Why Salman Khan remains Bollywood's undisputed 'Sultan'

Birthday special: Five reasons why Salman Khan continues to be Bollywood's undisputed 'Sultan'

Salman is a force to be reckoned with on all three major mediums of storytelling — TV, cinema and OTT

Bollywood superstar Salman Khan. Credit: Reuters File Photo

Salman Khan is inarguably one of the biggest and most sought-after names in the Hindi film industry. The star enjoys a strong fan following due to his impressive screen presence, sincere performances and enviable physique.  

On Monday, as Salman turns a year older,  here is a look at why the veteran remains Bollywood's 'Sultan' despite the emergence of younger stars.

He knows the pulse of the audience

Salman began his career as a leading man with Maine Pyaar Kiya, which emerged as a hit when it was released in theatres in 1989. He consolidated his standing in the industry with films such as Andaz Apna Apna, Hum Aapke Hain Koun..! and Karan Arjun, emerging as the choice of the family audience. The actor, however, suffered a setback in the 2000s when movies such as Kyun Ki?, Jaan-e-Mann and Dil Ne Jise Apna Kahaa failed to live up to expectations. This prompted him to experiment with his reel image with the 2009 movie Wanted. The Prabhudeva-helmed movie featured him in the role of a deadly 'gangster' and helped him make a transition from softer characters to macho ones. The actioner emerged as a big hit at the box office, proving to be a gamechanger for him.

'Sallu' went on to star in action-packed movies such as Tiger zinda Hai, the Dabangg series and Kick, established himself as Bollywood's 'Most Wanted' A-lister. His ability to tweak his image to suit the tastes of the audience, gave him an edge over his peers.

A winner on all platforms

Salman is a force to be reckoned with on all three major mediums of storytelling — TV, cinema and OTT. Salman consolidated his standing as a box office draw with blockbusters such as Hum Aapke Hain Koun..!, Judwaa, Tiger Zinda Hain and Bodyguard. He made his small screen debut when he hosted 10 Ka Dum, which garnered impressive ratings. 'Bhai' worked his magic in the tellyworld again when he hosted the fourth season of Bigg Boss in 2010. The very fact that he has been associated with the show since bears testimony to his talent.

The Covid-19 pandemic prompted several established Bollywood names to try their luck on OTT. Salman was no exception as his film Radhe released on Zee5 in India, skipping the theatrical route, and garnered staggering 4.2 million views on day 1. There were reports of the platform's servers crashing due to high traffic hours after the movie premiered as an Eid gift for the 'Bhai gang'.

It's not always about him

The actor has never hesitated to be part of two-hero projects and multistarrers. He appeared alongside Shah Rukh Khan in the classic Karan-Arjun. 'Prem' shared screen space with Ajay Devgn in the blockbuster Hum Dil Chuke Sanam and the musical drama London Dreams. Salman has impressed in multi-starrers such as No Entry and Heroes.

His biggest quality, however, is the fact that he has often taken a step back to let his co-stars shine. This became clear when he delivered a restrained performance in Bajrangi Bhaijaan to let Harshaali win hearts. 'Sallu' agreed to essay an 'extended cameo' in Antim, which featured the Ayush Sharma as the proverbial 'hero'

Versatile as they come

There is a perception that Salman does not have an impressive range as a performer. The reality, however, is quite different. He rose to fame with family-friendly films such as Maine Pyaar Kiya and Hum Saath Saath Hain, which attained cult status. He was equally successful in light-hearted films such as Judwaa, No Entry, Partner and Ready. Action films have been his forte since 2010. The star also headlined the grand period drama Veer, adding a new dimension to his career. While the film did not do well at the box office, it has garnered praise over the years.

The future is bright

Generally speaking, actors slow down after a certain age as not enough offers come their way, making it difficult for them to keep up with the newer generation. Salman is clearly an exception to this trend as he has several films in his kitty. 

The mass hero is set to appear as the secret agent Tiger in the Yash Raj Films-backed Tiger 3 and Pathan. He will be seen alongside Pooja Hegde in Kabhi Eid Kabhi Diwali, touted to be based on the Tamil movie Veeram.

Salman recently confirmed that will soon reunite with ace writer K V Vijayendra Prasad for a sequel to their 2015 blockbuster Bajrangi Bhaijaan. The actor is likely to announce a few more movies in the coming months.

Check out latest DH videos here

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox

Check out all newsletters

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox