Mumbai (AFP) – Bollywood bad boy Salman Khan’s first movie since his conviction for shooting dead endangered wildlife opened across India Friday, with analysts predicting box office success for his latest Eid blockbuster.
It has become a tradition in the Hindi film industry for Khan, one of the world’s highest-paid actors, to star in the big release on the Muslim holiday of Eid to mark the end of Ramadan, which begins on Saturday in India.
Action movie “Race 3” is Khan’s fifth straight Eid release and his eighth since 2010.
It is also his first film since he was handed a five-year jail sentence in April for shooting dead two rare antelopes known as black bucks during a 1998 hunting trip.
The 52-year-old, who has repeatedly denied killing the animals, spent two days behind bars before being granted bail.
The bodybuilding actor suffered a rare commercial failure last Eid when “Tubelight”, a drama set during the 1962 India-China war, flopped at the box office but analysts expect “Race 3” to soar.
“It’s Salman Khan, it’s Eid weekend and it’s an action franchise that plays to the galleries and has always been successful. I expect it to make great money,” film distributor Akshaye Rathi told AFP.
Rathi tipped the movie, which also stars Anil Kapoor and Bobby Deol, to make one billion rupees ($14.72 million) during its opening weekend, the benchmark for a surefire blockbuster.
Khan enjoys a cult-like status in star-obsessed India and is one of Bollywood’s biggest draws, despite a host of controversies.
He was found guilty of culpable homicide for a 2002 hit-and-run which killed a homeless man sleeping on the pavement in Mumbai, and was sentenced to five years in prison.
But the verdict was overturned by a higher court in 2015. His acquittal is being challenged in the Supreme Court.
Khan was last seen in “Tiger Zinda Hai” (Tiger Is Alive), released in December.
His 2015 Eid release, “Bajrangi Bhaijaan”, sits third in the all-time list of highest-grossing Hindi language films worldwide, two places ahead of his 2016 Eid offering “Sultan”.