Bollywood star Salman Khan’s latest release ‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan’ had a strong opening weekend over the Eid holiday weekend, proving that he has box-office drawing power despite a recent conviction in a hit-and-run accident case.
Deemed as one of India’s most bankable stars, Salman, 49, was convicted and sentenced to five years in the 2002 hit-and-run case, in which the actor, alleged to be driving under the influence, ran over and killed a homeless man and injured four others in Mumbai.
But despite the legal controversy, Salman’s film, co-produced by his own banner ‘Salman Khan Films’ and distributed by Eros International worldwide, crossed the one billion rupee (about £10.2 million) mark in its first three days of release.
Reuniting with director Kabir Khan who delivered the star’s 2012 hit ‘Ek Tha Tiger’, ‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan’ – which also stars actress Kareena Kapoor – was one of the year’s most anticipated releases in India given the actor has dominated the Eid release window in recent years. Last year, Salman Khan starred in the action hit ‘Kick’ during the holiday weekend.
‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan’ stars Khan as a former wrestler and devout follower of the Hindu monkey god Hanuman who wants to reunite a mute six-year-old girl (Harshaali Malhotra) with her family in Pakistan after she accidentally crosses the border to India.
The decision to address the long-running tense relations between India and Pakistan over the state of Kashmir, where the film was partly shot, has drawn praise from critics. The film was also released in Pakistan.
When Salman Khan was convicted and bailed, there was intense speculation over whether his legal case would affect his star power and marketing appeal given his various product endorsement deals. The actor has also hosted three seasons of the Indian version of Big Brother on Viacom18’s Colors channel.