Mad masc on fury road: Bollywood's riding on rage machines - Hindustan Times

Mad masc on fury road: Bollywood's riding on rage machines

Dec 29, 2023 04:57 PM IST

The year of Bollywood’s resurgence coincided with the rise of the angry strongman. We decode the trend

What ties together the world of Pathaan, Jawan, Gadar 2 and Animal? Well, they might be set in different spheres, but the presence of alpha males strings them together in one thread. And that was the trend which made it big in Bollywood as well as the box office.

Shah Rukh Khan had a great year on the box office, which started with Pathaan
Shah Rukh Khan had a great year on the box office, which started with Pathaan

The year 2023 witnessed a remarkable surge in the prominence of alpha males, reshaping the industry’s narrative and captivating audiences with their charismatic presence while raking moolah at the box office.

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If there was a Pathaan, essayed by Shah Rukh Khan, out there to foil a terrorist threat, there was also a Tiger, played by Salman Khan, going on a threatening crusade to clear his and his family’s name. Not to forget the vengeful mission of Jawan, or the intense fight sequences in Gadar 2 featuring actor Sunny Deol.

“This year proved that audiences are enjoying hyper masculinity, from the presence of alpha male characters to the main leads being aggressive. A lot of action, blood and larger than life -- these are some things which people enjoyed seeing on the big screen. In fact, Prabhas’ Salaar also fell in the same category. We see this trend going big in 2024 with Pushpa 2 and other similar movies ready for release,” says trade expert and producer Girish Johar.

When it comes to numbers, this year, Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Jawan made a total of 640.8 crore in its domestic net collections and 1,152 crore in terms of its worldwide gross collections. Pathaan raked in over 543 crore in its net domestic box office collections and grossed over 1,050 crore worldwide. Salman Khan’s Tiger 3 made around 284 crore in India and 466 crore worldwide. Sunny Deol’s Gadar 2 minted over 525 crore at the India box office and over 687 crore at the worldwide box office. Talking about, Ranbir Kapoor’s Animal has made over 500 crore in domestic box office collection and over 836 crore worldwide so far, with the business expected to grow further in the coming days. .

Talking about the trend, producer Ramesh Taurani says, “The presence of alpha males has always been the case in Bollywood, and it was proved once again this year. 2023 was about the return of alpha males. India has always been a hero worship place, and this year, it reflected in the box office success of all such films”.

To this, trade expert Atul Mohan adds, “We can call 2023 a resurgence of alpha males. In fact, it showed that audiences still like to watch such content. There was a phase where people were leaning towards the boy next door image, but the audience wanted to watch larger than life heroes and action on the big screen. Cinema was and will always be larger than life”.

With audiences embracing these captivating figures, the rise of the Alpha male in Bollywood stands as a testament to the industry’s evolution and its commitment to telling more compelling stories. However, it comes with some concerns.

“It sets back the process that was on for years which was to normalise this business of recognising equality and respect for women. The second thing is that we are creating new stereotypes especially as these offerings have become superhits. It is creating a formula. Another thing is that it is likely to encourage certain behaviours in young boys, and the young girls to be treated in a similar way. The last one which I think is the most dangerous, and it is that the girls might think that the behaviour by such boys is normal. It is manufactured misogyny. Can it be controlled? It depends on the audiences,” ends Dilip Cherian, Image Guru.

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    Delhi-based Sugandha Rawal is a movie buff, and writes on Bollywood, Hollywood, Television, OTT and Music for the daily entertainment and lifestyle supplement, HT City.

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