Bollywood's elite '100-crore club' is getting bigger - and richer



Bollywood's league of extraordinary gentlemen, all members of the 100-crore club (100 crore equals a billion Indian rupees; Dh66.3m), is growing, and fast. A sort of unofficial Bollywood hall of fame that everyone loves to hate and hates to admit they love, the 100-crore club is reserved for actors whose films have sailed past this mark on Indian soil.

Aamir Khan has the honour of being the club's founding member, thanks to his hit thriller Ghajini (2008), the first film in Indian history to earn 100 crore at the box office.

Others didn't take long to catch up.

Salman Khan's action film Dabangg (2010) immediately secured him a spot, followed by Ajay Devgn for the comedy Golmaal 3 (2010). Shah Rukh Khan was inducted via his sci-fi superhero action film Ra.One (2011).

Salman swiftly solidified his spot last year with two more 100-crore films: the action-romance Bodyguard and the romcom Ready. Not resting on their laurels, SRK and Devgn followed suit with Don 2 and Singham, respectively.

This year, the club welcomed Hrithik Roshan (Agneepath), Abhishek Bachchan (Bol Bachchan) and, of course, the irrepressible Akshay Kumar, who recently starred in three consecutive super hits: Desi Boyz, Housefull 2 and Rowdy Rathore.

As with all clubs, this one is quite elitist, and there is serious debate on whether it includes actresses and directors. I believe it does, and that makes Kareena Kapoor the leader of this pack. She has, after all, four 100-crore grossers under her belt (3 Idiots, Ra.One, Bodyguard and Golmaal 3). The filmmaker Rohit Shetty is also a member with three hits (Golmaal 3, Singham and Bol Bachchan).

Depending on the turnout in Indian theatres this weekend, the 100-crore club might have to move over and make space for a bigger and much better one: the 200-crore (2 billion rupees) club. Just as Aamir Khan was the one to inaugurate the 100-crore club, he also laid the foundation for the 200-crore club with his 2009 comedy 3 Idiots (co-starring Kareena Kapoor). Since then, not a single film has crossed this mark.

Not for long though, it seems. The forthcoming Eid release Ek Tha Tiger, starring Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif, looks all set to become the second film in Bollywood history to match the takings of 3 Idiots. For Salman Khan, that will mean beating Kapoor's stats in both the 100-crore and 200-crore clubs.

If the film actually does make more than 2bn rupees, it will mean big profits for the producers - the film was made on a comparatively modest budget of 70 crore (700 million rupees; Dh46.4m). The Kabir Khan-directed film does have everything going for it: Sal-Kat as the leading pair, an Eid weekend release that also coincides with the anniversary of India's independence, and enough pre-release hysteria to have sold out tickets more than a week ahead of its release.

The release date, by the way, is a clever move - everyone will be on holiday and in a festive, patriotic mood. What other reason does one need to go and see a film about an Indian spy on a quest to save his country? Besides Katrina Kaif, of course.

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