After half a dozen flop films over nearly two years, Bollywood actor Salman Khan has finally tasted commercial success with his latest action flick, Wanted, emerging top grosser this weekend, generating around Rs 17-19 crore in domestic box office collections.
Khan's previous commercially successful film was Partner, released two years earlier.
Trade pundits expect Wanted, a remake of a South Indian film, to generate around Rs 28-30 crore in its first week collections. And say it may recover its costs by the end of four weeks. (The cost of making and promoting it is estimated at Rs 40-45 crore). This will end a two-year flop run for Salman -- Yuvraaj, Hello, Heroes, God Tussi Great Ho and Saawaryia, among others.
Salman has been around in the Bollywood for 30 years now and worked in around 85 films, including two dozen commercial hit films. After Wanted, Salman has two important releases lined up in Main Aur Mrs Khanna and London Dreams, both slated for release next month.
Wanted generated high collections during the weekend despite competition from another new release from the Yashraj banner, Dil Bole Hadippa!, featuring Rani Mukherji and Shahid Kapoor. It generated collections of less than Rs 14 crore, even as both the films were released on September 18.
"Because of a long weekend holiday, including the Id holiday today, Wanted is seeing occupancy levels of around 70-75 per cent. Salman's charisma is driving audiences to both multiplexes and single-screen theatres, where the film has seen over 90 per cent occupancy," says Devang Sampat, senior vice president, Cinemax, a leading multiplex chain.
But film trade analyst Komal Nahata is not impressed yet. "Only because there is a long weekend is it doing well? I don't think it will recover its cost, as from next Friday onwards a slew of interesting films are slated to hit the theatres."
After a spate of legal controversies, Khan is now in the news for various positive reasons. Apart from the second season of his television reality show, 10 Ka Dum, doing well on Sony TV, Khan has expressed interest in bidding for a cricket team in the Indian Premier League (IPL) tournament next year. He is also currently the brand ambassador of All India Football Federation.
Can brand endorsement deals be far away? "I don't know why celebrity management firms do not approach Salman. His charisma and fan following is no less than the other Khans, Aamir and Shah Rukh, but he makes less than 10-12 per cent of what they make every year in brand endorsement deals," says a senior executive of a leading sports and celebrity management firm.
Currently Salman only endorses Chlor-mint, a mint brand from Perfetti India. But, some years earlier, he had a slew of brand endorsement deals, including those with Thums Up, Dollar undergarments, Red Tape Shoes and Mayur Suitings, among others.