Exactly How ‘Big’ Is Salman Khan Today?

Even Salman Khan’s worst critics recognize that he is the biggest star in Bollywood today. In what has possibly been the one of the most glorious periods ever in this industry, Salman has delivered three huge blockbusters between Sep 2010 & Sep 2011, in Dabangg, Ready and Bodyguard. Many of his diehard fans privately recognize that none of these were cinematic masterpieces. But they worked purely on the charisma of their lead star. Take Salman Khan out of them, and there will be no Dabangg, no Ready, no Bodyguard.

So exactly how big is the Salman phenomenon? How far ahead of the pack is he, today?

We started tracking star popularity through our product Stars India Loves (SIL) from November 2010 onwards. Every month, a large sample of cine-goers is asked to name their two favorite male and female stars each. Unlike some other star ratings based on the box office, SIL is based purely on the consumer’s preference for the stars at that particular point of time. Hence, it is future-oriented in nature.

Since the SIL research asks people to name two stars, the total percentage share of all the stars adds up to 200. The chart below shows Salman’s month-on-month progression on SIL. As can be seen, even two months after the release of Dabangg, he was at 34%, just 3% ahead of Shahrukh Khan at 31%. If we back-project, it is safe to say that till August 2010, Shahrukh would have been ahead of Salman. But since then, Salman has simply bulldozed his way to the top, widening the gap, month-on-month. Shahrukh is still no. 2 in October 2011, at 27% share. But the 3% gap is now a staggering 25%.

The chart illustrates that his journey over the last year has been in two parts. The Dabangg phenomenon gave him ascendency till February this year, where he peaked at 46%. And just as his share was beginning to saturate, Ready gave it another fillip, this time a huge one, taking him past the 50% mark. Bodyguard couldn’t take it further up, but even two months after its release, Salman shows no signs of losing share.

Who did Salman grab this 18% share from?
No one person lost a sizeable chunk. But four stars lost some share in this period. Aamir Khan and Ranbir Kapoor (till Rockstar) have not had a major release for a while now. Amitabh Bachchan has had a very lean year by his busy standards. The only “real” drop in share has been Akshay Kumar’s, who moved down from 24% in April 2011, to 16% now, losing three ranks within six months, down from no. 3 to no. 6.

Which target audience is he the strongest in?
That’s probably the secret behind his success – he is appealing to every single target segment today, equally well. He crosses 50% share amongst males, females, youth, adults, and in each research market. All other stars are skewed towards a particular audience profile. For example, Shahrukh, Ranbir & Shahid are heavily female audience skewed. While Ajay, Devgn, Akshay and Aamir are male audience skewed. But not Salman. Evidently, everyone loves him. Just about everyone.

2012 is another big year for Salman. Ek Tha Tiger and Dabangg 2 release on Eid and Christmas respectively. It may be difficult to gain too much share beyond the 52% he currently controls, but it is safe to say that 2012 won’t end on a lower number either.

The best part about Salman’s success is that he seems entirely untouched by it. Though sometimes, I wish he understood the amount of people power that rests with him today, and used it to make better, more path-breaking films.

But then, if we don’t have four action scenes, five songs, six comedy gags and seven clap traps, it is not a Salman Khan film, right?

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About Shailesh Kapoor

Founder & CEO - Ormax Media. Film Lover. Media Insights Detective. Budding Author. Lifelong Student.
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34 Responses to Exactly How ‘Big’ Is Salman Khan Today?

  1. harsht says:

    Shailesh,
    Interesting product. Of course my academic interest is the reaction of the Industry to a product like SIL? Would it be something studios would look at when making casting decisions?

    • Yes, it’s one of the inputs. Often, star dates are blocked for upto 2-3 years, for the top 5-7 stars. So the casting decision can often get taken by default. But something like SIL is far more useful for casting for female stars.

  2. Jayesh says:

    Superb analysis. Many share the agony of such a beloved guy doing such mediocre work.

    One doubt: I think this is like the Govinda phenomenon of 90s and Akki recently. This is bound to fizzle spectacularly, and the relatively long break till next Eid may dampen the excitement provided there is a huge mass market, small town hit in the meanwhile.

    • I am intrigued by last 2 lines of your comment jayesh how does other films being hit will affect salman’s popularity and his films? Its not that there were no hits in between dabangg and ready ,& ready and Bodyguard

    • I disagree that this Sal phase is anything like Govinda/Akki. Yes, Govinda and Akki may have given back to back hits. But they never had the kind of HUGE fan-following Salman has had ever since I can remember and still has undoubtedly the largest fan-following in domestic market. I am very sure Akshay never topped any of these popularity charts like SIL.

      • Yolanda says:

        The type of physician I would like to work for is a Pediatrician. Pediatrician’s stiaeclpy is to work with children. I have been working with children for a long time mainly because I work at a daycare facility. I’ve got to a point where I feel like I can handle anything that will come my way with them. It would also leave me feeling good at the end of the day to know that I have helped in some way to make a child feel better.The type of physician I would not care to work for is a Epidemiologist. Epidemiologist’s specialize in epidemics caused by infections agents and also work with sexually transmitted diseases. I feel if I were to work in this type of stiaeclpy I would be putting my self at risk of exposure to these infectious agents. Also I would be focusing a lot of my time on trying to not get infected instead of having a steady mind on what I was actually supposed to be doing.

  3. Anonymous says:

    salman was alwas big frm maine pyar kia, had many upz nd downs,jst tat before dabang,he has d0ne worst m0vies nd al were delayed , so mediocre m0vies also working nw cuz ppl jst loved to c him . . . .

