Bollywood is waiting with bated breath for the blackbuck case verdict on March 3, as a sum of Rs 200 crore is riding on actor Salman Khan who is among the accused. The Arms Act case against Salman is an offshoot of the poaching incident that took place 16 years ago near Jodhpur, when Salman was in the area to shoot for Sooraj Barjatya’s Hum Saath-Saath Hain in 1998.
Incidentally, the 49-year-old is currently in Gondal near Rajkot, Gujarat, shooting for another Barjatya film, Prem Ratan Dhan Payo. His other film, Bajrangi Bhaijaan, being directed by Kabir Khan and co-starring Kareena, is currently in post production for a mid-year release.
Trade analysts tell us that Salman has approximately `150 crore riding on him for these two films alone, besides another `50 crore for other projects. “If you take `75 crore each for these two films, it comes to a total of `150 crore. And then if you add another `50 crore for the other projects that he has signed, it comes to `200 crore,” says expert Komal Nahta, adding that there is some amount of tension, and the actor has the option to further appeal his case.
Film distributor Rajesh Thadani adds that the judgment will affect the annual box-office numbers as well. “His films are the biggest crowd-pullers and in case these are not released, the whole industry ... the business for the entire year will get affected. There is a lot of money at stake here. But I am sure he realises this too, and has worked some way out,” he says.
Industry expert Atul Mohan is also hopeful that Salman will wriggle out of the situation. “Taking into consideration the charity work that he is involved in, I am hopeful that some relaxation is given to bhai. Salman is undoubtedly the biggest star today, with huge money riding on him. If any judgment is passed against him, it will be a big blow not only for the investors but also his fans,” he says.
However, the ad world remains unaffected by this development. “I don’t think the ad world thinks so much in advance. A maximum of `1-2 crore is riding on Salman. That is the amount which is paid when someone is signed. An ad shoot hardly takes two days, so he can finish off many of them till March 3,” says ad-filmmaker Prahlad Kakar.