Why Salman Khan’s Bajrangi Bhaijaan will break all Bollywood box-office records

Mumbai,Nirmalya Dutta: Dr Gregory House, television’s favourite misanthropic doctor had once dryly commented; “If you could reason with religious people, there would be no religious people.” That argument can actually be extended to include fans of film stars, sports teams and even politicians. One person who has achieved that sort of fandom is Salman Khan, a status that’s usually reserved for politicians like Narendra Modi and Arvind Kejriwal or godmen like Gurmeet Ram Ram Raheem Singh Insaan and Asaram Bapu. He has cultivated the kind of following which will ensure that no matter what he does onscreen or off-screen, Bajrangi Bhaijaan will be a movie that will beat all Bollywood box-office records.

If anyone thought that Salman Khan’s recent misdemeanours will somehow dampen his fandom’s enthusiasm, then they are gravely mistaken. In fact, if the reaction after his court verdict is any indication, then the rest of Bollywood will turn up in droves to support their fallen hero.

In case we’ve forgotten the kind of man Bollywood is defending, here’s what Aishwarya Rai Bachchan had said in an interview in 2002: “After we broke up, he would call me and talk rubbish. He also suspected me of having affairs with my co-stars. I was linked up with everyone, from Abhishek Bachchan to Shah Rukh Khan. There were times when Salman got physical with me, luckily without leaving any marks. And I would go to work as if nothing had happened.” But we saw the best of Salman Khan when he used every trick in the legal system, including trying to pin an innocent man for the crime, to counter the law.

The truth is that irrespective of whatever happens in reality, the Salman Khan in most fans’ minds will the image he has created over the years in his movies and through his Being Human PR machinery, one which is a complete antithesis to some of his actions in real life.

In this version, he’s the protector of women, the upholder of justice and a man so pure that he calls a beautiful woman ‘behenji’ (sister). He apparently epitomises that character in this particular movie as one dialogue from the trailer continuously reminds us: “Marr jayenge pad jhoot nahin bolenge” (I’d rather die than lie). But as the Bombay HC judgment shows, Salman Khan has been fighting the legal system tooth and nail to defend his version of the facts. The truth is that the crazy fandom that Salman attracts isn’t something exclusive to him or even Indians. It can be observed in various spheres of our life. We saw One Direction fans absolutely lose their head when Zayn Malik decided to quit the group or when star footballers like Wayne Rooney or Steven Gerrard exhibits a desire to join a rival football team.

The evolutionary explanation for crazy fandom

The truth is that this passionate craziness is a byproduct of evolution, from a time when humans had to stick together in tribes to survive. Most of us are social animals, and have trouble living alone, and this bonding makes us part of a group. In days gone by, most tribes had a leader and the followers of the tribe believed that they’re imbibing the qualities of their leader and that’s why any criticism – rational or irrational – will fall on deaf ears and lead to antagonistic reactions. British philosopher Bertrand Russel had tried to explain this phenomenon in his book Power: A New Social Analysis. The book claimed that every single individual inherently craved power and there were three different groups these people fell under – leaders, followers and rebels/hermits. This is why history is full of individuals like Buddha, Mohammed, Jesus, Marx, Hitler and Gandhi, larger-than-life individuals, who would start revolutions and political movements.

The first kind were the leaders, like the aforementioned individuals, who set the agenda for the human race. The second kind, which consists of most of the human race are followers, who believe that they are imbibing the qualities of their leader. Now with most of us living in normal, non-tribal societies, we tend to gravitate towards leaders whose qualities we believe define our own. Some like the Beatles, some like Manchester United while others are taken in Star Wars or Batman. For the average Indian however, no one defines the perfect set of values desired from a man than Salman Khan. He is essentially the Indian version of Nietzsche’s Ubermensch (Overman), the next step in male evolution.. He is above law, has unbelievable power in his industry, gets all the girls he wants and is still a loving son.

The aforementioned reason is why Salman Khan has so many fans, and that’s why Bajrangi Bhaijaan will break all previous box-office records. It wouldn’t just be because his fan-base loves Salman and enjoys his movies, but also because it’ll be a slap on the face of all those who tried to apprehend him. The box-office collections will be an act of revenge against everyone – activists, journalists, lawyers and even the legal system – who dared suggest that their beloved ‘Bhai’ should follow the same laws as everyone else? What his continued adulation and success means to the lives of the late Ravindra Patil (Salman’s bodyguard) and Nurullah Sharif (the person sleeping on the pavement), or Ashok Singh (his driver) who was willing to take the blame, is therefore hardly of any consequence in the bigger picture. What matters is that Bhai is back and Bajrangi Bhaijaan is going to break all Bollywood records. Bhai Ho!

Posted by on July 17, 2015. Filed under Bollywood. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.