The release of the Salman- Rajashree combo ‘ Prem Ratan Dhan Payo’ after 14 years this Diwali is giving sleepless nights to film distributors.
Even though Sooraj Barjatya has taken all precautions to see that his venture is a hit with the masses( in this case the family) rushing to the cinema hall to watch the latest avatar of Prem.
Salman had taken upon this avatar in Rajashree’ film ‘Maine Pyar Kiya’ starring Bhagyashree for the first time. The tear- jerker film went on to create records at the box office and established Salman’s magic. Even though the young pair created a new kind of magic for film crazy youths, it did not do much for the career of Bhagyashree.
Then came ‘Hum apke hain kaun’ with Madhuri Dixit where the chemistry of the lead pair went on to actually establish Salman as the biggest among the three Khans of Bollywood and since then Salman has maintained that lead.
There were too many pluses in HAHK-its heady music, the charm of a sensuous Madhuri Dixit (‘didi tera devar deewana’ will remain one of the all time hits of Indian cinema) and of course the typical Alok Nath who became a cult figure since HAHK and Maine Pyar Kiya.
Watching Prem Ratan Dhan Payo to a near empty hall today I started wondering like the film pundits as to whether the Salman magic had started waning.
It has been about 15 years since HAHK and much has changed since then. There have been too many controversies involving him both on and off screen. But it has not affected his pull at the box office. In fact he is today known as the 100 crore hero of Bollywood as each of his releases in recent years has been a super success and 100 crore has become a hall- mark of Indian cinema. But the subject of these films required him to take off his shirt where there was no competition.
Did Suraj Barjatya and Salman take a calculated risk with Prem Ratan Dhan Payo? Looks like. The story of the film is all about palace conspiracies, attempt to bump off the prince charming because of his father’s acts of omission and commissions by some smart looking villains.
As usual, this Rajashree film is also a three- hour costume drama as most of the time they are discussing an impending Rajtilak where Sonam Kapoor, the would be bride of the fake Prince Charming is trying to impress her with his heart of gold.
Sooraj seems to have taken a risk insurance by giving a double dose of Salman Khan in the film. Of course the fans of Sonam Kapoor, the growing legion of youngsters of the fashion icon, will be delighted to watch her in full glory in a typical Rajashree costume drama.
But this will be basically a test of Salman’s pull at the box office and may be affect the fate of Bollywood in the long run. At least that of Rajashrees.
By Amitabh Srivastava