Blackbuck poaching case: Bollywood trade analysts aren't worried as Salman Khan goes to jail, expect immediate bail
Though an estimated Rs 800-1,000 crore is riding on Salman Khan, the Hindi film industry isn’t really worried since he was acquitted in all the previous three poaching cases by higher courts.
CHENNAI: Getting sentenced by a court of law is not new for actor Salman Khan, among the most bankable stars in the Hindi film industry. He has actually done time in Jodhpur central jail - in all 18 days - in 1998, 2006 and 2007, for three cases of poaching.
On Thursday, he spent a day more in the same jail after a Jodhpur court convicted him for killing the endangered blackbuck 20 years ago while shooting for the family drama movie, Hum Sath Sath Hain, and sentenced him to five years in prison.
Though an estimated Rs 800-1,000 crore is riding on Salman Khan, the Hindi film industry isn’t really worried since he was acquitted in all the three poaching cases by higher courts. They expect him to do an encore. His advocate Anand Desai will file an appeal for suspension of the sentence/ bail at the local sessions court on Friday. With his Tiger Zinda Hai crossing Rs 300 crore earlier this year, Salman Khan became the actor with the most number of 100+ crore films in the industry (12), and alongside Aamir Khan, became the only other star to have at least one film each in the Rs 100 crore, Rs 200 crore and Rs 300 crore club.
Bollywood trade analyst Taran Adarsh pointed out that the film that will be most affected is the one he has in production right now: Race 3. The actor has signed three other films - Bharat, Kick 2 and Dabangg 3 - that haven’t yet gone on the floors. “The focus is mainly on Race 3. It is nearly complete and is slated for an Eid release, but at this point of time, we do not know how much work is pending,” he said. “They were shooting even as late as last week in Abu Dhabi; so we have to wait for the filmmaker and producer to announce the status of the film.”
Taran’s convinced that there is no other star to fill his shoes in his absence. “Salman Khan is a star with a massive following among the youth. He is a crowd-puller,” trade analyst Taran Adarsh said.
Shailesh Kapoor, whose company specialises in Hindi industry analytics, assured that the numbers riding on him are astronomical. “I would say the money riding on him is anywhere between Rs 750-1,000 crore. He does one to two films a year, and their average collection is Rs 250-300 crore. He is contributing easily Rs 500 crore a year,” he said.
“In addition to this, there are other sources of revenue like satellite and digital rights. Let’s also not forget his TV shows like Bigg Boss and Dus ka Dum.” Shailesh has no doubt that he is the ‘top Bollywood star’ by quite a distance. “Collectively, one could easily say the money riding on him is anywhere between Rs 750-1,000 crore.”
The brand value of his TV show, Bigg Boss, could really drop, according to him. “His TV shows will make around Rs 100-150 crore easily. Bigg Boss will still go on in his absence, but the brand value might fall, and result in lower TV revenues. But take something like Dus Ka Dum, which last aired in 2009. It is actually coming back only because of him and might not even see the light of the day now without his presence.”
Salman’s absence, it is thought, will affect the industry as a whole. “It is an ecosystem. The technicians, the production houses, the talent... they will all be affected. There was a reliability when it came to Salman Khan and his films. Sultan, Bajrangi Bhaijaan, Tiger... they were all Rs 300 crore films,” he said. “The industry stands to lose that revenue,” Shailesh said. It is believed in the industry that there is no single star who can take up Salman’s space in the industry.
“Aamir Khan and Shah Rukh Khan hardly operate in the larger-than-life space in Bollywood. Meanwhile, stars like Varun Dhawan, Tiger Shroff and Ranveer Singh are still building their fan base,” Shailesh added. “Salman’s fan base is so wide. Everyone from 10-year-olds to elderly people watch his film across the country.” Thursday’s conviction draws comparisons with the Sanjay Dutt sentence. Shailesh pointed out that when Sanjay Dutt was convicted, he was well past his prime. “This is unprecedented for Bollywood,” Shailesh added.
DNA report from Hyderabad lab nailed case
Court relied heavily on a DNA report from a Hyderabad lab, which confirmed the animal killed was indeed a blackbuck
Probe was handled by G V Rao of the Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics
Now retired, Rao had developed new markers and a methodology to make his assessment