How Three Old Friends Came Together & Saved Bollywood! 

And why Karan Johar must make Vanarastra with SRK before Brahmāstra Part Two

If anyone thinks the trouble in Bollywood was just a passing phase they are mistaken. Bollywood was genuinely in deep sh**. The reasons were simple. It’s glory off late was a mere lack of choice which lead to poor quality films and actors with poor acting skills and poorer star appeal to get away with decent business.

Everything changed during Pandemic. The OTT revolution that might have taken a bit more time to set in, caught a sudden pace. People became very clear. If it’s Ayushmann Khurana or Akshay Kumar we would rather watch the film on OTT. Even a Ranveer starrer with poor reviews like Circus or a Jayeshbhai with lack of spectacle was a straight forward no in theatres. When he starred in a very good film like RRKPK, the film only managed to do 120cr. They rejected Ranbir Kapoor too again and again (Brahmāstra was a success due to other reasons which I will elaborate in a while). And told Aamir Khan please give us something that gives us money’s worth in theatres and stop looking repetitive— all this despite Laal Singh being a genuinely nice film— but I guess a decade too late to test the patience and sweetness of the viewers. Though the boycott gang can’t ruin a films Box office prospect, the vicious social media supported low IQ and divisive anti Khan lobby didn’t help either— a look at Bollywood’s top 20 grossers will show that apart from a film each by Hritik, Ranbir and Ranveer; Every film belongs to one of the three Khans— and gave an impression that they were winning their frivolous, fake and hate filed crusade against their new coined term, Urduwood.

And while all this was happening, South based directors who were going ahead at a fast pace due to their own lucrative markets which gave them a huge monetary backing, and their exceptional ability to make cinema hall worthy spectacles, came up with the likes of KGF & RRR making huge inroads into the traditional Bollywood markets. North Indians realised these films were far more worthy of their hard earned moneys and flocked to the theatres in hoards.

But as everyone started suspecting Bollywood’s ability to come back and started writing them off, three old friends had a different plan going.

The trio— Producer-Directors Aditya Chopra and Karan Johar along along with their mainstay and common binding friend and factor, the genuine Badshah of Bollywood, Megastar Shah Rukh Khan; Were busy creating what Bollywood needed. Spectacles that would get the audiences back to halls. While Bollywood’s Showman, Karan Johar got invested into Ranbir Kapoor’s brave and futuristic Brahmāstra, he made sure to play safe by roping in SRK for the meatiest and most talked about 15 min of the film through the Vanarastra character and opened the film with that. Despite the fact that the second half of the film became a kiddish Dragon Ball Z affair, and the special effects of the film in general got mocked as snapchat like fire ball effect, SRKs fifteen min not only had World-Class special effects but the exceptional acting, humour and genuine superhero concept that became something everyone just loved. Not highlighted or researched scientifically enough, but all my interactions with viewers make me certain, it contributed immensely to the film becoming a saving grace for Bollywood despite the film neither being a super success or a reviewers favorite. But the fact remains, Brahmāstra, gave hope to the viewers.

A hope, that maybe Bollywood still had some mettle left to lure them to halls once in a while.

This wasn’t the first time the trio changed the course of history for bollywood. About three decades back Bollywood needed a desperate shift from the Mithun – Govinda -Shakti Kapoor – Amrish Puri hero vs villain syndrome. The trio had been the saviour creating way for multiplexes to thrive and NRI audiences to flock in while the aspirational Indian middle class bought dreams in the theatres and fulfilled them through the Eurail tickets in Switzerland.

The genuine inheritor of the grand old legacy of Bollywood, Aditya Chopra who gave Bollywood its most loved Love-Story till date, true to his father’s spirit of keeping pace with time, in the meanwhile was once again working on something bigger and futuristic than the rest of the industry.

He knew that people won’t come back to halls anymore to watch good cinema or good actors or even beautiful love stories. For that they had OTT. He knew the only thing that would work was grand & genuinely spectacular action with genuine super stars. Having tasted good success with Tiger series and War, he decided it was time to launch the Yash Raj spy verse!

He decided this time to work on something that would give viewers the intense acting finesse of a Leonardo DiCaprio, the intensity of a Downey Jr. and action packed persona of Tom Cruise— all rolled into one. Who else could he go to for all of this but for his old friend the King. King Khan. The end product was Pathaan.

So confident were they of the product that they didn’t spend a dime on marketing. They didn’t spend a moment into any media interaction. They didn’t even cut multiple promos or teasers. Rather they took the Boycott Gang head on with a saffron bikini song. And didn’t think it was worth their while to even respond with a “boycott if you please” challenge. Of course the SRK-Deepika combination brought inherent unseen PR on a platter. From the never ever before FIFA World-Cup appearance to the Burj Khalifa promo it all happened free — in fact I’m sure they were paid for the travel and luxuries!!

The King became the emperor. He left behind the 300 cr Club and started his 400cr club. And then the 500 cr club, and then the 600cr club for Bollywood but give it back its status as the ruler of the Hindi film market by removing RRR from the top of the Hindi film charts.

While Karan Johar started the job, Aditya Chopra continued; Shah Rukh has finally finished it in style.

He wanted to be very very safe. And thus apart from associating with Adi Chopra and Rajkumar Hirani, he also picked up Atlee — a director who had given back to back 4 hits since he started his career— after all South seemed to be the way forward.

And while Pathaan wrote Bollywood history sealing the Emperorship of SRK, with Jawan, the emperor is now rewriting his own history. He has erased half the records as I write this story and it’s only the 4th day. Jawan has become the first Bollywood film to do ₹80cr India business in a single day and touch ₹500cr worldwide gross in just 4 days.

It can be safely said, the job is done. Of course in between, Sunny Deol’s Gadar 2 also chipped in. But it’s primarily the trio — that has given Bollywood its second big curve three decades after DDLJ, KKHH, DTPH & K3G.

So what’s next? Shah Rukh of course is no mood to let go of his Badshahdom. He has Dunki with Raj Kumar Hirani up his sleeves— perhaps what could be the best film and performance of the his career — lined up. Aditya Chopra has the spy verse to take care of! It leaves Karan with the arduous task of giving a genuine back up after his Brahmastra managed to give the doobta Bollywood its initial tinka.

So should he continue with his Brahmastra Part 2: Deva? Absolutely not. The first part sailed because of great marketing and the illusion that there are great special effects. That fact is that it just scraped through despite the special effects being just above average. So no, if he wants this franchise to have a future, he shouldn’t be doing Deva. He should plan Vanarashastra, before Bramhastra 2– needless to say, with SRK who else? After all that was universally the most appreciated portion of Bramhastra. And while giving beautiful family entertainers is a awesome, to remain the Face of the Production world in Bollywood, Karan now needs to give a genuine ₹500cr film that’s universally loved and accepted. And who else but SRK to fall back upon! And who knows, instead of 500, it might become the first Hindi film doing ₹1k cr in India.