Reign men: Boys don’t rule in Bollywood

Sanjay DuttIn Bollywood, boys don’t vie for top honours. Not at the moment at least. Take a look at the marquee and you realise that the heroes who really spell moolah are all 35-plus (discount Hrithik Roshan, he’s had two superhits but that’s thanks to papa’s packaging). When it comes to real hits, if it’s not the Big B, you’re probably thinking the...
...Khan triumvirate, Sunny Deol or Sanjay Dutt. Abhishek Bachchan, Vivek Oberoi or Fardeen Khan – the bachchas can take a walk for now. Like wine, our macho men are best served aged.

Ruling the roost, of course, is Amitabh Bachchan. With 11-odd films in hand (almost all having younger actors as props), the Big B is Bollywood’s veritable Busy B. Not surprisingly, as a last ditch attempt to resurrect son Abhishek’s career, he’s producing Rajkumar Santoshi’s Ranveer that will star – who else – Bachchan himself in the lead.

The Khans – Shah Rukh, Salman and Aamir, three names that automatically ensure whopping initials – are all aged 37/38. And at 37, Sallu in Tere Naam can pack a bigger punch to the college boy act than Zayed Khan can ever dream of.

Akshay Kumar, closer 40 than 35, believes interesting scripts come easier to senior heroes: “I was 22 when I joined the industry. Directors are offering me solid roles today, after almost a decade and a half.” While Akshay is playing the field post Khakee and Andaaz, Sanjay Dutt acknowledges a Munna Bhai MBBS would perhaps have never come his way a decade ago: “Maybe it’s because younger heroes feel safe sticking to ‘feel good’ films. But when you’ve reached my stage, you want to change. You begin to accept variety in roles and that spells success.”

Agrees Suniel Shetty: “The trick is to never stick to an image. And that’s easier for heroes who’ve been around. For instance, after Kaante, Khel and Rudraksh, I’ll say goodbye to the evil streak. Now I’m focusing on my comic side with Padmashree Laloo Prasad Yadav, Hulchul and Phir Hera Pheri.” May be the Bollywood boys will take a leaf out of his book.

The Colour of money
A look at what Bollywood’s 35-plus club is earning per film (approximate figures):
Amitabh Bachchan: Rs 3 crore
Shah Rukh Khan: Rs 3.5-4 crore
Aamir Khan: Rs 3 crore (Rs 5 crore-plus for The Rising)
Salman Khan: Rs 2.5 crore
Sunny Deol: Rs 2 crore
Sanjay Dutt: Rs 1.75-2 crore
Akshay Kumar: Rs 1.75 crore