“Today success is all about money. Success is measured by money, valued by money. No matter what form of Art it is, if gets a good price or sums up fair enough money, then its success.” – Rajkumar Hirani, Filmmaker (3 Idiots fame)
I was always wondering and it made me think again and again, but I don’t exactly remember since when I heard it on TV, ‘box-office collections’ (BOC). This particular word, has been very much annoying at times for me. It gets me on my nerves, when someone keeps hitting this, people use as much as adjectives to describe the ‘BOC’. In the current scenario, cinema has a commercial value and it has been bound to be so. If you ask, I would say, today, we need money to make a film, but not the film to make some huge money. It’s a taboo! I had heard this in one of his interviews, from one of the most inspiring filmmaker Anurag Kashyap “Why do we need the pressure of breaking the box-office records?” Exactly, that’s what my point is as well.
Let me start from the scratch then, I did spend quite amount of time to study about the history of BOCs. I always keep saying this, I would like to call it as Indian Cinema or Indian Film Industry, not as ‘Bollywood’ or so. May be religiously or donno how it was named so. Anyways, the success journey of the films in Hindi began long long ago. Gyan Mukherjee’s ‘Kismet’ (1943) was the first hindi film to make a huge collection of Rs 1 crore for the first time. Then Raj Kapoor’s ‘Shree 420‘ (1955) was the next hindi film to make Rs 2 crores. This was an initial spark which eventually, slowly took time to spread, with all-time blockbuster films like Mother India (1957) first Indian film to get nominated for Academy award for Best Foreign language film, followed by Mughal-e-Azam (1960), Sholay (1975) the first film in the history of Indian cinema to celebrate a silver jubilee (25 consecutive weeks) at over a hundred theaters across India, which actually tripled the amount of collections and crossed the make of the previous record holder Mughal-e-Azam. But then came Barjatya’s Hum Aapke Hain Koun..! (1994), which literally did business four times that of Sholay! It is also the first film in the history on Indian cinema to earn Rs 135 crores worldwide. YRF’s Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995), the unbeatable, still the longest running cinema, till date (2012) broke all the collections, records at that time. Baap re!
The evolution of box-office collection started in the early ’90s if am not wrong. But at the early stages of cinema, where they say, the Golden Era of Indian Films, ’50s, ’60s, ’70’s, the success of a film was determined by box office longevity than revenue. But then since technology started evolving, new media wave started, with all these things, the long running of films gradually got decreased with its pace, since then within the short running duration of the film, the idea of business got its birth, ‘revenue’ was in focus.
Clearly, today can say, Bollywood is obsessed with the 100 Cr club. It’s the record breaking time. Even the media, has given so much of hype about it, treating it as the magical number. It’s so amusing. Now most films depend only on first weekend / first week revenue, it decides the fate of a film, a trend that has received widespread criticism from industry experts. Even we are used to it, everybody, a famous newspaper rates it, people decide to watch the film or not, based upon the stars, is it only that ‘2 or 3 or 4.5’ stars enough to judge the whole film, when they have spilled their sweat and money like blood! Am not saying, to go and watch every film. But at least ask yourself, without those reviews, go and give a try, there are lot of good films being made, not only in hindi, but also in Kannada, Tamil, Malayalam, Marathi etc. Today media is very hungry about these numbers or collections. There are lots film critics, trade analysts who keep waiting for Friday. They are very keen of announcing, Opening day, opening weekend, highest collection at some center, opening week collection, the list goes on. I have read interviews in which producers/directors express, “In today’s such a competitive scene, Who cares for critics? We pay zero attention to reviews and reviewers… we only look at the box office returns.”
Komal Nahta, trade expert says, “A film’s success does depend on the star cast and the box office collections but the story as well as the entire narration is equally important to sustain the audience attention.” If the story and the direction are not catchy, the collections do drop after initial days and the film suffers despite of being a collection of a hit star cast combo, he observed. He sums the sentiment, “There is no such formula for a 100 crore business but it all depends on the story-line, the performances by the actors and the audience choice.”
This 100 Cr club is a clean trap for a filmmaker. Once his films make so much of business, automatically he is pressurized from somewhere, to make it again. But from the creative angle, a writer can’t write a 100 Crore script. Me being a writer, I can write a scene which I want to and make a film from my heart. It’s difficult to think in numbers and write the script. Being on the creative side, it’s always so much of noise with regarding to business. Again when looked back, it was A.R Murugadoss’s ‘Ghajini’ (2008), the first film in Indian history to earn 100 crore at the box office only in India. This was the turning point for the hindi film industry, since then multiple films have started this race, though few passionate filmmakers don’t make films for that lucky number 100 Cr. But till date the highest collections ever made is by Rajkumar Hirani’s ‘3 Idiots’ (2009) (203 Cr. approx) the population of India in that year was approx. 117 Cr. Look at the collection, it’s almost double the population. More over, we can make a simple analysis, can ask like this, how much percentage of Indian population watched 3 Idiots to make such huge collections? Obviously, whole of the country wouldn’t have watched it. So how has it made so much? It can be by the ‘multiplex boom’. This trend intensified in our country, with high ticket prices and increasing number of screens, a weekend or 2-3 weeks is enough to reach such figures. It’s quite amazing, when we magnify at such particulars!
Another shocking fact, YRFs ‘Ek tha Tiger’ (2012), made 186 Cr in just 5 days!!! And Salman Khan is the only actor with most number of his films which have joined the so called ‘100 Cr Club’
“I am not a classic filmmaker, I am a commercial filmmaker. I want to entertain people. I don’t want to make classics” – Rohit Shetty, Filmmaker ( Golmaal 1,2 &3, fame)
“I don’t know about making Rs 100 crore. But I feel it is more difficult to touch people’s heart. From my film, I only want to touch hundreds or thousands of hearts and that’s all that matters to me. Collection is not important for me,” says Anurag Basu, Filmmaker (Life in a metro, Kites, Barfi etc., fame)
Indian cinema, despite all its peculiarities, has been a reflection of the socio-economic, political and cultural changes that took place in the country. In recent years, Hindi cinema has undergone a massive change due to the emergence of new age filmmakers like Anurag Kashyap, Rajkumar Hirani, Imtiaz ali, Dibakar Banerjee and Vishal Bhardwaj. Of late, Kannada, Tamil, Malayalam and Marathi cinema has witnessed similar changes with several new filmmakers coming forth to cater to a niche audience. So hoping that Indian movies continue to entertain us the way they have been doing since 10 decades.