It's one of those big days when Bollywood waits with bated breath, just that this time it's not for any big-ticket release. Whatever is the verdict on superstar Salman Khan's 2002 hit-and-run case on May 6, it will reshape the contours of the world's biggest film industry: After all, a sum of Rs 200 crore is riding on him, and a conviction is just the last thing anybody in the industry wants to be confronted with.
Khan, star of blockbusters Bodyguard and Dabangg, is accused of losing control of his SUV after a night of drinking rum and cocktails at an upmarket bar in Mumbai in 2002 and fleeing the scene.
After years of court hearings and legal hold-ups, a judge in Mumbai is on Wednesday finally expected to hand down his verdict on the 49-year-old actor on charges of culpable homicide.
Khan faces up to 10 years in prison if found guilty following a trial whose every twist has been followed by the country's media.
But, if the actor goes to the jail then it’s not going to be a good sign for big-pocket Bollywood producers as it’s believed that more than Rs 200 crore is riding on Salman’s shoulders.
The 49-year-old is currently shooting for Prem Ratan Dhan Payo. His other film, Bajrangi Bhaijaan, being directed by Kabir Khan and co-starring Kareena, is currently in post production for a mid-year release.
“If you take `75 crore each for these two films, it comes to a total of `150 crore. And then if you add another `50 crore for the other projects that he has signed, it comes to `200 crore,” said Komal Nahta in an interview with Hindustan Times in February.
The situation hasn’t changed much in last two months. However, the producers have not much to lose as far as the actor’s endorsement deals are concerned. In case the actor gets a jail term, the makers would be losing the signing amount but that isn’t likely to exceed Rs 1-2 crore. Same is the case with his films such as Dabangg 3 and No Entry Mein Entry where the projects are still at a pre-production stage.
However, the biggest losers will be the producers of Prem Ratan Dhan Payo and Bajrangi Bhaijaan, whose films are almost complete, but they will have to wait for if the verdict goes against Salman Khan.
(With inputs from agencies)
Read:If guilty, Salman Khan faces 10 years' imprisonment