Once every year or so in the past few decades the world has been exposed to a phenomenon that affects millions of people for the better in India and around the world, often with long-lasting impact. That phenomenon is the arrival of an Aamir Khan film, Forbes magazine reporteed.
Since 1973, when he made his screen debut as an 8-year-old in a minor role in the first Bollywood masala film, his uncle Nasir Hussain’s Yaadon Ki Baaraat, Aamir Khan has been delighting audiences with his natural charisma and his talent for creating empathetic characters in memorable, often award-winning performances.
If he were just a skilled artist, Aamir Khan would be a noteworthy actor. But it’s his enormous popularity and his business acumen that set him apart from just about every actor currently working anywhere in the world. Khan doesn’t just act, he also directs and produces under his Aamir Khan Productions banner. With the first film he produced, the superb Victorian era sports drama Lagaan, Khan proved he can simultaneously produce and star in commercially successful films that are also award-worthy. Lagaan was nominated for a foreign-language Academy Award, marking only the third time an Indian movie received that honor (Salaam Bombay was nominated in 1988, and Mother India was in 1957).
It’s in his capacity as an actor-producer that “Comet Khan” will once again circle back around from the movie star galaxy to bring his next film to his fans across the globe. This year his movie is the aspirational coming-of-age drama Secret Superstar, about a small town teenaged girl (played by his vibrant Dangal co-star Zaira Wasim) who uses the Internet to become a singing sensation. And given Khan’s extraordinary commercial track record, especially over the past decade, it’s perfectly reasonable to anticipate that the new picture, which opens at Diwali (the Hindu festival of lights) on October 19th, will be a contender for membership in the rarefied 1,000 Crore Club.
For any other Indian movie star—yes, even Salman Khan or Shah Rukh Khan—the suggestion of a ₹1,000 crore target would be an outlandish one. But considering that Aamir Khan has set new box office records with almost every new feature film he’s released since 2008, and that his popularity is practically unrivaled in China, the world’s second-biggest movie market, Secret Superstar’s chances look pretty good.
Since 2008 nearly every one of Khan’s new pictures has been a blockbuster hit, and most have broken new ground in box office history. In 2008 Ghajini became the first Indian movie to reach ₹100 crore in worldwide grosses. The next year saw his film 3 Idiots become the highest grossing Indian movie ever with ₹395 crore, a record that stood for four years until his movie Dhoom 3 established the next all-time record with ₹585 crore. And so it went with his 2014 release PK, and with his 2016 film Dangal, the highest-grossing picture in the annals of Indian box office history.
To be sure, Secret Superstar will face a few important challenges. For one thing the movie isn’t about Khan’s character; he plays a supporting role as the movie’s over-the-top villain. For another, the movie will open day-and-date against another hotly anticipated Indian blockbuster, Ajay Devgn’s Golmaa! Again. And thirdly, Secret Superstar hasn’t yet been approved for release in China. It’s hard to imagine that not happening, but if it doesn’t then the movie’s chances of 1,000 crore glory become much slimmer.
On the plus side, Khan has expressed supreme confidence about his new movie’s prospects, predicting it will be “much bigger than ‘Dangal’. While both are about the empowerment of the girl child, I feel it [Secret Superstar] is a much bigger film,” he says.
If Secret Superstar doesn’t become the third movie to join the 1,000 Crore Club—after Dangal and the SS Rajamouli-directed epic Baahubali: The Conclusion—Khan will get his next shot at glory soon, when his action-adventure movie Thugs of Hindostan releases a year from now at Diwali, 2018.