Bollywood Record Holders

(Top L-R) Aamir Khan, Amitabh Bachchan, Madhuri Dixit, Rohit Shetty, Salman Khan and (Bottom L-R) composers Laxmikant-Pyarelal, Naushad and filmmaker Rajkumar Hirani, are among the record setters of Hindi cinema. (photo provided)

MUMBAI—In 2016, Akshay Kumar completed a hat-trick of 100 crore-plus grossing movies with “Airlift,” “Housefull 3” and “Rustom.” Kumar thus became the first and so far only star to have got a hat-trick of such movies in (less than a) single calendar year.

The stars

Otherwise, within 12 months (which is a year, length-wise), Salman Khan has achieved this feat twice, with “Dabangg,” “Ready” and “Bodyguard” between September 2010 and August 2011, and “Bajrangi Bhaijaan,” “Prem Ratan Dhan Payo” and “Sultan” between August 2015 and July 2016. Kumar has also now reprised his success, with “Gold,” “2.0” and “Kesari” released between August 2018 and March 2019.

Salman Khan now holds the record for not just the maximum 100 crore-grossing films but also the highest consecutive score of hits among any actor in Hindi cinema. His last 13 films in the lead have all fallen into this category, though “Tubelight” was a flop among them, and so he has 11 hits in a row. Three of these films, “Bajrangi…,” “Sultan” and “Tiger Zinda Hai,” rank among the seven highest-grossing Hindi films of all time globally (along with Aamir Khan’s “PK” and “Dangal,” Ranveer Singh’s “Padmaavat” and Ranbir Kapoor’s “Sanju” – a near 50 percent score) and he is the only star who has more than one film as yet in that super-elite club. We look at “Bahubali2: The Conclusion” here as a fundamentally Telugu film.

And, it is a Salman Khan film that has topped annual business in 11 of the 20 years that have passed since his debut – 1989 (“Maine Pyar Kiya”), 1991 (“Saajan”), 1994 (“Hum Aapke Hain Koun!... ”), 1998 (“Kuch Kuch Hota Hai” in a special cameo), 1999 (“Biwi No.1”), 2005 (“No Entry”) and consecutively from 2010’s “Dabangg” through “Bodyguard” (2011) and then “Ek Tha Tiger” in 2012, “Bajrangi Bhaijaan” in 2015 and “Tiger Zinda Hai” in 2017.

Aamir Khan has an unusual distinction: he has started the 100 crore grossing club with “Ghajini” (2008), given the second consecutive 100 crore film (“3 Idiots”) which was also the first 200-crore grossing movie, and again starred in the first film to cross the 250 crore (“Dhoom:3) and the 300 crore mark with “PK.” His “Dangal” proved to be the first film to cross the Rs. 350 crore mark!

Records are thus meant to be set, broken and reset. Hindi cinema was not always about 100 crore-grossing films (which include those films whose costing crossed 100 crore and were technically losers or break-even propositions despite the volume of Indian nett box-office business) but was earlier about Silver Jubilees (those that ran for 25 weeks at least in one theatre in the country, preferably in regular shows, not just matinees), Golden Jubilees (50 weeks, ditto) and hits and blockbusters, many doing 60, 75 and 100 week runs (mostly concluding with matinee or noon shows) and a few crossing even beyond.

The meeting-point of the two eras was “3 Idiots” (2009), which netted over 200 crore in India and was also the last Golden Jubilee.

In 1978, Amitabh Bachchan annexed all the four biggest hits of that year. In those days, hits were listed and graded according to the ratio of the return on investment on just theatrical earnings, as there was no other source of revenue until they were shown on television a year or two later. The films, in that order of success quotients, were “Muqaddar Ka Sikander,” “Don,” “Trishul” and “Kasme Vaade.” All four were Golen Jubilees, with the first and third touching a run of 100 weeks each.

Between “Zanjeer” (1973) and 1984’s “Sharaabi,” Bachchan had twenty 50-week runners, of which “Sholay,” the greatest hit in the history of Indian cinema, ran for over 250 weeks (150 in regular shows), “Roti Kapada Aur Makaan,” “Deewaar” and “Trishul” ran for 100 weeks and “Amar Akbar Anthony” for 75 weeks! There was a minimum one Golden Jubilee every year for him in this 12-year phase!

(On a far smaller scale, Salman Khan annexed the top three hits of the year 1999 – “Biwi No. 1,” “Hum Saath Saath Hain” and “Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam”).

For two consecutive years in the 1970s, Hema Malini never had a flop! Between 1974 and 1975, she had a dozen lead releases, and 11 were Silver Jubilee hits, and one (“Dulhan”) did average business. The blockbusters among them were “Dost,” “Amir Garib,” “Haath Ki Safai,” “Premnagar,” “Pratiggya,” “Sanyasi” and “Sholay.”

Madhuri Dixit-Nene now has the highest score of mega-hits since she struck it big with (and including) the biggest hit of 1988, “Tezaab.” Since then, she starred in the biggest hits of 1990 (“Dil”), 1991(“Saajan”) and 1992 (“Beta”) becoming the only star, male or female, to have the biggest hits in three consecutive years in those days (Salman reprised that feat as shown above), and again topping the list in 1994 with “Hum Aapke Hain Koun!...” – and so, in five of the 15 years of her peak stardom, she had the greatest hits!

