis to deliver notwithstanding their Eid, Diwali,
Christmas and other festival release dates not to mention 4000+ screens and enhanced ticket
rates! Anything goes in the name of stunts and the special effects will do the job is not working
anymore! So, now is the time to turn to content-oriented films. When a maker has solid content, a
superstar is not needed. Of the reigning but 50+ superstars, only Aamir Khan seems to have
realized this fact! Or, so his film Dangal and his portrayal of a determined Haryanvi father,
wanting to turn his daughters into world class wrestling champs, has proved!

In fact, Aamir Khan turned a new leaf right at the turn of the century with Lagaan in 2001. He
may have done an odd, senseless film but, generally, he has left them behind. The superstars have
all made filmmaking into a family enterprise, doing films mostly for kin. And, then these stars
come up with just about a film a year. Also, the two who fit the definition now are Salman Khan
and Aamir Khan; while Shah Rukh Khan has lagged behind, Hrithik Roshan seems to have given
up on the rat race soon after he attained superstardom.

Salman Khan played varied characters all along in films like Baaghi: A Rebel For Love (falls for
a brothel girl), Saajan (a contrived love triangle), Hum Aapke Hain Koun..! (a sober, obedient
family boy), Judwaa (a double role comedy) to a typical South Indian theme like Bandhan
(played second fiddle to Jackie Shroff!), he did not stick to a particular genre. He did a series of
action/comedies starting with Wanted for over half a decade, changed tracks with Bajrangi
Bhaijaan and Sultaan. It is this shift in genre that aptly sums up his three-decades long career as
an actor.

With a star, one had to conform to his image which gave him the stardom. Image-based stardom
is not forever. Neither was Rajesh Khanna's romantic one nor Amitabh Bachchan's angry man
stardom. Shah Rukh Khan is the latest case of a star being the prisoner of his own image. The
couple of times when he tried to be different was with My Name Is Khan and Ra. One. He stuck
to his image in Raees, Jab Harry Met Sejal, Zero or Fan where he preferred to play larger than life
romantic characters. Then, there is the matter of age and when it starts showing. The romancing
star becomes past his best before date.

There are the second rung stars with Akshay Kumar leading the pack followed by Ajay Devgn.
Akshay Kumar has his strategy well sorted out. Akshay does three to four films a year and yet
manages to survive. His choice of subjects is varied, relevant to what is happening around us. He
has done his share of action, romance as well as comedy. But, a glance at his recent films will
give a lead to what makes his films eagerly awaited. The films include: Rustom, Toilet: Ek Prem
Katha, Padman, Gold along with the forthcoming Kesari and Prithviraj. Khiladi days are over.
Count on subject and variety.

Ajay Devgn has a limited range and, hence, also a limited following. But he has survived
alternating between action and comedy. All these stars put together along with some woman
centric films being made oftener now, account for a dozen or so films a year. Also, they employ a
favourite few makers of these stars. These stars who reigned assured on the first day draw at the
box office, rest depending on the content and the entertainment value. Stakes were high and so
were losses. The individual filmmakers, not backed by studios, who tried, burnt their hands badly.