It's Content Over Big-Ticket And Big-Budget Bollywood Films This Year End!
In Bollywood, some Fridays are more equal than others; these are the dates most wanted by producers. The Fridays in November and December are in that category, usually snatched up by big-ticket films starring A-listers. However, 2017 has bucked the trend, as star power has given way to the content power of smaller and mid-sized ventures — films such as Ribbon, Shaadi Mein Zaroor Aana, Kadvi Hawa, Tumhari Sulu, Firangi, Qarib Qarib Singlle, Ajji, Fukrey Returns, Monsoon Shootout, and Brij Mohan Amar Rahe are either out or will be soon, and some have already been to festivals.
Director Amit Kumar, whose film Monsoon Shootout was screened at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, feels that indie filmmakers have brought about this change in a big way. “Now that our audiences have tasted blood and realised what they’ve been missing out on, the hunger for such movies has increased exponentially. It’s a great environment for filmmakers, as it allows them to explore original subjects without worrying about what or who has worked in the past,” he says.
Many years in the past decade have witnessed at least one Aamir Khan film releasing during the November-December season, but this year, Aamir is absent from the calendar. Instead, it is Salman Khan’s action thriller, Tiger Zinda Hai, that’s the big Christmas weekend release. Also, with Sanjay Leenal Bhansali’s Padmavati getting delayed because of a controversy over historical facts, smaller films have got their share of the limelight.
Film critic Omar Qureshi points out, “The way some of the big ones laid eggs at the box office, Bollywood probably missed a beat. Dates and blocks are all very well when the movies have matter to trumpet. That’s why some of our intelligent makers have taken [a] pause. Hence, there are no real big guns firing at the turnstiles this November. December still has the Salman blockbuster Tiger Zinda Hai. But what happened to Padmavati is a bummer. Hopefully, next year [will be] chock-a-block with big movies.”
2007: Om Shanti Om; Saawariya; Taare Zameen Par
2008: Dostana; Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi; Ghajini
2009: Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani; Kurbaan; Paa; 3 Idiots
2010: Golmaal 3; Guzaarish; Band Baaja Baaraat
2011: Rockstar; Desi Boyz; The Dirty Picture; Don 2
2012: Jab Tak Hai Jaan; Son of Sardar; Khiladi 786; Dabangg 2
2013: Krrish 3; Goliyon Ki Raasleela – Ram-Leela; R…Rajkumar; Dhoom 3
2014: The Shaukeens; Kill Dil; PK; Action Jackson
2015: Prem Ratan Dhan Payo; Tamasha; Bajirao Mastani; Dilwale
2016: Rock On 2; Dear Zindagi; Befikre; Dangal
Even actors welcome this shift in audience sensibilities, calling it a “refreshing change”. Ali Fazal, who stars in Fukrey Returns, says that it’s the viewers who now want good cinema and, hence, good films with smaller budgets are getting the vote of confidence. “It’s inevitable. Eventually, there won’t be seasons. I feel we still have a long way to [go], but it’s nice to see Fukrey Returns out there with Tiger Zinda Hai just a little ahead in the same month,” he says.
‘The movie business is unpredictable. This year has been a testimony to that. Interesting films have managed to hold their own at the box office, which is why so many smaller films are now releasing in the second half’ — Richa Chadha, actor
His Fukrey Returns co-star, Richa Chadha, adds, “The movie business is unpredictable. This year has been a testimony to that. Interesting films have managed to hold their own at the box office, which is why so many smaller films are now releasing in the second half!”
When it comes to getting a release date at the box office, producer Guneet Monga asserts that content, and not the budget of a film, should be the deciding factor. “Films, regardless of their budget, should be able to release [on dates] they deem best fit [for] the content. We are breaking away from norms in more ways than one — be it bigger actors backing content-driven cinema or independent films finding a substantial audience in India,” she states.