Saif Ali Khan Hits and Flops: Career Analysis

Saif Ali Khan has been in the film industry for over two decades now. Even though the actor won his Filmfare Best Debutant Award for Aashiq Awara (1993), he made his debut with a supporting role in Yash Chopra’s directorial Parampara (1992), which had Aamir Khan, Sunil Dutt and Vinod Khanna in the lead. It’s quite ironical that in spite of being in the business for such a long time, most of the initial success that he achieved in his career came from films where he played second lead.

Saif Ali Khan Hits and Flops

Saif Ali Khan Hits and Flops

The table below captures the most prominent successes in Saif Ali Khan’s career as a parallel lead.

Film Net BO Collection | Verdict Main Lead Comments
Main Khiladi Tu Anari (1994) 6.5cr | SEMI HIT Akshay Kumar First Commercial Success of Saif’s career
Nominated Filmfare for Best Supporting Actor
Hum Saath-Saath Hain (1999) 28cr | HIT Salman Khan Biggest Hit of the year
Kachche Dhaage (1999) 11cr | ABOVE AVERAGE Ajay Devgn Nominated Filmfare for Best Supporting Actor
Dil Chahta Hai (2001) 16cr | AVERAGE Aamir Khan Filmfare Award for Best Comic Role
Kal Ho Na Ho (2003) 35cr | HIT Shahrukh Khan Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actor


Superlative Success as Solo/Main Lead

Dil Chahta Hai and Kal Ho Naa Ho are considered as turning points in Saif’s career because post the success and accolades received by these films, he started giving hits on his own. His first major victory came with Hum Tum in 2004 which also laid the foundation of a strong partnership between Saif and Aditya Chopra (YRF). Together they gave two more successes in Salaam Namaste (2005) and Ta Ra Rum Pum (2007).

But, it was Race (2008) which did wonders for Saif as he managed to enter Top 5 for the first time as a main lead. 2008 was a year when all superstars had major releases, still Saif starrer Race managed to grab the 4th spot (BEHIND — Aamir [Ghajini]; Shahrukh [RNBDJ]; Akshay [Singh Is Kingg] / AHEAD OF — Hrithik [Jodhaa Akbar]; Ajay [Golmaal Returns]; Ranbir [Bachna Ae Hasino]; Emraan [Jannat]; Salman [Yuvraaj] ). Saif’s winning streak didn’t stop here as he gave the biggest hit of his career in Love Aaj Kal (2009) and seized the 3rd position for the year. Love Aaj Kal also happens to be his first production venture under the Illuminati Films banner.

During this fantastic phase in his career, Saif also delivered some dominant performances which won critical acclaim: Ek Hasina Thi (2004), Parineeta (2005) : Nominated Filmfare Award for Best Actor, Being Cyrus (2006) and Omkara (2006) : Filmfare Award for Best Performance in a Negative Role. Special mention for his Langda Tyagi act in Omkara – one of the best negative performance of the decade and by far the actor’s best.

Table below showcases Major Hits of Saif Ali Khan as Lead Actor:

Film Net BO Collection | Verdict Comments
Hum Tum (2004) 21cr | HIT National Film Award for Best Actor
Filmfare Award for Best Comic Role
Salaam Namaste (2005) 26cr | SEMI HIT
Ta Ra Rum Pum (2007) 35cr | SEMI HIT
Race (2008) 62cr | HIT Fourth Biggest Grosser of the year
Love Aaj Kal (2009) 67cr | SUPER HIT Biggest Success of Saif till date
Third Biggest Grosser of the year
Nominated Filmfare Award for Best Actor
Nominated Filmfare Award for Best Movie
Cocktail (2012) 75cr | HIT


Unfortunately Saif could not hold on to this exceptional splash as he has never come close to the TOP 5 since Love Aaj Kal. Major Reasons: (1) Neither has he been able to maintain his good Success Rate, like the Khan Trio/Hrithik, nor has he been able to increase the number of releases per year by capitalizing on mass following like Akshay. (2) Most of his major successes cater to urban/young viewers only. Now, to increase his fan-following, Saif must opt for scripts which have larger target audience.

Why Race 2 is crucial for Saif?

The Top 6 positions in Bollywood are already occupied by Big Guns (Salman, SRK, Aamir, Akshay, Hrithik and Ajay juggle themselves for Rank 1 to 6) and there is cut throat competition for the next few spots. Over the last couple of years, next generation stars like Ranbir Kapoor and Emraan Hashmi have given Saif a run for his money to consolidate their position at the 7th spot.

As things stand today, it is Ranbir Kapoor (Highest Grosser: Barfi! – 106cr), Saif Ali Khan (Highest Grosser: Cocktail – 75cr) and Emraan Hashmi (Highest Grosser: Raaz 3 – 67cr) in that order on 7th, 8th and 9th positions respectively.

With action and sequels being the flavor of the season, Race 2 has everything in its favor. Moreover, Pritam’s Hit music has only strengthened the box office perspectives of this Abbas-Mastan’s thriller.

Challenges/Targets for Race 2:- (1) Saif Ali Khan’s Entry into the 100 crore club (2) Beat the 106 crore mark of Barfi!

Something to comment on..

  • Do you think Saif Ali Khan is under-rated as an actor, because he couldn’t achieve the kind of success the other Khan’s could?
  • It took Saif more than 12 years to deliver a solo-hit. What do you think is the reason, since he is widely considered to be a good actor..?
  • What kind of films would you want to see Saif Ali Khan in? Should he opt for commercial multiplex films like Cocktail, try the action/masala genre like Ajay and Salman or work with directors like Vishal Bhardwaj who gave him Omkara?

