Social media, especially X, is abuzz with pro and anti ‘Jawan’ posts. The pro ‘Jawan’ and Shah Rukh Khan lobby is very strong, in numbers as well as conviction. It is well organised. The anti ‘Jawan’ and Shah Rukh Khan members may be few in number, but they are keeping the entire Khan lobby working overtime. After all, defence is a tough job and needs patience.
The offenders are convinced that Shah Rukh Khan (SRK) manipulated the box office figures of ‘Pathaan’. Not everybody was convinced with the business figures circulated for ‘Pathaan’. I don’t know why it should matter to anybody.
People don’t follow a film’s collection figures and then decide to watch a film. So, a studio or a maker may release whatever figures he can afford or wish to; it is just an exercise in personal gratification. If certain stars do it, they may have some reasons like always wanting to be on top or, often, to better the records of other stars’ films.
Now, they feel that SRK is doing the same thing with his new release, ‘Jawan’. Videos and memes are being circulated on various social media which say Shah Rukh Khan has managed his opening-day figure (Rs 75 crore) and the first weekend gross (Rs 400 crore) even before the film was released!
Khan has very well-organised fans and very active fan clubs on social media. His fan clubs are as effective as the ones for southern superstars and even larger in numbers. In fact, SRK fan clubs are miles ahead of the South because he has local as well as international fan clubs in scores.
There is one FC for all: SRK Universe with 5.7 lakh followers. Then there is SRKFC at 1.2 lakh. The city-wise clubs are SRK Chennai, Bangalore, Pune, Hyderabad and Nagpur, besides the ones in Australia, Colombia, Nepal, Turkiye, Pakistan, Malaysia, Egypt, and so on.
On the opening day of ‘Jawan’, these fans in various cities were seen on some television channels sporting specially printed T-shirts and flocking to cinema theatres. And, in the South, Khan’s cutout was washed in milk!
I have known of Dilip Kumar fans as well as those of Dev Anand, Raj Kapoor, Amitabh Bachchan and the man who redefined superstardom, Rajesh Khanna. But this is different.
On X, badmouthing, abusing and belittling people happens on a regular basis. It is really a pitiable situation where people, mostly the young, spend their time and energy venting frustration.
This exercise where a film’s maker or star buy out tickets and manage to put on a house full board is as old as the film business. Sometimes films open on a weak note but the makers expect them to pick up with word of mouth. The terms set by the cinema management, coupled with the public perception, demanded that the makers bought tickets and distributed them to locals to manage full houses.
This exercise was called ‘Feeding’ in English and ‘Golibar’ in Hindi, for whatever reasons!
It is a tradition and all stars and makers are welcome to indulge in this exercise to promote their films till they stabilise. Just about every actor does it when the opening is below expectations.
So, why pick on Shah Rukh Khan?
“Monday se pick up hogi on word of mouth” was the eternal hope a filmmaker lived with. The kind of films they made in those days, this miracle did happen with many films.
No fan cared for collection figures, it was the film that mattered. Only now, no star or filmmaker waits that long. It is all about first day figures.
–By Vinod Mirani