As the possibility of superstar Salman Khan's incarceration looms large, how deeply will Bollywood be affected?
While Harish Salve, one of the country's top legal eagles, may have secured interim relief for Salman Khan, the Damocles' sword continues to hang over his head. hitlist takes a look at what all is at stake if the actor ends up in prison...
Salman Khan with his father Salim Khan and mother Salma outside the court. pic/yogen shah
Salman is among the highest paid celebrities in India when it comes to endorsing brands. From soft drinks to vests, the actor reportedly endorses more than 10 different products. Experts, however, feel that the courtjudgment will have no adverse impact on his endorsement or brand value. Explains adman Bharat Dabholkar, "Advertising and endorsement deals are signed for a year or two. If the performance of the stars dips, you won't be able to cancel it immediately because you have already paid them the entire amount. Also, with Salman, there is no great negative publicity like in Sanjay Dutt's case where there was an anti-national wave. So sponsors and advertisers will not be jittery because he is not in news with the public opinion against him."
Salman Khan comes out of the sessions court for the verdict in the 2002 hit-and-run case. The court awarded him a five-year jail term after finding him guilty of all charges. Pic/Bipin Kokate
Films on floor
Salman's immediate worry would be to complete the films that are currently being shot — 'Prem Ratan Dhan Payo' and 'Bajrangi Bhaijaan'. An official of Rajshri Productions, which is producing the former, says, "We were expecting a lesser sentence for him. Our film as well as his other projects are yet to be completed. Nearly 75 per cent has been shot so far, but the major portions with Salman are pending. We hope that the higher court gives a favourable judgment."
Now with his lawyers aiming to secure bail for him, Salman looks well on course to complete his pending assignments. Says Amod Mehra, "Salman must have finished shooting a great deal for both these movies. Besides, courts do allow actors to complete their pending assignments so that their prolonged absence does not cause irreversible loss to the producers and crew."
Salman has three mega projects in his kitty that are yet to go on floors, which includes Karan Johar's Shuddhi, YRF's Sultan and Boney Kapoor's No Entry sequel. While Salman's possible imprisonment would mean personal loss for him as he wouldn't be able to star in any of these projects, there is no real loss on paper for the producers concerned as none of the films has gone on floors yet. However, filmmakers at this juncture are more concerned about Salman and his well-being. Says Boney Kapoor, "Our prayers are with him and I hope he finds all the strength to come out of this. Whether our film will happen or not is not something we are thinking about right now."
Trade pundits, however, are adopting a wait-and-watch policy at the moment. Trade expert Komal Nahta states, "I don't think anything would be affected if he gets bail. So he will be free to work and I believe the court will not put any restrictions on the same. It all depends on what the appellate court orders and how long the bail term would last."
Mehra, too, believes that filmmakers would not be adventurous in signing Salman and prefer to act post High Court's detailed judgment.
(Inputs: Sonali Joshi Pitale)