Tell us in the comments section below!

Article by Archit Mishra (tweets @architmishra_06)



  • Saif is extremely underrated as an actor. According to me, he is one of the best performers in the country! Don’t really know why he was unable to deliver a solo hit for so long!

    I think Saif suits action thrillers and romantic comedies the best!

    @Indicine/Archit, if Ranbir, Saif & Emraan take 7, 8 & 9th spots respectively, who is at the 10th spot?

  • Saif had all the talent in the world to make it big. But I feel although he is a fantastic actor, he lacks desi appeal. You can’t imagine Saif dancing around trees, punching 100 baddies.. you also can’t imagine him wooing a girl. He comes across as too sophisticated, polished.. a nawab! That’s one of the reason why he got reduced to side characters.

  • Saif is not a quintessential Bollywood hero.. But Ajay Devgan and Shahrukh Khan weren’t either. Not many know that DDLJ was first offered to Saif. He rejected the film! It was a blessing in disguise because now I can’t even imagine DDLJ minus SRK. He was the soul of the film.

    But if Saif had accepted the film.. it could have been a turning point in his career.

    His script sense let him down throughout the 90s.. His first solo hit was Hum Tum and all thanks to his mother (censor board chief back then).. Saif won a national award.

  • You call this a career analysis, but haven’t mentioned anything about the number of films that he has done. A short summary of his total solo films and success ratio would have been nice. Can you throw some light on that?

    Does he have only 6 solo hits in his entire career??

  • I Love u Saif. He is the most handsome & Hit actor. I love Love Aaj Kal & Cocktail. He should do more these films

  • Saif must explore some masala films also to widen his fans. Although he looks best in posh films like cocktail.
    Before this, I wasn’t aware that Saif has only 10-12 Hit films in his entire career. Thanks Archit for the data.

  • U forgot to mention about some of his greatest movies like OMKARA, PARINEETA & BEING CYRUS.
    In all these movies, his performance was superb.

    and i agree wid u that Saif was once in top 5 during 2004-2009, infact he was ahead of Salman & Ajay, but couldn’t capitalize. After 2009,he tried to do something different wid Agent Vinod (which took 2 years of his life) but failed.
    but still as an actor, he’s very good, better than a few so called “BIG STARS”.

  • in my opinion, acting comes natural to him!!!……no wonder, one of d most under-rated actors ever!!!……with all due respect 2 oders, i think his best performance was in HSSH!!!……..just look at his portrayal of “happy-go-lucky” kid brother in dat movie n u will get in awe of him!!!!!!

  • Saif is great! He is the best in romantic comedy and thrillers.. I think he should sport a beard look permanently.. it suits him well.
    Luvv u saif

  • He’s one of the best actors in the country and in my opinion a superior actor tosomeone like Shahrukh. The day Srk does an Omkara, Ek Hasina Thi, Being Cyrus, Hum Tum, Parineeta and Race all within four years, only then will I concede. I think he’s fantastic but hindi cinema doesn’t appreviate true talent.
    Also his pairing with Rani Mukerji in Hum Tum, TRRP, TPTM is one of the most beautifully perfect in Hindi cinema.

  • I personally believe that saif shud do rom coms bcoz dey havent let him down in da past. Action doesn’t suit him much unless he is wiv akshay. I liked their combo in da past despite the box office or critics reaction

  • I don’t think he is a good actor… He has to improve much more but he is more close to the end than the beginning of his career, so it’s too late now…

  • yes only 3 hits and 1 superhit in solo!! no wonder he’s never been a superstar…and nor will be. if dil chahta hai was not made, Saif would have vanished from the industry!!!!!! and indicine..please correct the data…salaam namaste and tara rum pum were flops!!!

  • tara rum pum was not a hit but a flop. That film started rani’s downslide also which continued with laaga chunari mein daag, thoda pyaar thoda magic and dil bole hadippa

  • Saif is best In romantic comédies. Hé was good In Parineeta and Omkara. Hé does best with a support Cast around him. Go Goa Gone was a mistake. Very poor choice. Hé was good pared with Priety. His height oppositeformer models who tower over him a problem. Kareena and Saif do not have on screen chemistry. Script choice and poor casting of him in roles are a problem. He is just a better support actor. Nothing wrong with that. He should do more roles as his visibility is low. His connection with the audience is weak. He does better reacting to the performance of a stronger lead actor or actress.

  • whenever saif has experimented a bit backed by a good script hes done wonders his success rate in that respect is better than most actors like salman,srk and like ajay devgan which also means hes a good actor.u forgot omkara seriously it was a hit.


  • he is a good actor but because of sajid khans stupid movie humshakals ruined saifs career so dont blame saif blame sajid hes the worst director

  • He is the best actor.
    He’s my favorite actor.
    The best actor in film industry.
    It luv all his movies.
    But doing humshakals was not his mistake but of the director SAJID KHAN.
    His happy_ending was a great movie.
    But it don’t understand why do only some people go to watch his movies.
    He is one of the best actors in the film industry.
    He does more sensible movies other than so called superstars. But accept humshakals.

  • Saif Ali Khan Is a flop actor of the bollywood. He never been successful actor since he started to act in the bollywood. 85% of his movies are flopped, 10% of his movies are average and 5% of his movies are semi hits or hits. The movies which got hits, other actors were in leading roles. Salman khan, Amir Khan, sharuk Khan and Akshay kumar were in leading roles. He never any Single hit movie in leading role. Saif Ali Khan was a flop, is a flop and will be flop actor of the bollywood.
    He should have to retire of acting in the bollywood. He is not a asset of the bollywood. He is expense of the bollywood.

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