More importantly, the Khans redefined the concept of success in Bollywood. With smart PR and marketing, entrepreneurship skills, and intelligent use of the media as well as social media, the trio set an important ground rule for new-age Bollywood: Scoring box-office hits was no longer enough, with the Khan trio arrived the era of brand power. To be truly successful in Hindi cinema's new age, one needs to be a unique brand.
So, SRK who managed to stay at the top through the nineties and the 2000s did so cashing in on NRI dreams of the average Indian, positioning himself as the chocolate-box loverboy. By 2010, the nation's socio-politics was gradually changing, and Hindi cinema was looking inwards for inspiration. As smalltown India and the smalltown Indian became a rage, the magic of SRK's sophisticated romantic icon had started to wane. Salman Khan's Dabangg stereotype would take over, over the next decade. Brand Aamir Khan, on the other hand, created a very different niche. Refusing to stick to a particular image on screen unlike Salman or SRK, Aamir devised for himself the image of an actor who had perfected the trick of scoring record-busting blockbusters with content-driven fare such as 3 Idiots, PK and Dangal.
All this worked while it did. The trouble is, in showbiz, every image and strategy is only as good as it ensures returns. At a time when content has increasingly started dictating box-office tastes, image-driven cinema is increasingly losing importance. The Khans realise as much – Shah Rukh and Salman, especially, have lately tried every trick to rid themselves of the stereotypes that rule their image.
The trouble is both Salman and Shah Rukh have struggled to score blockbusters lately, irrespective of whether they adhere to the tested image or move away from it.
Text: Vinayak Chakravorty/IANS