The sole survivor of the Bachchan and star-sons onslaught for two decades, Rishi Kapoor had 12 Golden Jubilees between 1973 and 1992, a score next only to him. Seven of these were either as solo lead (“Bobby,” “Sargam,” “Prem Rog,” “Nagina,” “Bol Radha Bol”) or as the more popular/senior hero (“Hum Kisise Kum Naheen,” “Deewana”). The solo lead quantum was higher than even Bachchan!

The Filmmakers

Manmohan Desai never directed a single flop between “Aa Gale Lag Jaa” in 1973 and “Mard” in 1985. He thus directed 12 successful movies in a row, with “Desh Premee” being the only average grosser among them. The films, other than the four mentioned below, were “Roti,” “Suhaag,” “Naseeb” and “Coolie.” Desai also annexed these four of the five biggest money-spinners of 1977 –  in order of success, “Amar Akbar Anthony,” “Dharam-Veer,” “Parvarish” and “Chacha Bhatija.” The third highest position here was held by Nasir Husain’s “Hum Kisise Kum Naheen.”

What’s more, all the four films were lost-and-found dramas co-written by Prayag Raj, were edited by Kamalakar, had music by Laxmikant-Pyarelal with three common playback singers – Lata Mangeshkar, Mohammed Rafi and Kishore Kumar! Each of these films had a hit male-bonding song. Three of the films starred Neetu Singh as one of the heroines, Jeevan as one of the villains and were co-written by Kader Khan. Anand Bakshi wrote lyrics for three of the films and Asha Bhosle and Shailendra Singh sang in three films each!

Yash Chopra remains the only director to work with a single two-hero male combination in as many as five films – Shashi Kapoor and Amitabh Bachchan worked in his “Deewaar,” “Kabhi Kabhie,” “Trishul,” “Kaala Patthar” and “Silsila.”

Between his debut directorial “Tumsa Nahin Dekha” in 1957 to “Hum Kisise Kum Naheen” 20 years later, Nasir Husain never directed a flop. “Dil Deke Dekho,” “Jab Pyar Kisise Hota Hai,” “Phir Wohi Dil Laya Hoon,” “Baharon Ke Sapne,” “Pyar Ka Mausam,” “Caravan” and “Yaadon Ki Baaraat” were his other films. In this span, he also produced the successful “Teesri Manzil.” After the 1973 “Yaadon Ki Baraat,” he had said in an interview, “Wait! I will give you a flop!” That happened only in 1982 with “Zamaane Ko Dikhaana Hai!”

Rajkumar Hirani, after five films, has yet to give a plain hit. All his directorial (“Munna Bhai MBBS,” “Lage Raho Munna Bhai,” “3 Idiots,” “PK,” and “Sanju”) have been blockbusters.

Director Rohit Shetty’s only true flop has been “Sunday” in 2007. Even his first film, “Zameen,” released as a flop in 2003, is now a hit on satellite television. From “Golmaal Returns” in 2008 to “Simmba” in 2018, Shetty has had a non-stop array of 10 hits, super-hits and blockbusters, and even the (investment-wise) flop “Dilwale” netted more than a hundred crore! Before 2008, he also had a success in “Golmaal: Fun Unlimited” (2006).  And “Golmaal” is THE only franchise that is four films old but has had every successive film go far ahead of the previous one in business and popularity.

David Dhawan has directed 43 films in his career so far, and 24 of them have been successful to various extents – a 56 percent success score in so much prolific work is indeed commendable, especially vis-à-vis other hugely prolific directors who never had a comparable innings.

Records in music and writing

Of about 80 films in a record-breaking career of 66 years (from 1940 to 2005!), Naushad scored music for 15 Golden Jubilees. This is a record of almost twenty percent (16!) of his total films!

Laxmikant-Pyarelal gave Hindi cinema its first Stereophonic Sound album (V. Shantaram’s “Jal Bin Machhli Nritya Bin Bijli” in 1971, the first song in 4-track Stereo (“Om Shanti Om” in “Karz”) in 1980, and the first individual film score released on a CD in “Ram Lakhan” (1989). They scored music for four of the five biggest hits of 1977(see under Manmohan Desai) and again in 1983 ( “Coolie,” “Hero,” “Andhaa Kaanoon” and “Avtaar,” with R.D. Burman’s “Betaab” in fourth position) and the top three hits of 1986 (“Nagina,” “Karma”  and “Swarag Se Sunder”). Next to Ilaiyarajaa, who holds the unbeatable record among Indian composers, L-P have done the highest number of HINDI films as yet – 478! – and are leading in the current fad of “re-created” songs as well.

Nadeem-Shravan scored music for 11 Golden Jubilees within 1990 to 1997. This was the highest score in the 1990s. Big and small, they won 13 awards for their music in “Aashiqui.”

Anand Bakshi and Sameer led many records through their associations with L-P and N-S respectively. Their individual tallies of films have been more than 500!

Finally, Salim-Javed as writers never had a flop between their first joint film (“Haathi Mere Saathi”) in 1971 to “Sholay” in 1975 – a list comprising “Andaz,” “Seeta Aur Geeta,” “Zanjeer,” “Yaadon Ki Baraat,” “Haath Ki Safai,” “Deewaar,” “Aakhri Dao” and “Sholay.”

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