Filmmakers  plan  return to multi-starrers to draw audiences

While featuring several stars can add to the project’s costs, some actors agree to take a share in profits rather than a fat upfront fee to aid production.

Lata Jha
Updated28 Nov 2022
Allu Arjun’s multilingual 'Pushpa: The Rise' last December saw Malayalam star Fahadh Faasil feature along with him.  Photo: Twitter/@GTelefilms
Allu Arjun’s multilingual ’Pushpa: The Rise’ last December saw Malayalam star Fahadh Faasil feature along with him. Photo: Twitter/@GTelefilms

Indian movies are set to bring back the big multi-star films that were a hit until the 1980s to draw audiences back to the theatres. With few stars able to pack houses, filmmakers are creating mixed-star cast projects for wider acceptance.

While Shah Rukh Khan will be seen in Jawan, along with Nayanthara and Vijay Sethupathi—both popular Tamil stars—Prabhas’ Salaar will feature Malayalam actor Prithviraj Sukumaran. And Salman Khan’s Tiger 3 features Emraan Hashmi as the antagonist.

The trend seems to have gained ground post the release of Allu Arjun’s multilingual Pushpa: The Rise- Part One last December, which saw Malayalam star Fahadh Faasil feature along with him. Trade experts say it is easier to secure funding for projects when multiple stars are on board, and each ensures their fan-base contributes to the box office.

“There is a realization that no actor is a big draw that can aid a big-budget solo release,” admitted Atul Mohan, editor of the trade magazine Complete Cinema. The trend of multi-starrers was well-established in Hindi cinema in the 1970s and the ’80s, Mohan said, when stars like Amitabh Bachchan, Vinod Khanna, Shashi Kapoor and Shatrughan Sinha would often feature in films together. However, it began to dissipate in the 2000s when most stars felt they didn’t need another big name to justify high budgets and aid box office recovery, Mohan added.

Film producer and distributor Sunny Khanna agreed that mega-budget projects necessitate multiple stars at the moment, the latest example having been thrown up by the Hollywood superhero flick Black Adam, which features several superhero characters. It had made over 48 crore in India at last count.

Even blockbuster American franchises like Avengers bring multiple stars together, with the last film Endgame, remaining the highest-grossing Hollywood film of all time in India at over 373 crore. While featuring several stars can add to the project’s costs, some actors agree to take a share in profits rather than a fat upfront fee to aid production.

“Actors also realize they’re getting to be part of big franchises, and their fandom will only benefit from viewers getting to see them in these mega projects,” Khanna said. He cited the example of Rohit Shetty’s cop film Sooryavanshi that, along with lead star Akshay Kumar, brought in Ranveer Singh and Ajay Devgn, stars of Shetty’s other cop films, Simmba and Singham, albeit for guest appearances.The lead cast is definitely currency for filmmakers at a time many viewers are shying away from visiting theatres, said Vaibhav Modi, founder-director at Victor Tango Entertainment, a production house.

“Makers are packaging projects in a way that would make people spend time and money on a movie. It could either be a large-scale spectacle or to do with the relevance of the theme or a great cast,” Modi said.

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