By Quaid Najmi
Mumbai– With an upwards of Rs 600 crore worth of major film projects under his belt, Bollywood shudders at the prospect of superstar Salman Khan spending five years in jail after Thursday’s verdict in a 1998 blackbuck poaching case by a Rajasthan Court.
For Salman, affectionately known as ‘Bhai’ in the film fraternity, everyone is keeping their fingers crossed over Friday morning’s court hearing on the actor’s bail plea.
A popular, high net-worth superstar, the 52-year-old actor is either acting in or producing through his family production houses, several major upcoming films with a potential to be blockbusters, Bollywood insiders said.
In the past decade or so, Salman has mega hits like “Ek Tha Tiger” and its sequel “Tiger Zinda Hai”, then “Dabangg” and “Dabangg 2”, besides “Sultan” and “Bajrangi Bhaijaan” among several others to his credit.
Currently, there are around half a dozen big-budget films lined up on the floor or at advanced planning stages, including “Race 3”, which is almost complete, “Dabangg 3”, “Partner 2”, “Kick 2′, “Bharat”, “No Entry Mein Entry”, “Sher Khan” and “Loveratri”, said K. Ramji of Krishnamurthy Films.
Produced by his brother Arbaaz Khan, “Dabangg 3” is being directed by Prabhudheva, with Arbaaz and Sonakshi Sinha, besides Salman, in the main roles.
“Loveratri” is again an in-house family production in which Salman is launching his brother-in-law Aayush Sharma.
Currently, he was shooting for “Race 3”, directed by Remo D’Souza. It was partly shot in Abu Dhabi recently.
The other major titles are “Kick 2”, “Dabangg 3” and “Bharat”, each budgeted between Rs 100-200 crore, Ramji said.
Bollywood’s worries stem from the fact that most of Salman starrers gross upwards of Rs 200 crore, making him one of the “most bankable stars” presently active in the industry.
“God willing, Salman will be out of this soon. He is one of the biggest crowd-pullers of the industry and masses wait to watch his movies for their entertainment quotient. He has a great bouquet of films in hand,” said film and trade expert Girish Johar.
Slated for Eid release this year, “Race 3” is co-produced by Salman and Tips Industries Ltd, and stars Jacqueline Fernandez, Saqib Saleem, Bobby Deol, Daisy Shah and Anil Kapoor.
Trade analyst Atul Mohan told IANS: “Salman’s ‘Race 3′, which is 90 per cent done with its shooting will get affected badly if things go wrong. There’s also television show ‘Dus Ka Dum’, which is supposed to go on air in June.”
Salman’s lawyers have appealed to the Jodhpur session court for bail. The hearing will be held on Friday morning.
“If the verdict goes against him, as a film industry we might lose around Rs 500 crore every year in his absence because his movies do earn that amount of money. I think he might make some arrangement to finish these two assignments in between because even he does not want his projects and producers to suffer,” Mohan said.
Salman’s other film “Bharat” is being produced by his brother-in-law Atul Agnihotri and will be directed by Ali Abbas Zafar of “Tiger Zinda Hai” fame, with plans for an Eid 2019 release and Sajid Nadiadwala’s “Kick 2” planned for a 2019 release.
He is also expected to make a guest appearance for a song in “Yamla Pagla Deewana 3”, a possible third film in the ‘Tiger’ series, and Remo’s next big-screen venture.
Even the world of small screen is gloomy with promos of “Dus Ka Dum” season three on air with Salman as the host, and the possibility of him hosting “Bigg Boss 12” season too being discussed in television circles.
However, a few years ago after he chose to opt out of mega-brand endorsements, Salman’s net worth in the advertising industry fell though and he is reportedly very choosy about what he prefers to endorse. (IANS)