Can having two heroes in a Bollywood movie still work?

Boxoffice Results

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What do Andaz (1949), Sholay (1975), Dostana (1980), Andaz Apna Apna (1994) and Karan Arjun (1995) have in common?

They are all two-hero films that did well at the box office. Casting two big heroes in a movie has been a hit formula for Bollywood film-makers since the ’40s, and the trend continues to work even now.

Growth factor

Deepika Padukone is set to work in a two-hero movie for the first time. Film-maker Sanjay Leela Bhansali will apparently rope Ranveer Singh to play emperor Alauddin Khilji, the second ruler of the Khilji dynasty, in Padmavati. For the role of Deepika’s husband, reports about Shah Rukh Khan or Shahid Kapoor have been doing the rounds, but there has been no official confirmation from the makers yet.

“Until you work with other people, how will you grow as an artiste? I think that’s important. If I am an audience member, and I see a hero — who plays the protagonist — come out with four films in a year, I will get bored. In my brother’s (Rohit Dhawan; director) film, Dishoom, John [Abraham] is my co-star. Since he is a bona fide action star, who better than him to learn action from? Things are more exciting for me,” says Varun Dhawan, who also starred alongside SRK in Dilwale (2015).

Varun Dhawan, who starred alongside Shah Rukh Khan in Dilwale, will be seen with John Abraham in Dishoom.

Cost effective

Besides Dishoom and Padmavati, a number of other two-hero films will also hit the big screen in the coming months. Some of them include Rangoon (Saif Ali Khan and Shahid), Happy Bhag Jaayegi (Abhay Deol and Jimmy Sheirgill), Rock On 2 (Farhan Akhtar and Arjun Rampal) and Badshaho (Ajay Devgn and Emraan Hashmi), among others.
As per reports, Shah Rukh Khan could star alongside Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone in Padmavati. (Yogen Shah)

“For audiences, it’s great, because you get to watch two heroes for the price of one ticket. Contrary to general belief, it doesn’t make a film costly as most of the times, both the heroes aren’t of the same stature. So the payments are done accordingly. It also helps in selling the film to exhibitors and distributors,” says trade expert Amod Mehra.

Hit formula

In the recent past, two-hero projects have yielded good results at the box office, with films such as Once Upon A Time in Mumbaai (2010; Ajay and Emraan), Student Of The Year (2012; Varun and Sidharth Malhotra), Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani (2013; Ranbir Kapoor and Aditya Roy Kapur) Gunday (2014; Arjun Kapoor and Ranveer) and Brothers (2015; Akshay Kumar and Sidharth), among others, doing well.

“I worked with two heroes in my first film too (Desi Boyz; 2011). So, I’m comfortable with the idea. I think it only makes things easier, as two actors can play off each other. Also, it’s full value for money for the audience, as they get to watch two heroes at one price. Creatively, though, you have to make sure that you do justice to both the talents. That can be challenging sometimes,” says Rohit.

Ego issues

When it comes to having two big stars on board, it’s likely that there will be ego clashes. “It’s true that egos, sometimes, are at play between two actors, but no one wants to miss out on a hit. If the trend has continued for so long, then clearly, actors put aside differences – if any – for quality work. Actors are smart too. They know that if there’s an able director, he or she will take care of everything during the making,” says trade analyst Komal Nahta.