Directed by Rajkumar Hirani, 3 Idiots is the story of three college friends, played by Aamir Khan, R Madhavan and Sharman Joshi.
It only admits stars whose films have made the biggest bucks. So who’s in?
Just what is this club? Where is it located? Why is it the apple of every star’s eye? Who are the other members and what does the club do?
Aamir Khan was the first member of this club in 2008. Salman Khan gained entry two years later. And though Shah Rukh Khan can’t see eye to eye with Salman and is hardly best friends with Aamir, he was hoping he’d be inducted too. His hopes turned to reality last year, making membership probably one of his biggest Diwali gifts, ever.
Ajay Devgn needed the support of some co-stars to gain entry to this club in 2010. But once in, it only took a year for him to prove that he could well have done it solo. Hrithik Roshan was admitted to the club only this year. And though he has tried several times, Akshay Kumar has been denied entry. He finally got inducted only in April this year.
Welcome to the 100-crore club! It’s not an actual organisation, but a term used by the film industry to segregate the more successful stars from the rest: only those actors whose films net Rs. 100 crore or more in India are approved for membership.
It’s cool, it’s coveted, it’s for the crème de la crème. And it’s the latest status symbol in Bollywood!
Getting into the 100-crore club is not as simple as being in a movie that has rung up Rs. 100 crore. To be considered for entry, a film must have made that gigantic amount in net collections, not gross.
For the uninitiated, gross collection of a film is the sum total of the money which is collected at all the ticket counters of cinemas across the country screening that film. Net collection is what remains in the film industry’s hands after paying off the entertainment tax to the different state governments.
Membership can’t come on the strength of a film’s overseas success either. Otherwise Shah Rukh Khan would’ve been the club’s founder member. Since Ghajini (2008) was the first film to net more than Rs. 100 crore on Indian soil, Aamir Khan has gone down in Bollywood history as the inaugural inductee of the club.
At the time, Aamir would hardly have been aware of what he started or known that he’d just broken into an exclusive echelon that would become the measure of a star’s box-office appeal in the months and years to come. His film 3 Idiots (2009) actually crossed the Rs. 200 crore mark, but if there still isn’t a Rs. 200 crore club, it is because no film has come close to netting that amount since!
Apart from Aamir, the 100-crore club has only five other members: Salman Khan, Shah Rukh Khan, Ajay Devgn, Hrithik Roshan and Akshay Kumar.
All figures are net collections
* Salman Khan gained entry in 2010 with Dabangg (Rs 143 crore) and consolidated his position with not one but two blockbusters the following year. Both Ready and Bodyguard crossed the Rs. 100-crore mark with net collections of Rs. 122 crore and Rs. 145 crore respectively, making Salman the highest scoring Khan on the 100-crore scale.
*Had Shah Rukh Khan’s My Name Is Khan (February 2010) been as successful in India as it was on the overseas circuit, he would’ve been the second member of the club. But since it did not collect Rs. 100 crore in India, he had to wait for almost two years till his Ra.One released in the Diwali of October 2011.
Director Shirish Kunder may have tweeted about how he “heard a 150-crore firework fizzle” at the time, but the fact is that Ra.One gave its hero-producer, Shah Rukh, credibility in the form of the club membership by collecting Rs. 5 crore – and of course a huge windfall (revenues from other sources like satellite rights, subsidy from the UK government, overseas business etc). Shah Rukh quickly followed up Ra.One with Don 2, which netted Rs. 110 crore when it released two months later.
*Ajay Devgn became a member of the club even before Shah Rukh, surprising as it may seem. His Golmaal 3 released in 2010, just managed to cross the threshold figure (it made Rs. 108 crore), and although it had a multi-star cast, only Ajay gained entry into the club because, of all the stars of the film, only he could have repeated the feat with a solo starrer a year later (Singham, Rs. 100 crore) in 2011.
*Hrithik Roshan and Akshay Kumar are the latest entrants to the 100-crore club. Hrithik’s Agneepath, released early this year, managed to earn Rs. 122 crore, while the club doors finally opened for Akshay Kumar with Housefull 2, which earned Rs. 112 crore when it released this April.
Te fine print
The public may have its own definition of hits and flops, but the film industry has always gone by the cost-versus-revenue analysis to determine success (it is also the only objective way of defining hits and flops). A number of avenues of revenue now exist for a producer in addition to a theatre screening.
But it is a generally accepted principle in the film trade that income from most of the other sources like satellite television, home video, etc depends largely on the earnings from the theatrical business of a film.
