The last time Shah Rukh Khan had a hit was
Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi
, his sole release in 2009, didn't exactly set the box-office on fire.
Still, movie trade continues to remain hot on Khan, whose forthcoming film, the Karan Johar-directed My Name Is Khan (MNIK) with Kajol, releases worldwide on February 12.
According to veteran trade analyst, Amod Mehra, "Like Aamir Khan, Salman Khan, Akshay Kumar and Hrithik Roshan, one or a couple of flops makes no difference to Shah Rukh's position. These actors are beyond a few flops.
"If a dud was so damaging, then after four flops, Akshay should be sitting at home. But he's still flooded with movie offers. Salman's Wanted made up for the string of flops after Partner."
Analyst Komal Nahta agrees. "Billu has nothing to do with My Name Is Khan. Every film is important and MNIK is significant for Shah Rukh because they have a foreign distributor, Fox Star, which is also releasing the movie in non-traditional territories," he said.
Distributor Vinay Choksi still believes that SRK is a huge draw at the box-office.
"Billu was not a Shah Rukh film all the way. It was a combination of him, Priyadarshan and Irfan Khan," he says, adding, "There is high interest in My Name Is Khan because it's been a while since we've seen this SRK-Kajol-Karan Johar combo."
Vinod Mirani, managing editor of Box Office India feels, "The buzz started ever since the promos went on air. Personally, I don't go by the pre-release buzz. Until I see the film, I can't comment on its business prospects."
Nevertheless, trade pundits, distributors and exhibitors unanimously agree that the current Khan-Shiv Sena controversy has added to the buzz.
The buzz is...
"A controversy never backfires. Theatres taking down MNIK posters becomes front page news. That gives the film more mileage than traditional publicity," Mehra says.
Citing Fanaa's example, he recalls, "When Aamir Khan stood up for farmers who lost their land to the Gujarat dam project, Fanaa went on to become a huge hit. Even though there was no publicity in the press and the film didn't play in Gujarat local theatres, it didn't hurt the collections."
Mirani believes the controversy has become an ego issue between SRK and Shiv Sena now.
"One party is asking for an apology or they won't allow the film to be screened. The other party is refusing to apologise. I guess Shah Rukh Khan, Karan Johar and Fox Star will decide how to resolve this issue," he ends.