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Can Rajkumar Hirani Resurrect Sagging Career Of SRK With ‘Dunki’?

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By: Navneet Mundhra
Updated: April 20, 2022 16:08
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On Tuesday, Shah Rukh Khan and Raj Kumar Hirani released a video to announce their next movie ‘Dunki’ which is slated to release on December 22, 2023. In the announcement video, SRK, in his customary style, is deploying self-deprecating humour to show how he’s willing to give an arm and a leg to work with Hirani at this stage of his career.

Since 2014, SRK’s career has been in a downward spiral as a string of his movies have torpedoed at the turnstiles. Movies such as ‘Dilwale’, ‘Fan’, ‘Jab Harry Met Sejal’ and ‘Zero’ were toplied by celebrated directors and producers but failed miserably. ‘Raees’ in 2017 was an exception but even that movie wasn’t a huge success and just about managed to save its blushes.

After the debacle of ‘Zero’ in 2018, SRK took a sabbatical to introspect about his sagging fortunes and retool career strategy. Since then, no movie of his has hit the screens.

Hirani, on the other hand, has been riding the crest of stupendous success with his debut movie as a director ‘Munna Bhai MBBS’, which came in 2003. At present, he’s the most successful and acclaimed director in Bollywood having delivered 5 superhits – ‘Munna Bhai MBBS, ‘Lage Raho Munna Bhai’, ‘3 Idiots’, ‘PK’ and ‘Sanju’ in a row. Interestingly, SRK was Hirani’s first choice for movies such as ‘Munna Bhai MBBS’ and ‘3 Idiots’ but things didn’t work out between them due to a host of reasons.

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The announcement of ‘Dunki’ has come at a time when SRK is at the lowest ebb and is clutching at straws to resurrect his career, while Hirani’s stocks are at an all-time high. However, SRK’s ‘Pathaan’, produced by Aditya Chopra’, will be released before Hirani’s movie. The action drama will see the light of day in January 2023, while Hirani’s movie will hit the screens in December 2023.

So, will Hirani’s movie give a second wind to SRK’s career and shore up his fortunes?

“Right now, Hirani is the biggest director in Bollywood; in fact, he’s SS Rajamouli of Bollywood. His movies become blockbusters because of him, not because of stars. The content is the king in his films. SRK has been a superstar, but right now the stature and credibility of Hirani among the audience is much higher than that of SRK,” noted exhibitor Vishek Chauhan told The New Indian.

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“Hirani gave a superhit with Sanjay Dutt at a stage when his career was on the wane. He delivered a blockbuster ‘Sanju’ with Ranbir Kapoor in 2018 when the actor had not given a big hit since 2013. Hirani can give a blockbuster with anyone. Star of his movie is almost immaterial. Looking at Hirani’s track record and his ability as a director, ‘Dunki’ will be a monumental hit in all likelihood. However, almost the entire credit will go to Hirani,” he added.

Vishek believes that the real test of SRK’s stardom will be his movie with the director Atlee. “I think Atlee’s movie will be a litmus test of SRK’s stardom. The box-office outcome of that movie will determine the future of SRK as a leading star,” he noted.

When asked why SRK went off the boil after 2014, Vishek said, “See, SRK has not done a movie since 2014 which justifies his stardom. His choices were bad. Also, he was stuck in the romantic hero image and couldn’t break out of it.”

“He earned his fame by working with big directors in his heydays such as Yash Chopra, Aditya Chopra, Karan Johar, and Sanjay Leela Bhansali in largely romantic family dramas. But after a certain age, one is no longer suitable to play such roles. When he tried to experiment, the audience rejected him,” he concluded.

SRK is clearly at a crossroads. With the release of ‘Pathaan’ and ‘Dunki’, 2023 is likely to be the make or mar year for him as a leading star. If these films click in a big way, he’ll be back in harness or else will ride into the sunset.

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