It's Salman Khan time in Bollywood. With his full-on actioner Wanted becoming a hit, the superstar has millions of rupees riding on his shoulders with three more big-budget films lined up. And all his friends in the industry - from David Dhawan to Vipul Shah - are rejoicing at the actor's success.
Wanted earned about Rs 38 crore (Rs380 million) across the country in its first week and industry experts feel that the film's good business will help Salman's forthcoming releases - Main aur Mrs. Khanna, London Dreams and Veer.
"Salman always knew when and where to strike. He was always very confident about Wanted and this is the reason why he went all out to promote the film," Dhawan, who has worked with Salman in more than half a dozen films, told IANS.
"Forget first weekend collections; it was sheer havoc when Eid festivities began. Audience response inside auditoriums was unprecedented," he added.
Directed by Prabhu Deva, Wanted was a raw action-drama comparable to Aamir Khan's Ghajini.
"Salman may have done one or two bad films in recent times due to which it appeared to some that he was no more in the reckoning. They were mistaken though because he is beyond hits and flops," said Abbas Burmawalla of director duo Abbas-Mustan.
"His strong fan base could sense from a distance that Wanted was a film to watch out for and turned it into such a huge success," he added.
Salman's Yuvvraaj and God Tussi Great Ho bombed at the box office and many believed he was down and out. But the industry doesn't quite believe so.
" 'Wanted' is Salman's one-man show. Yes, everyone involved with the film has done a fabulous job, but it is Salman's pull that got the audiences into theatres. Otherwise director Prabhu Deva was making his first Hindi film while Ayesha Takia isn't amongst the top three heroines that we have today," said Sanjay Kapoor, brother of Boney Kapoor who produced Wanted".
"He gave Wanted his full support and led the entire promotional campaign. He was supremely excited about the film and gave his heart, body, soul and time to its making followed by promotion," he added.
Vipul Shah, who has worked with Salman in the film London Dreams that releases Oct 30, is happy that Salman's three-film stint this year has got off to a good start with Wanted.
"My promotion plan though is not as expensive as that of Wanted. We are going right ahead in creating awareness around London Dreams, but the spillover of Wanted should also help our campaign. Since Wanted is all over, I am sure the euphoria and Salman's presence amongst audiences will continue for many more weeks to come," said Shah.
Filmmaker Suneel Darshan, who has never worked with Salman, is a little guarded before declaring this as a golden run of the actor.
"Wanted has done quite well in India but its fate in the overseas market has been contradictory. With crores of rupees riding on his shoulders in the current season on Veer, London Dreams and Main aur Mrs.Khanna, all due to release shortly, god forbid if anything goes wrong, it will have severe repercussions on the industry's economy. This is just another interesting phase for Salman...," he said.
Himesh Reshammiya, with whom Salman has had a decade-long association, has a final word though. "Salman was a superstar, is a superstar and will always remain a superstar."