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HomeentertainmentIndian megastar Shah Rukh Khan’s action thriller Jawan lifts flop-hit Bollywood

Indian megastar Shah Rukh Khan’s action thriller Jawan lifts flop-hit Bollywood

MUMBAI – Indian movie megastar Shah Rukh Khan has once again barnstormed Bollywood with his high-octane action flick Jawan.

Its success is part of a wider revival of the flop-strewn Hindi-language film industry that has struggled since the Covid-19 pandemic to win back audiences.

Opening last Thursday, Jawan (or Soldier) set a new Bollywood box-office record with a 750 million rupee (S$12 million) collection worldwide.

It will be the second mega post-pandemic hit in 2023 featuring Khan.

His films continue to defy concerns that Bollywood and its urbane jet-setting stars and directors based in the financial capital Mumbai were failing to cater to Indian audience tastes, ceding ground to action-packed epics from southern India. 

Even before its opening day, advance bookings for Jawan looked “extremely encouraging” with wider box-office collections continuing to rise, a signal “movies are doing well”, Mr Deep Shah, a research analyst at Mumbai-based B&K Securities, wrote in a report last week.

“The Bollywood bandwagon continues to fly high.”

The fast-paced thriller – now showing in Singapore cinemas – stars Khan in multiple roles as a soldier, romantic lead and Robin Hood-type figure who takes on corrupt politicians and businessmen. Playing out over nearly three hours, it has over-the-top action and song-and-dance sequences that are standard Bollywood fare.

One critic in the Indian Express newspaper called it a “pop-masala banger” playing out a familiar “vigilante-forced-into-taking-on-the-bad-guys” storyline.

“What lifts Jawan’s pushback against the ‘system’ is the cockiness, and knowingness.”

Pathaan, another action-packed thriller released earlier in 2023, also broke Hindi-cinema records and marked the return of Khan to the screen after a five-year hiatus.

The king of Indian cinema did not disappoint, drawing in 570 million rupees on its first day. Jawan has already eclipsed that amount.

Local media has reported that some 30 single-screen cinemas in India’s Hindi-speaking north, which shuttered during the pandemic, reopened to show Jawan.

Khan, who before this year starred in a number of lacklustre releases, said he was “overwhelmed” by the reception to the film.

Born in 1965, Khan grew up in a middle-class Muslim household in New Delhi. He was 14 when his dad, a businessman who fought against British rule and came from what is now northern Pakistan, died, leaving his magistrate mother to bring up Khan and his elder sister.

After starring in television commercials in the 1980s, Khan won wider stardom as a boyish and sensitive heart-throb in a string of 1990s romantic hits, including Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995) and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998).

Since then, he has featured in almost 100 films and is now a major businessman, owning a production house and an Indian Premier League cricket team.

While other actors Khan’s age have been sidelined or relegated to supporting roles, the 57-year-old – who boasts washboard abs – continues to be cast as one of Bollywood’s enduring leading men.

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Crowds gather each day outside his coastal Mumbai mansion, hoping to catch a glimpse of the Indian star. His ancestral home in the Pakistani city of Peshawar also attracts tourists.

His fandom spreads way beyond domestic borders, thanks to South Asia’s huge diaspora, and he even has an orchid named after him in Singapore. BLOOMBERG

Jawan is showing in Singapore cinemas.

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Shah Rukh Khan’s spy film sees bumper Bollywood opening despite protests

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