The 100-crore club does not take into account the cost of a film as it goes solely by revenue. It is for this reason that Shah Rukh Khan, with Ra.One (total cost Rs. 150 crore approx) and Don 2 (total cost Rs. 80-85 crore approx), is as entitled to club membership as Aamir Khan, with a blockbuster like 3 Idiots (total cost Rs. 55 crore approx) and Salman Khan, with a superhit like Bodyguard (total cost Rs. 75-80 crore approx).
Like any club, the 100 crore club also has rules of its own. But since it is more a nomenclature than an actual club, the rules are unwritten. In fact, there is neither a statute nor any memorandum or Articles of Association for Bollywood’s latest club.
Some basic club rules:
You must be a star to be eligible for membership. The club does not recognise any other community – neither producers and directors nor distributors.
You must be saleable, since only stars whose films collect Rs. 0 crore or more can join the club. (These are net collections, not gross. Net collections are defined as total box-office collections – that is, gross collections minus the entertainment tax). Their saleability is of paramount importance. It is measured in terms of how much money their films make.
Since the club is more of a league than a real club, it goes without saying that its members never really meet under the auspices of the club.
You cannot ‘apply’ for membership in that sense of the term. It comes automatically. The club has no other rules, besides the aforementioned. It is not a registered body.
No woman no cry
Only male stars are members of the club so far. To understand why no actress is a member, it must be understood that the club has, after all, been ‘formed’ by the trade and the media. And excluding women from the group is characteristic of an industry which exercises gender discrimination more than other industries.
You may have heard of producers paying Akshay Kumar and Salman Khan fees of Rs. 20 or Rs. 25 crore but have you ever heard of an Aishwarya Rai or a Kareena Kapoor getting that kind of remuneration? Frankly, the industry can’t be wholly blamed for the gender bias because it is the audience which gives male actors far more importance than female stars, the occasional Vidya Balan film notwithstanding.
In commercial potboilers (which are the only films capable of catapulting their heroes into the club), heroines get far less scope than the heroes, which is the reason why the club membership has so far been restricted to male actors.
It would’ve been interesting to see who the industry would’ve inducted into the 100-crore club if The Dirty Picture had touched 100 crore – Vidya Balan, Naseeruddin Shah, Tusshar or Emraan Hashmi? On second thought, it would’ve been an impossible task for a woman-oriented film to collect Rs. 100 crore in the first place.
An interesting aside: Kareena Kapoor has the maximum number of 100-crore films under her belt, more than even Salman Khan. Kareena’s report card reads: 3 Idiots, Golmaal 3, Bodyguard and Ra.One. Unfortunately, as the club is not open to heroines, Kareena is a non-member despite her enviable score.
Even among the male stars, it is only the main leads who are considered worthy of membership. Sanjay Dutt and Rishi Kapoor in Agneepath were as brilliant as hero Hrithik Roshan and, therefore, by implication, as responsible for the film crossing the Rs. 100-crore mark. But they weren’t included in the club simply because they were villains, not heroes. Ditto for Prakash Raj in Singham, whose comic villainy went down famously with the audience; but again, it was only hero Ajay Devgn who made it to the club.
Interestingly, although it is the film which touches the 100-crore mark, it is the star who gets membership of the club. This is another indicator of how stars are worshipped by the industry. Bollywood has always been a star-driven enterprise and it is not uncommon for stars to hog the limelight for a hit.
Even in earlier days, when the success of stars and films was measured by jubilees, it was Rajendra Kumar who was reverentially referred to as ‘Jubilee Kumar’ because of the line of silver and golden jubilees he had to his credit. No director or producer has ever had the ‘jubilee’ word appended to his name.
Most of the Rs. 100-crore films have worked equally well in multiplexes and single-screen cinemas. Perhaps Don 2 is the only exception because it scored largely in the cineplexes. But unlike most other 100-crore-films, Don 2 had the brand advantage since it was a sequel.
Golmaal 3 had a similar brand value even though the previous two films were not half as big or successful. Agneepath had tremendous recall value because of the 1990 version of Agneepath starring Amitabh Bachchan (despite the fact that the first one was a box office debacle and became a cult classic only much later on TV and DVD).
Although there is no time frame, films normally touch the 100-crore figure in two to four weeks. Today, the business of films has become touch-and-go. Most hits have a run of only four to six weeks. Among the stars who are members of the club, Salman Khan holds the distinction of touching the 100-crore mark in the shortest possible time (Bodyguard, one week!).
It would be interesting to see who the new members of the club will be and whether anyone will be able to break the records set by Aamir (3 Idiots is the only film to cross the Rs. 200-crore mark) or Salman (Bodyguard is the fastest Rs. 100-crore film).
Komal Nahta is a trade analyst and the editor of Film Information
From HT Brunch, June 3
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