Salman has TV show Dus Ka Dum scheduled to go on air in the next few months. Promos have already started to be aired. A big question mark now hangs over the future of Dus Ka Dum. Bigg Boss, now in its twelfth season as India’s favourite reality show will also most likely have to do without Salman.
Advertisers too are likely to miss Salman. But perhaps not too much. The dashing Khan has been the brand ambassador for Thums Up, Revital, Wheel, Suzuki Motorcycles, Yatra.com, Dixcy Scott, Splash and Relaxo, besides possibly a few others, including Being Human. But with all the controversies surrounding him over the past few years, most brands have been a bit circumspect in using him as their face to the market. As it is, while SRK (Tag Heuer, Airtel, Videocon, Nerolac, Emami, Hyundai, Pepsodent, Dish TV, Big Basket etc.) and Aamir (Vivo, Samsung, Tata Sky, Coca-Cola, Titan, Snapdeal etc.) always endorsed classier and more up-market brands, Salman somehow had to remain content with middling to down-market offerings to the market. Thums Up was his most prominent endorsement but there too he got replaced by Ranveer Singh. Despite his superlative success on the big screen, somehow ad agencies and brands shied away from Salman. He was a successful brand but a flawed brand. Not safe to use despite all the explosive success he had had.
If Salman does go to jail for 5 years, then it is the beginning of the end for him. In fact, I would stick my neck out and say it is really the end for him, at least as far as brands and advertisers are concerned. The stigma of jail is not something any brand wants to be associated with. Sanjay Dutt is a good example to analyse here. After his release from Yerwada jail, Dutt made a big splash with claims of a big come back. However, his first movie post his jail stint, Bhoomi, received at best a very lukewarm response. He is shooting these days for Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster 3 which releases later this year but Bollywood feedback on the movie is not very optimistic. Similarly, Torbaaz, an action thriller set in Afghanistan is still only a bundle of hope. But the failure of Bhoomi has prompted Sanjay Dutt to give up on Omung Kumar’s Good Maharaja and also Total Dhamaal. Same is the fate of Sanjay Dutt in Blockbuster. Perhaps even Panipat and Housefull 4.
The truth of the matter is that the public forgets, but deep down never forgives. Salman Khan, at age 57, five years from now after spending time behind bars may not really remain the Bhaijaan that he is today. Whether he likes it or not, unless the courts give him an immediate reprieve, Brand Salman is headed into the sunset.
Sandeep Goyal is doing his PhD from FMS Delhi on Celebrities as Human Brands and has been tracking this domain for over a decade.
Disclaimer: Views expressed are personal. They do not reflect the view/s of Business Standard.