The Khans of Bollywood are not exactly shaking in their boots after hearing about the new challengers, but a couple of athletic men with above-average looks and a decent fan following can give the ruling stars a run for their crores.
Tennis ace Leander Paes and boxer Vijender Singh have set their eyes on Bollywood this year. While Paes is acting in two movies, Singh has signed up for three. Both men are playing main leads in their respective films. Paes' old buddy Mahesh Bhupathi is taking another route to enter the magical world of films: he is producing a road movie, Chalo Dilli.
So what does it take to rock Bollywood? Singh's deft uppercut: "a fit body". Therefore sportspersons, the boy from Bhiwani feels, can do everything ("boxing to dancing") needed to be a Bollywood champ.
"Acting is not difficult at all," is Singh's final knockout shot.
Except one, none of these movies are sports movies. But as Singh says in his disarming fashion, one has a "love angle" too! So there you are, the formula looks time-tested: an athletic hero, a love angle and some nice locales; 75% of Bollywood's basic requirement is done. The other 25% (acting and a good story), the lack of both has sunk many earlier productions involving sportspersons, will hopefully not be entirely forgotten. But there are no guarantees.
So do these new entrants augur well for Bollywood? Will the audience appreciate Singh serenading his heroine in some heavenly locale instead of practising his upper cuts for the next championships? Or Paes bashing up some rowdies instead of mangling his Davis Cup opponents?
In an age of multi-taskers, they just might have the last laugh and spur the Khans to deliver better. We are not complaining.