A lot is at stake for Aamir Khan this year. As the actor turns 55 on Saturday, and in 2020 will be hoping for a bounce back after the critical and commercial disaster of his last release, Thugs of Hindostan.
Laal Singh Chaddha is currently in production under the direction of Advait Chandan. The official remake of Hollywood hit Forrest Gump already has its work cut out, with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic forcing several regions in China, a country in which Aamir has a huge fan following, to be put in quarantine. Theatres in the country have also been shut. With no indication of when things will get back to normal, Aamir would be hoping to retain Laal Singh Chaddha’s Christmas release date.
But the actor is no stranger to bouncing back after career setbacks. After delivering a big box office win with Sarfarosh in 1999, Aamir appeared in the back-to-back mediocre performer Mann (1999) and Mela (2000). Mela was the second collaboration between Aamir and director Dharmesh Darshan, who’d made Raja Hindustani with the actor to great success.
But Aamir bounced back in a big way with Lagaan, the Oscar-nominated 2001 sports drama directed by Ashutosh Gowariker. He followed it up with Dil Chahta Hai, a film that altered mainstream Hindi moviemaking forever, and established Aamir as the thinking man’s actor.
But another setback was in the offing. In 2005, after taking several years off because of his divorce, he starred in Mangal Pandey: The Rising, another Independence era drama hoping to build on the success of Lagaan. But the film managed only around Rs 50 crore at the box office. Aamir bounced back almost immediately though, with Rang De Basanti and Fanaa. The latter became one of the first films of the Hindi film industry to cross the Rs 100 crore mark worldwide.
Aamir’s hot streak continued for many years, with the back-to-back success of Tare Zameen Par, Ghajini and 3 Idiots, eclipsing his own records with each successive release. In 2011, however, he appeared in wife Kiran Rao’s Dhobhi Ghat, an ‘experimental’ film by Bollywood standards, whose Rs 14 crore haul shouldn’t ideally be compared to his other films. Aamir followed it up with Talaash, another modest performer, but then delivered the back-to-back hits Dhoom 3 (Rs 589 crore worldwide) and PK (over Rs 800 crore worldwide).
Thugs of Hindostan managed only Rs 303 crore against a reported budget between Rs 220- Rs 300 crore. It came after Aamir had established himself as one of the industry’s most bankable stars, with hits such as Dangal and Secret Superstar, both among the highest grossing Bollywood movies of all time.
Can he bounce back yet again? Will Laal Singh Chaddha retain its December release? Only time will tell, but if anyone can, it’s Aamir.
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