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SC verdict puts a shadow over Salman Khan’s projects

The Supreme Court’s quashing of the stay order given by the Rajasthan High Court on the conviction of Salman Khan, in a case involving hunting the protected blackbuck in Rajasthan, might cost the Bollywood actor and producer about Rs 150 crore.

With two films up for release, one of them his own production, and Rs 50-60 crore riding on his endorsement deals, the future looks murky for Khan. He has the option of appealing afresh in the Rajasthan High Court. Otherwise, he faces at least four years in jail.

Khan’s projects include Bajrangi Bhaijan, co-starring Kareena Kapoor Khan and Nawazzundin Siddiqui, which is the first film under the actor’s own production banner Salman Khan Films. Since Khan is the producer on the movie, he stands to lose money on his banner’s maiden project. Film studio Eros International is the distributor partner on the project.

“The risk is more to Salman’s banner and his investors than Eros in this case. Usually, in these deals, the distribution partner comes in the picture once the film is made and is ready to be marketed and distributed. Bajrangi Bhaijan is in the third schedule of its shoot, so currently Eros has little to lose. Had this happened after the film was made, it might have affected the film’s promotions and hence box office performance, but no one can say for sure,” says an industry source.

Both Salman’s team and Eros were unavailable for comment on the matter.

His second project this year, Prem Ratan Dhan Paayo, too will be affected. The film marks the return of Khan to the Rajshri banner, with which he has given hits like Maine Pyaar Kiya, Hum Aapke Hain Koun! and Hum Saath Saath Hain.

Directed by Sooraj Barjatiya, the film’s distribution partner is Vijay Singh-led Fox Star Studios. Here too, the risk exposure of Barjatiya (who owns and runs Rajshri) is greater than that of the partner studio.

“While they might not pay Khan till the movie is released or at least finishes shooting, they have already spent on the pre-production and if Khan has to be in jail, then there is a chance that the investment till now gets stuck,” adds a trade analyst. Both the movies are mounted at a scale of Rs 100-115 crore each.

On the endorsement front, there is much more at risk for the actor. Most of the deals signed by him are multi-year deals at an average of Rs 9 to Rs 10 crore a year. Depending on the terms of each contract, the actor might lose a year’s payment, or the brand might end up spending money and have no Khan to shoot ads and/or attend events. “Since these deals are highly confidential, one might never know who lost how much,” says the analyst.

With inputs from PTI

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