  4. siddhant lolge says:

    salman was alwas big frm maine pyar
    kia, had many upz nd downs,jst tat
    before dabang,he has d0ne worst
    m0vies nd al were delayed , so mediocre
    m0vies also working nw cuz ppl jst
    loved to c him . . . .

  5. sumeet says:

    awesome articlw loved it

  6. Nice article , but dont agree with clubbing of Dabangg with bodguard and ready as dabangg was not a medicore film unlike the other 2.
    In fact if we go by trending at the BO and WOM done by ormax ready has been liked very much,only bodyguard was a bad bad bad film which didnt even deserve a hit tag.

    • sourav says:

      did not expect this lines 4rm a salman fan like u. bodyguard also had a huge appealing & great word of mouth. check boi.ready & bodyguard were hugely appreciated.

  7. Keerat says:

    Nice article Shailesh! SIL stats help one predict that Salman is bound to hold-on tight to his No.1 position, and so will continue to rule the roost next year as well. But, there are two things that I’m most curious to know!.
    One: Will SRK ever regain the numero uno position now, or is that definitely a thing of the past? How precarious is his position at No. 2 also?
    Two: WHAT it is that makes Salman Khan tick with ‘every single target segment today, equally well’??

  8. You know an actor is doing really well when he doesn’t have to declare to the world that he is the KING.
    Salman may just go to sleep looking at the graph & stats here. Perhaps that’s why he is so adorable.

  9. Pingback: NAACHGAANA » Blog Archive » Exactly How ‘Big’ Is Salman Khan Today?

  10. imsrk says:

    hahah …so whr is sallu’s larget fans before dabang ..even wanted was hit bt y veer flopped …

    get a lyf ….its just his tym …..largest fan following my foot

    nw yers srk struglig for a huge success ….mnik n raaone both fall flat

    …….its a film which make …everyone …A star fans …

    dekh lenge Ett ko bhi

  11. fan says:

    salman khan does not need this SIL research to prove the world how big he is. He was big from the very first day when he entered this entertainment world.

  12. Rajkushal@live.com says:

    Height of joblessness in India. One guy doles out a statistic based on few twitter polls. Show the numbers behind polls. What cross section of people were polled. What is the scientific authenticity of the poll and statistics.
    But yes, you are shrewd and know people eat up all these nonsense. As a CEO of a company that i hope has a very systematic approach backed up completely by data, this one looks like potpouri…
    Now dont label me that i am Salman hater or fan of other guys like Aamir or SRK. This is just my opinion on this increasing trend of number crunching and putting a number behind a person to guage popularity

  13. Siddharth says:

    One more point to gauge Salman’s popularity – His face is displayed in the banners of Madame Tussauds Museum, instead of SRK, Amitabh, Aishwarya or Hrithik…! The first statue which one can lay eyes upon, when entering the museum is that of SALMAN KHAN, the man with charisma and license to fame 😉

  14. SalluLicious says:

    Nice blog but Salman Khan has been always on top and has been the biggest star as well as having a loyal fan following.Though between 2003 and 2008 some of his movies weren’t doing wonderful box office business because he was doing projects for his friends and not concentrating on his career. Some people now claim that only Dabangg made him a big star but if they go and check his career graph from 1989 they will realize that he has given maximum hits, blockbusters, All Time Blockbusters without big banners. Anyways even if other stars movies do good business in 2012 onward they will never be able to reach the height of Salman Bro’s. (SalluLicious)!

  15. Bandhudas Banerjee says:

    Salman had a great fan following and popularity even when he was going through a professionaly lean period. As far as popularity goes, he never had a lean period. He really doesn’t need these surveys. People’s love for him is evident. He was offerred Dus ka Dum and it became popular even before the release of ‘Wanted’. If he does good projects and maintains himself well, I don’t see a reason for his graph to go down.

  16. Sal Lovesal says:

    Like salman most of the film, but more are attracted to his charisma, he never show off, to treat people the same attitude

  17. kedar says:

    nice article, u will see superstar salman khan working with Yash Chopra banner first time. remember he has done only 1 special appearance with karan johar. n he is at this position. think if he would have agreed to do films with this banners earlier. n i bet EK THA TIGER will earn NET collections of 250+ crore. mark my words.

  18. Anonymous says:

    salman khan the best actor in bollywood this actor legend of bollywood

  19. reham mohamed says:

    salman khan the best actor in bollywood this actor legend of bollywood

  20. Tarik says:

    amazing Great article

    Salman Khan Simply The Legend of Bollywood ..

    Thanks

  21. Tango says:

    Salman’s popularity exceeds even that of Big B. Big B had no suitable competition in his time. Good stories, good directors and producers also make a millenium actor. Salman without all such support is still Numero Uno….

  22. Thank you for every other excellent article. Where else may just anybody get that kind of information in such an ideal approach of writing? I’ve a presentation subsequent week, and I’m on the look for such info.

  23. Naveed says:

    Great work Shailesh

    Salman has always been a mega star but he has due to many reasons faltered but now he seems more focused than ever and if people think the last few years were great years for him then just await for the hurricane on Eid and then on Christmas.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Ya its right bt akshay kumar has too many fan followings bt guys like u bring hm dwn media too yar khan tin hai kumar ek personality akki jaisa hna tino natru khan bi nai le skte

  25. source says:

    Fantastic Stuff, do you currently have a myspace profile?

  26. smitadesai says:

    Salman khan always rocks in future too hope soo ooo

  27. smitadesai says:

    Salman khan’s popularity is unbelievable&uncomfortable
    Cooper to other stars

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