Salman, SRK hug: the after-effects


It’s been five years since the infamous fight between Salman Khan and Shah Rukh Khan at Katrina Kaif’s birthday party. The incident divided Bollywood into two camps, and things have been tense between the Khans ever since, with each trying to avoiding the other at public appearances. But at MLA Baba Siddique’s Iftaar party on Sunday (July 21), both came face to face and then hugged.
Salman walked in first with brother Sohail, dad Salim, friends Arjun Kapoor and Boney Kapoor, among others. Later, Shah Rukh entered and speculations began on whether Salman would leave the venue. But surprisingly, the actor went around shaking hands with people on the table where SRK was seated. Though at first he ignored Shah Rukh, Salman returned and tapped him. Then, much to delight of the onlookers, the two superstars hugged. “It’s a great sight for any Bollywood fan, but it won’t have any immediate effect,” says filmmaker Sanjay Gupta reacting to the incident.
Friends to foes: Salman and Shah Rukh first worked together in filmmaker Rakesh Roshan’s Karan Arjun (1995) and then in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998) and Hum Tumhare Hain Sanam (2002). And at an awards function in 1999, SRK even dedicated his Best Actor award to Salman. But things took an ugly turn when Salman stormed onto the sets of SRK’s Chalte Chalte (2003), which starred his then-girlfriend Aishwarya Rai. In 2004, Salman apparently hugged SRK at filmmaker Farah Khan’s pre-wedding bash, after which he went on to do a guest appearance in Om Shanti Om (2007). Later, Salman reportedly asked SRK to do a role in Main Aur Mrs Khanna (2009), which the latter declined. Then, the big fight broke out at Katrina Kaif’s birthday party in 2008. However, filmmaker Rakesh Roshan says, “For me, they were always good friends. I don’t know about any fight.”
Teaming up? Was it just a hug or the beginning of a greater alliance between the two power actors of Bollywood? While their fans would love to see the two superstars together in a film, one has to question if that is a real possibility. Industry experts are sceptical, and don’t see the duo, who are busy with the individual careers and have multiple films in hand, working together anytime soon. “After just one hug, no one thinks of making a film together or working in each other’s movies. But then, nothing is impossible in Bollywood.
You never know. Tomorrow, you might see them together on-screen,” says trade analyst Amod Mehra. Ad guru Prahlad Kakkar adds, “They wanted to keep playing college kids forever. Now they will have to grow up and mature (sic),” he quips.
Breaking the camps: In Bollywood, camps have been a ubiquitous — but largely clandestine — entity. In the last few years, Salman has mostly worked with his brothers (Sohail and Arbaaz) and a few close friends, like Subhash Ghai and Prabhudheva. SRK too stuck to doing films with his close pals — Farhan Akhtar, Karan Johar and Aditya Chopra. But post-hug, the industry is abuzz on how things will be easier for those ‘caught in the crossfire’. Gupta says, “It’s always good to have little or no animosity in our industry. And it will surely be good news for people who are close to both SRK and Salman.” Immediate beneficiaries could be Yash Raj Films (considered SRK’s home ground) and Excel Entertainment (close to SRK, though Farhan says they have been trying to work with Salman for a long time now).
Money matters: Both Khans have considerable pull in terms of box office and fans, and experts say “this isn’t going to affect Bollywood at all. Our film industry is doing well and will run well without them too. When their fight didn’t affect films or filmmakers, why would their patch-up?” asks Mehra. “Since they are already highly paid stars, their patch-up won’t have an earth-shattering impact as far as money is concerned. And let them first talk about working together,” says an established filmmaker on condition of anonymity. Till last year, Salman’s acting fee apparently was between R23-27crore while SRK’s paycheque was around R20-25 crore (the figures also include a share in profits).
Fan following: In the past when they have acted together, the SRK-Salman combination has worked like magic at the box office. Be it Karan Arjun or Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, the films have been hugely successful. As they hug and make up, fans are excited. “We hope their hug leads to them working together in a film. I have grown up watching their films,” says Pooja Chopra, a class 10 student. The industry also feels that the incident can have an immediate effect on SRK’s film. “Hardcore Salman fans might now go and watch Chennai Express. It’s surely going to be beneficial for SRK’s film,” says a filmmaker, who did not wish to be named. Another fan, Robin Nagpal, says, “It’s great to see Karan and Arjun coming back together. I hope there is a sequel.”