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Bollywood franchises get star power boost, as Salman Khan, Ajay Devgn, Sanjay Dutt become new leads

The strategy seen in film franchises such as Murder, Jolly LLB, Dhoom is continued this year in Race, Dhamaal, and Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster. Does that guarantee box-office success?

bollywood Updated: Feb 15, 2018 12:43 IST
Monika Rawal Kukeja
Monika Rawal Kukeja
Hindustan Times
Salman Khan,Saif Ali Khan,Sanjay Dutt
Actor Sanjay Dutt’s look from Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster 3.

Franchise films seem to have become a tried and tested formula for filmmakers, with every one of them doing well at the box office. To bring some novelty into this familiar framework, it seems that franchise owners are replacing one big name with another in the lead role.

After two successful films in the Murder series starring Emraan Hashmi, the audience was equally receptive to Randeep Hooda in the third film. Arshad Warsi delivered a sterling performance in Jolly LLB, but then the sequel had Akshay Kumar, and became a much bigger hit. Dhoom is a classic case of a film franchise that has created a buzz with different actors each time.

This year, we see quite a few such instances. Actor Sanjay Dutt has replaced Randeep Hooda as the gangster in Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster 3, out on July 27. Dutt has opted out of the comedy series Dhamaal, making way for Ajay Devgn and Anil Kapoor in Total Dhamaal, out on December 7. In the action thriller Race 3, this year’s big Eid release, Salman Khan has replaced Saif Ali Khan.

Bollywood insiders feel that a new lead actor energises a franchise. Remo D’Souza, who is directing Race 3, says, “There are franchises that have a different lead actor in every film — and they work. I think by roping in Salman, we have only upped the market value of the Race franchise, and we have Anil Kapoor for the recall value.”

Explaining that these cast changes are a two-way process, producer Prernaa Arora says, “Each actor weighs what’s important for their career, and if they’re not getting that kind of value in a [franchise] film, they may opt out. Also, if the actor doesn’t have dates and the producer can’t wait, a franchise has to pick the next best option.”

The impact on the box office is, in fact, greater with a new lead. Rahul Mittra, producer of Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster 3, says, “Big names matter in terms of initial pull and, then, if you can retain the core of the franchise in terms of story and continuity, the audience gets drawn into that world.”

Trade analyst Komal Nahta believes that the new lead’s stature helps the franchise. “If you see, in all these franchises, makers have taken bigger names, so there’s no question about positive results at the box office,” he says.

Interact with Monika Rawal Kukreja at Twitter/@monikarawal

First Published: Feb 15, 2018 12:42 IST