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India’s ‘Dunki’ Passes Final Global Box Office Milestone


The Big Picture

  • Shah Rukh Khan made a triumphant comeback with three blockbuster hits, including Dunki, earning a record-breaking $323 million at the box office in 2023.
  • Dunki, a comedy-drama about illegal immigration, generated $55 million globally, with $26 million coming from India. It received mixed reviews but emerged as SRK’s third-biggest hit.
  • While SRK is mainly known as a Hindi-language star, the success of crossover films like Baahubali has allowed for wider releases, contributing to the success of films like Dunki.

Bollywood icon Shah Rukh Khan made a comeback to end all comebacks in 2023, delivering three of the biggest box office hits of his storied three-decade career. SRK, as he is affectionately known to his legions of fans across the globe, when they aren’t calling him the “Badshaah” or “King Khan,” returned to the big screen after a nearly five-year gap in 2023. And the last of his hat-trick of hits, Dunki, passed (most likely) its final box office milestone on Friday.

A comedy-drama about illegal immigration, Dunki has now been playing in theaters worldwide for three weeks. The movie has since generated $55 million (₹455 crore) worldwide, of which over $26 million has come from its home country, India. By comparison, SRK’s two previous 2023 blockbusters, the action-thrillers Pathaan and Jawan, each grossed over $130 million globally. The superstar’s total box office revenue for 2023 stands at a record-breaking $323 million, which is the sort of storybook ending to a decade of setbacks that would seem unbelievable even in some of SRK’s own escapist films.

Unlike Pathaan and Jawan, however, Dunki opened to mixed reviews around Christmastime. The movie currently sits at a “rotten” 53% score on the aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, as compared to the 84% and 88% approval ratings earned by Pathaan and Jawan, respectively. Despite the muted response and negligible footprint in the south of India, Dunki has emerged as the third-biggest hit of SRK’s career.

Shah Rukh Khan Regained His Crown as the “King” of Bollywood

India is divided into several local film industries on the basis of language and region. While Pathaan and Jawan can comfortably be described as crossover hits that were dubbed in multiple local Indian languages, Dunki received only a Hindi-language release. SRK, despite his global fame, is mainly viewed as a Hindi-language (or Bollywood) star. It was only after the success of RRR director S.S. Rajamouli’s epic Baahubali blockbusters that distributors began releasing films with potential crossover appeal in all corners of the country.

Last year was not only a meaningful one for SRK, but for Indian cinema as a whole. The controversial action epic Animal became the third Indian film of 2023 to pass the $100 million mark globally, while the Telugu-language hit Salaar: Part 1 — Ceasefire grossed around $85 million worldwide. Two Tamil-language films — Leo, starring Vijay, and Jailer, starring Rajinikanth — also served as among the biggest hits of their respective stars’ careers. SRK currently doesn’t have another project lined up, although he’s reportedly set to appear in a supporting role in director Sujoy Ghosh’s new film, which will star his daughter, Suhana Khan, who recently made her acting debut with The Archies. You can watch the Dunki trailer here, and stay tuned to Collider for more updates.

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