Aamir Khan@50: The actor who changed the box office game

  • Rohit Vats, Pratyush Ranjan, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Mar 15, 2015 11:01 IST

At 50, he is more charming than ever before. He's known for breaking stereotypes, and still always come out as one of the biggest winners Bollywood has known. Mr Perfectionist aka Aamir Khan is constantly rewriting the rules of success in an industry notorious for fleeting attention spans, and he still looks more content and cheerful than ever.

There is a famous film party story in which Aamir keeps calling a middle-aged woman aunty. Once she leaves the frame, Aamir’s friend points out that he is almost the same age as the woman. Aamir only smiles in reply. Probably this is what they call young at heart.

His career is more about the serial success of a superstar. With Ghajini, he started the trend of Bollywood movies that earned Rs 100 crore or more. The 2008 film took 18 days to cross the Rs 100 crore mark. The next year Khan acted in 3 Idiots, which went on to make Rs 202 crore in India. 3 Idiots' earning was unbroken till Krrish 3 and Chennai Express hit the screens in 2013.

Aamir, once again, broke box office records with Dhoom 3, a multi-starrer in 2013. Foreign markets had opened up by now and Dhoom 3 went on to become the highest grossing Bollywood film ever with earnings of approximately Rs 550 crore worldwide.

A year after Dhoom 3, Aamir has surprised everybody with PK. The film began its journey like any other big Bollywood starrer, gathering Rs 26.63 crore when it opened on December 19. This was several crores less than the openings of Ek Tha Tiger (Rs 32.92 crore on Day 1) and Chennai Express (Rs 33.12 crore on Day 1), but thanks to largely positive reviews, PK's business picked up and it is now the most commercially successful Bollywood film ever.

At a recent event, Khan talked about PK’s business, "Roughly the net collection in India is around Rs 340 crore and overseas is Rs 170 crore. So the net business is over Rs 500 crore and the gross may be Rs 600-650 crore."

With PK's thumping victory at the box office, Aamir has proved that he is the real boss of Bollywood. It has also taken him one step ahead of the other Khans in the numbers game. But, is he really as successful as he has been projected by these trade figures?

Let’s take a look at his films released since 2001.

Lagaan (2001)

Lagaan was a major critical and commercial success, and received a nomination for Best Foreign Language Film at the 74th Academy Awards. In fact, this is the only Hindi film which came really close to winning an Oscar. Lagaan earned close to Rs 54 crore.

Dil Chahta Hai (2001)

Farhan Akhtar's Dil Chahta Hai changed the way we looked at characters in Bollywood films. The movie broke new grounds by showing Indian urban youth as they really were. The suave and cosmopolitan characters won at the ticket window as well by gathering more than Rs 26 crore.

Mangal Pandey: The Rising (2005)

Aamir then took a four-year break citing personal problems, and returned in 2005 with Ketan Mehta's Mangal Pandey: The Rising playing the titular role of the real-life sepoy and a martyr who helped spark the Indian rebellion of 1857. However, Aamir's moustache made more news than the film's content as it received only the moderate success at the box office. Still, it garnered Rs 54 crore worldwide.

Rang De Basanti (2006)

In Rang De Basanti, Khan's role was critically appraised earning him a Filmfare Critics Award for Best Actor. The film went on to become one of the highest grossing films in 2006, and was selected as India's official entry to the Oscars. Although the film was not shortlisted as a nominee for the Oscars, it received a nomination for Best Foreign Film at the BAFTA Awards. Commercially, it made more than Rs 95 cr, including the overseas market.

Fanaa (2006)

Khan's next release in the same year was Fanaa in which he co-starred with Kajol. The film was one of the highest grossing films of 2006. Good songs and presence of stars added immense value to it helping it earn Rs. 101 crore worldwide. Technically, Fanaa was the first Aamir film to hit the Rs 100 cr mark, but the overseas market contributed mostly to it.

Taare Zameen Par (2007)

In 2007, Khan produced and directed Taare Zameen Par which opened to excellent responses from critics and audiences alike. However, the seriousness of the content kept the 'masala'-seeking audience at bay, it still emerged as a hit and collected close to Rs 88 crore.

Ghajini (2008)

It was a game changing venture as it started the concept of the Rs 100-cr club. Aamir's chiseled physique worked in favour of the film and it became the first one to earn more than Rs 100 crore in the domestic market. Later, it went on to gross Rs 180 crore, including all markets.

3 Idiots (2009)

Director Rajkumar Hirani's film relied heavily on Aamir and a huge promotional drive. He wasn't disappointed as 3 Idiots became the first film to fetch Rs 202 crore in the Indian market itself and had a net business worth Rs 405 cr.

Dhobi Ghat (2011)

Directed by Aamir's wife Kiran Rao, this is Aamir's most 'different' film till date. It had a specific target audience and thus the makers were satisfied with Rs 15 crore market figures. After all, it was made at a budget of less than Rs 10 crore. Of course, Aamir didn't charge for it as Dhobi Ghat was his home production.

Talaash (2012)

It is the only Aamir film which did not do as well as anticipated in recent times. Mixed reviews hampered its chances and restricted its business to Rs 93 crore in India and Rs 145 crore worldwide.

Dhoom 3 (2013)

Dhoom 3 was released on more than 3,600 screens worldwide in December 2013. This film broke all existing records and was declared 'the biggest hit of 2013'. Trade figures suggest that Dhoom 3 has done a business of Rs 545 crore till date. The dubbed versions are still releasing in some countries and thus the tally is likely to go up.

PK (2014)

Nothing is left to talks about Aamir's brand value after PK. It is now the first Hindi film to cross the Rs 350-cr mark in the domestic market. Overall, it has gathered more than Rs 625 crore and there is still some enthusiasm around it.


This is only about Aamir Khan the actor. Some of his productions such as Peepli Live and Delhi Belly have also hit the jackpot, and adding them would only mean extending his authority over the box office to unprecedented heights.

On his 50th birthday, Aamir Khan looks all set to shatter many more box office records in future.

(Interact with the authors at Twitter/@nawabjha and Twitter/@pratyush_ranjan)

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