What’s in a name? Apparently quite a lot, if you are Aamir, Salman or Shah Rukh Khan. It seems that filmmakers and actors in Bollywood don’t think twice before using the Khans’ names generously in films. While we have seen comedians spoof the Khans ever so often in shows on TV, it now seems to be the new fad in movies. Three upcoming films — Yamla Pagla Deewana 2, Ghanchakkar and Nautanki Saala — have used funny Khan references in their promos to grab attention.
So what if you couldn’t get a Khan to star in your film or do a cameo, you can always bank on their gigantic fan bases to get some attention for your film. We speak to industry insiders about the trend.
Amod Mehra, trade analyst, says, “Dropping names in movies wasn’t common earlier. But now, people are more accepting and don’t mind if their names are used in the proper manner. Mentioning the Khans in movies increases their value, and helps market the product. Smaller budget films get immediate attention. If people like the joke made about a popular name, the curiosity rises and that is what marketing is all about.”
Adds trade analyst, Vinod Mirani, “These are gimmicks to get the initial attention at the box office. The first three days after a film’s release are crucial, and if you have to name drop, what better than using the most popular names? Mentioning Tata or Ambani won’t sell your films. No one will object as long as it is done in the right spirit.”
* Nautanki Saala: Kunaal Roy Kapur says, “Kitne din lagenge Chulbul Pandey banne mein?”
* Ghanchakkar: Rajesh Sharma says, “Saala Ghajini ka Salman Khan hai?” to which Namit Das replies, “Shah Rukh, Ghajini mein Shah Rukh tha.” Later Emraan Hashmi says, “Saale Bandar, itna bhi nahin jaante ke Ghajini mein Saif Ali Khan tha.”
YPD* Yamla Pagla Deewana 2: Johnny Lever is dressed as Shah Rukh Khan in a scene. In another, Neha Sharma says, “Mera Salman wapas karo.” Bobby Deol, seen carrying a cut-out of Salman from Dabangg (2010), says, “Jaan de doonga lekin Salman nahin.”
Khan references in films past
* Imran Khan, in Mere Brother Ki Dulhan (2011), says, “Ek baar jo maine commitment kar di toh phir main apne aap ki bhi nahin sunta.” (Salman’s dialogue from Wanted; 2009)
* In Zila Ghaziabad, Sanjay Dutt copied the famous belt-dance move from Salman’s Dabangg.
* In David Dhawan’s Chashme Baddoor, Anupam Kher tells Ali Zafar to be more like Salman to get the girl. To which Ali replies, “Ek baar jo maine commitment kar di toh phir main apne aap ki bhi nahin sunta.”
Why the Khans are a favourite reference
“One puts what is happening around one in the story while working on it. Unless they are shown in a bad light, no one minds. If the character in my film is a Salman or Shah Rukh fan, that will come across in the movie, so why not in the promo? In the film, Johnny bhai (Lever) plays various roles and this (Shah Rukh) is just one of them.”
- Sangeeth Sivan, director of Yamla Pagla Deewana 2
“Our film is about nautanki (antics) and drama, so we have references to many actors, including Amitabh Bachchan and Mehmood saab. We have paid tribute to Raj Kapoor saab and others, including Salman and Shah Rukh. They are the superstars today and pop culture is always mentioned in our movies. Highlighting them in the promos lets us connect with the audience. When you say Rajinikanth or Salman, it means something to people instantly.”
- Rohan Sippy, director of Nautanki Saala
“We have used a conversation that friends would ordinarily have. It’s a sweet joke. It is not about the popularity of the Khans or their name but a joke which might have happened in anyone’s life.”
- Rajkumar Gupta, director of Ghanchakkar