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Why 'Dangal' Star Aamir Khan Is The New King Of Bollywood

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He has repeatedly given a shot of adrenaline to Bollywood’s heart. Now, Aamir Khan is raising his glass to Dangal (Wrestling Competition) for becoming the highest-earning Bollywood film in history. Released just a month ago, this wrestling biopic has grossed over $55 million. 
The actor took to Twitter to share his happiness. “I am absolutely overwhelmed with all the love that Dangal has got. It is one of the most passionate responses I have ever received. I want to thank everyone for owning the film as their own,” Khan said.

Winning the Filmfare Award, regarded as the “Bollywood Oscars”, for his leading role in Dangal was the icing on the cake.

Over the past decades, his films, praised for its quality content, have invariably reaped more gold than Shah Rukh Khan — known as King Khan — at the box office. Even Imdb votes Aamir as the ruler of Bollywood based on the success of his movies.
 Now, with the extraordinary success of Dangal and PK in 2014, which grossed over $50 million, Aamir has wrestled his way to rightfully claim the title of King of Bollywood. His Dhoom 3, a blockbuster franchise released in 2013, was a super hit as well.

Undoubtedly, Aamir has changed the equation when it comes to box office numbers. The 51-year-old actor has proved, time and again, he’s a bigger star than Shah Rukh, and the most bankable.

Shah Rukh has reigned supreme in Bollywood since Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, released in 1995, became an enormous hit. Having acted in more than 80 Hindi films, half the world’s population know who he is. But unlike, Aamir, who neither attends Bollywood award functions nor performs song-and-dance routines on stage, Shah Rukh’s a darling of award shows. His concerts, where he performs on Bollywood songs, sell out fast in the U.S., U.K and Middle East.

Charisma, of which he has tons, got him so far. But his recent films sank, and didn’t fetch the expected numbers at the box office. Last year, although Shah Rukh was appreciated for the different choices he made as an actor, his total box office collections of Dear Zindagi, which also starred Bollywood sweetheart Alia Bhatt, and Fan generated less than $25 million. His last super hit was Chennai Express in 2013. However, there’s a good chance that Shah Rukh’s upcoming film Raees, releasing on January 25, will experience something worth toasting at the box office.

Bollywood actor Aamir Khan in Dangal, a film which grossed over $55 million in a month. (Photo courtesy Disney India)
Bollywood actor Aamir Khan in Dangal, a film which grossed over $55 million in a month. (Photo courtesy Disney India)

On the other hand, Aamir has consistently delivered critically-acclaimed films, lighting up cash registers. Arguably, one of the best in the storytelling business, Aamir takes a story and then completely molds it into his own, with generous amount of wit and charm. In many ways, he changed the face of Bollywood formulaic cinema.

Made at a cost a $13.5 million, Dangal, the biopic of former wrestling champion Mahavir Singh Phogat and his daughters, world-class wrestlers Geeta Phogat and Babita Kumari, looks at the deeply entrenched ideas about gender roles in India. The film, directed by Nitesh Tiwari and co-produced by Aamir, was set in the northern Indian state of Haryana, where the sex ratio of newborns skews heavily toward boys.

In 2009, Aamir’s movie 3 Idiots, a satire on the Indian education system, became the first Bollywood movie to surpass the 2 billion rupees pinnacle. Earlier in 2001, his film Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India, a story of an Indian village that takes on the British Raj in a game of cricket to avoid taxes, apart from earning millions, earned an Academy Award nomination for best foreign language film.