What one year of ‘Pathaan’ means for Shah Rukh Khan, his fans and Hindi film industry : The Tribune India

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What one year of ‘Pathaan’ means for Shah Rukh Khan, his fans and Hindi film industry

‘Pathaan’ touts as the ‘highest grossing first day for a Hindi film’ at the time of its release by Yash Raj Films

What one year of ‘Pathaan’ means for Shah Rukh Khan, his fans and Hindi film industry

A poster of Pathaan. File photo


New Delhi, January 24

Propelled by a long absence and fans’ desire to give a hero’s welcome to an actor who had gone through professional and personal setbacks, ‘Pathaan’, which released a year ago, not only reinstated Shah Rukh Khan’s superstardom but also breathed a new life to the Hindi cinema theatrical business.

Released on January 25, 2023, the high-octane action spy thriller completes one year of its release on Thursday. Directed by Siddharth Anand, it was the next chapter in the Yash Raj Films (YRF) spy franchise and also starred Deepika Padukone and John Abraham.

Before ‘Pathaan’, many believed the glory days of Bollywood were over as big titles such as ‘Samrat Prithviraj’, ‘Shamshera’ and ‘Laal Singh Chaddha’ failed to work at the ticket window in the immediate aftermath of the pandemic. The rise of the South cinema and the boycott calls against Hindi movies also added to its woes.

According to trade expert Taran Adarsh, ‘Pathaan’ was the bona fide ‘first biggie of 2023’ which opened to Rs 55 crore in the Hindi version alone. Its Tamil and Telugu dubbed versions brought in additional Rs 2 crore on day one. It was touted as the ‘highest grossing first day for a Hindi film’ at the time of its release by YRF.

“One year of ‘Pathaan’ means a lot for both the Hindi film industry as well as Shah Rukh Khan, who made a solid comeback with the film. Those who had written off Shah Rukh, it was a shock to them when ‘Pathaan’ opened to such terrific numbers.

“For the film industry, it mattered a lot because we were going through a rough patch and this was the first biggie of 2023. The box office numbers were so huge that it brought a lot of optimism, cheer and confidence back, and I think that was more important than anything else. It was a win-win situation for the industry as well as Shah Rukh Khan,” Adarsh told PTI.

The success of ‘Pathaan’ came after the actor went through a period of intense media scrutiny when his eldest son Aryan Khan was arrested in the Mumbai cruise drugs case in 2021. Aryan, who spent almost a month in prison, was cleared of all charges later.

During his time away as the leading hero, Shah Rukh had not one but three back-to-back cameos in ‘Rocketry: The Nambi Effect’, ‘Laal Singh Chaddha’ and ‘Brahmastra: Part One – Shiva’. These special appearances only piqued interest about ‘Pathaan’, which raised over Rs 1,000 crore at the box office globally.

For Shah Rukh Khan fans, ‘Pathaan’ was that one film which brought them back to theatres.

NCR-based homemaker Nivedita Upadhyay said watching her favourite star on the big screen after a long wait was totally worth it.

“The success of ‘Pathaan’ was huge for Shah Rukh and his fans. He was due for a hit for a really long time. Despite being a brilliant actor, people had started writing him off. Post pandemic, a lot of big-budget movies were just failing. People kind of stopped going to theatres. ‘Pathaan’ changed that,” Upadhyay said.

Trade expert Girish Wankhede, also based out of Mumbai, said the spectacular box office performance of ‘Pathaan’ signalled that Hindi theatrical experience is here to stay.

“Before ‘Pathaan’ was released, there was a lot of tussle between OTT content and theatricals, and people had this idea that the days of the big screen are numbered. With ‘Pathaan’, the entire scene changed. Shah Rukh’s charm, action genre and the great mounting of the film brought people back to the cinemas. ‘Pathaan’ was the first legitimate super-duper hit of 2023,” Wankhede said.

According to Upadhyay, Shah Rukh fans also ensured he got “a new lease of life”, especially after the Aryan episode.

“The movie itself was far from SRK’s best but his on-screen charisma solidified his regal stature in Bollywood and rightfully so,” the admirer added.

The actor, who was recently named the CNN-News18 Indian of the Year 2023, spoke about how fans, whether they liked his films or not, turned up in theatres to watch ‘Pathaan’ and his other two releases of the year— ‘Jawan’ and ‘Dunki’, which were commercially successful as well.

“The last four-five years have been a bit of a ride for me and my family... Most of my films flopped, lots of analysts started writing my death knell. And then, at a personal (level), a little bit of bothersome and unpleasant things also happened, which made me learn a lesson: keep quiet and work hard with dignity.

“Some of you may have not even liked my films but I hope deep down inside you came there to support me and my family. I bow down to you and thank you for bringing cheer to my family and making me the star I am, yet again,” Shah Rukh said in his impassioned speech recently.

And fans believe that Shah Rukh deserved a great comeback after what he went through.

Dev Manikchand, another sworn SRK fan, said his love for the actor and the wrongs done to the actor drove him to support ‘Pathaan’ in a Delhi theatre.

“I personally liked the movie, but I say this with a caveat that it was far from his best and I, not for once, saw it raking in that many crores. That said, I was happiest to witness the movie’s unprecedented success, knowing well that both Shah Rukh and Bollywood needed it desperately at that time. Of course, the wait for good cinema by him continues. I hope he is listening,” a hopeful Manikchand added.

Shah Rukh is yet to announce his next release but fans are keeping their fingers crossed that it will not be a long wait this time.

#Shah Rukh Khan

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