Shah Rukh Khan may be quite active on social media, posting pictures with his kids and tweeting about his thoughts. When it comes to his movie announcements, though, Shah Rukh Khan has been rather very quiet at that front. There is no doubt that the failure of his ambitious Zero has put him in a corner, and he would be watching his own moves here forward carefully. Before Zero came out, Shah Rukh Khan had already signed to play the lead in the Rakesh Sharma biopic, Saare Jahaan Se Achcha - the story about the first Indian astronaut in space. Shah Rukh Khan Walks Out of Rakesh Sharma's Biopic 'Saare Jahaan Se Achha' For THIS Reason?
While he had spoken about doing the film at various events, SRK had never officially announced that it would be next. And then began the rumours - he has backed out of Saare Jahaan Se Achcha to give priority to Don 3. Interestingly, this project was hinted at the trailer launch of Gully Boy by Farhan Akhtar who will be returning to the director's chair after a gap of seven years. His last film was Don Returns in 2012. Shah Rukh Khan's Don 3 is Happening and Here's When He'll Start Shooting for It.
Again, this isn't confirmed news, and yet there must be some fire if there is so much smoke! With this change of stance, even Shah Rukh Khan fans are divided over whether the superstar has done the right thing or not. We have already done a piece on why SRK should have stuck with Saare Jahaan Se Achcha. It's Not a Wise Decision For Shah Rukh Khan To Quit Rakesh Sharma Biopic, 'Saare Jahaan Se Achcha' - Here's Why.
However, we can also look at it with a different perspective - what if this is a really smart move by Shah Rukh Khan, considering the precarious state his box office standing is right now.
Before we analyse this move, let's first discuss what's it about Shah Rukh Khan that is not working right now. It is not his popularity, since he is still as loved among his tremendous fanbase as before. It is his box office mojo that is affected since the underperformance of Dilwale in 2015. In the gap of four years, he had seen three major flops in FAN, Jab Harry Met Sejal and Zero, a statistic neither of the other two Khans, Salman and Akshay, his biggest competitors can claim to have. Zero's box office performance particularly might be hurting, since 2018 was the year where a younger star like Ranbir Kapoor had his movie cross Rs 300 crore mark, while Ranveer Singh scored two Rs 200 crore hits. What's funny is that none of those movies was a masterpiece! Simmba Box Office Collection: Ranveer Singh Starrer Surpasses the Rs 350 Crore Mark Worldwide.
So how does it affect Saara Jahaan Se Achcha? I had written an opinion piece a few days back about Shah Rukh Khan really needs to play safe now, even if he feels otherwise. He may agree with it or not, but he is a superstar and for that, he needs to get that box office mojo back. For that, he needs to see the trends that are working at the box office right now.
As of now, Bollywood audience has a liking for biopics, nationalist films, social dramas and light-hearted masala entertainers. You will then say that Saara Jahaan Se Achcha was a biopic, so he should have stuck with it.
Agreed. And then it is also a movie about a man going to space, which is exactly what SRK did in his last film, Zero. Look what happened there!
I am not saying that the lightning will strike the same place twice. Unlike Zero, the mainstream audience will have a lot to connect with the Rakesh Sharma biopic, this being a true story and is bound to have that patriotic tinge. Look at that title, for example.
And yet, it will be a movie that needs a lot of money invested to realistically portray those space sequences. After splurging Rs 190 crore in Zero, this is the last thing Shah Rukh Khan should do right now. Also remember that 2018 was also the year where Damian Chazelle's First Man, starring Ryan Gosling. The movie that was about US astronaut Neil Armstrong's exploration to the moon, got high acclaim from the critics but had underperformed at the box office. Not exactly confidence building stuff!
Also, Saara Jahaan Se Achcha's director Mahesh Mathai may have directed indie flicks like Bhopal Express and Broken Thread, but this is the first time he is handling such a big project. Seeing how after Dilwale, SRK has worked with new directors in every movie and the move hasn't worked in favour of him, working with another new talent (for him) is a precarious idea.
Again, I am not saying Shah Rukh Khan should not have done Saara Jahaan Se Achcha. It was a promising project and it would have been his first biopic (if you don't count whatever Asoka was). It shouldn't have been his next after Zero.
Here's why him choosing Don 3 makes a very logical sense. Superhit franchises always work at the box office. The first two Don movies may have not got great praise from the critics but the audiences lapped them up. Shah Rukh Khan and Farhan Akhtar have the experience of working with each other, twice by now, and that's what SRK needs right now - working with an old hand who knows how to utilise the actor and the star in him instead of being over-awed by his persona. For some strange reason, Farhan Akhtar is not handling any directorial commitments, even though he is a better director than actor. He gave us Dil Chahta Hai, for God's sake! Even his underrated Lakshya, in my opinion, is the best war film that Bollywood has made. The Don series may not be the best of his works, but the director in him hasn't disappointed us there. Shah Rukh Khan and Priyanka Chopra Exchange Pleasantries At a Recent Event, Should We Expect Don 3 On Cards?
And then there is the buzz. For years, people have been asking for the third instalment, but both SRK and Farhan have been too busy with other projects to come together. Now if they come to an agreement with Yash Raj Films, and make a crossover with the Dhoom franchise, that would be one Rs 300 crore wala idea!
(The opinions expressed in the above article are of the author and do not reflect the stand or position of LatestLY.)