Another week, another film comes and goes. Yes, I wrote that in the most unenthusiastic way possible....but what else can one do?
This week saw the release of Commando 2. A sequel to a film that released four years ago, with a newcomer at the time, and the film received a Below Average verdict. The question then is, who's idea was it to make a sequel? I mean, that's bad enough, but then you also have the fact that they decided to randomly include a remake of a 10-year-old hit song from Akshay Kumar's film Bhool Bhulaiyaa, with the song Hare Ram Hare Krishna.
What exactly is the connection between the two films, Commando 2 and Bhool Bhulaiyaa?? Why does that film's song randomly need to be remade into a newer version for this specific film, Commando 2? Neither is the main lead the same, neither is the director the same, neither is there any sort of franchise. What's the connection? Well....your guess is as good as mine!
It was for these reasons that I couldn't muster the energy or courage to write my box office prediction for Commando 2. Oh, an Arbaaz Khan film released as well, named Jeena Isi Ka Naam Hai, which even somehow managed a release overseas....the less said, the better!
Seriously, it almost appears as if Bollywood filmmakers are on a suicide mission. Constantly re-hashing old songs is just an example of their lack of originality, their laziness, and most importantly, their lack of knowledge as to what really works with the Indian audience.
Vishal Bhardwaj making a film with Saif, Shahid, and Kangana sounds completely okay on paper. Until you start to ruin it. I stated clearly in my prediction article that the fact that the film is a love story more than anything else was going to be the biggest problem for this film. With a backdrop of World War II, the makers had an opportunity to create something new and exciting to be witnessed on-screen. An epic sort of war film. Without even seeing the film, I have gained an understanding that what was delivered instead was just another average, routine love story.
In my prediction post last week before the release of the film, when I wrote that Rangoon would finish with lifetime collection of 30 crore net and would have a "Disaster" box office verdict, no one would seem to believe me. As a matter of fact, I had to read some insults towards me. Reality is a different ballgame though altogether, something that the distributors Viacom 18 had to realize too.
The collections of the film are absolutely pathetic, no doubt, but what had me really rub my eyes in disbelief was when I read the amount that Viacom 18 invested to buy this film.....67 crore. In a time and age when films are collecting over 300 crore net at the box office, sure, 67 crore may not seem like a whole lot. But this isn't a Khan film we are talking about. We're talking about a niche, dark film, with a director who never scores big at the box office, actors who have very inconsistent hit/flop record (Saif, Shahid, Kangana), and a February, non-holiday release period. From a film's net box office collections, approximately half of the collection goes to the distributors. Sure, the overseas audience is generally more friendly towards this type of film, but the collections are poor overseas for this film. Let's not even get
From a film's net box office collections, approximately half of the collection goes to the distributors. Sure, the overseas audience is generally more friendly towards this type of film, but the collections are poor overseas for this film. Let's not even get to domestic collections....what were the distributors Viacom18 expecting the film to collect in India, that they decided to invest a huge 67 crore amount??
The effect on the actors will be devastating. Shahid Kapoor has hardly had a box office run ever, and things are just getting worse. His next film, Padmavati, does have support from SLB/Ranveer/Deepika, but the makers and Viacom18 are once again making a very foolish mistake. The film is said to be one of the most expensive films ever from a budget point of view, and the fact that the film is being released in a non-holiday November period is a travesty.
Kangana Ranaut will still get offers, but any sort of imagination of her being a big star comes to an end. Tanu Weds Manu Returns opened very well for the small stature of the film, and she can get credit for that and the fact that the film touched the 150 crore net mark in India, but then she's had a bunch of flops before and after that film. Even Queen started off with a very poor 1 crore opening!
Saif Ali Khan, unfortunately, is in complete done-and-dusted, pack-up mode. The problem here is this: Saif Ali Khan as a solo star excelled and clicked with the audience in two types of films: in urban rom-coms (Hum Tum, Salaam Namaste, Love Aaj Kal, etc) and the Race series. With the former, he is now too old to play those roles. In his last urban rom-com box office Hit Cocktail, many felt that Deepika was the film's showstealer, whereas Saif appeared too old for his role. Saif could still continue the Race series of films as he could still pull that role off, but there have been hot rumors lately of Salman Khan joining the series, likely replacing Saif. Saif does have a film next titled Chef, with the director of Airlift, but the title of the film itself doesn't seem like it would hold much appeal for the audience around India.
As for Vishal Bhardwaj, no distributor will ever invest huge money in his film....AGAIN. He needs to stick to small-budget films to appeal to his very, very, niche audience in India.
Footfalls will increase when filmmakers realize more what needs to be made. Directors such as Aditya Chopra and Karan Johar are amongst the biggest names due to their series of huge blockbuster films (DDLJ, KKHH, Mohabattein, K3G) and the two directors are still relevant today in a big way. It can be seen by the fact that their name as a director adds huge value to a film, enabling a double-digit opening for the film. With that being said, they should be the ones in charge of pushing the envelope and creating big budget, newer cinema instead of sticking to just urban rom-coms. They need to be the ones creating films with new concepts. If these big directors are unable to push the envelope, how are the others going to? To Karan Johar's credit, he did direct an excellent film with a newer/different story in the form of My Name is Khan, which perhaps the Indian audience wasn't ready for at that time. With that being said, he needs to make another type of film like that, and this time, with more appeal for the audience in smaller centres. Risks need to be taken to encourage the Indian audience to watch different type of cinema with newer concepts.
Karan Johar in particular has been unable to realize his talent as a producer. For the last 10 years or so, Dharma Productions has been constantly churning out urban rom-coms rather than having All-India universally appealing blockbuster films. Many of these urban rom-coms have been profitable, sure, but they also carry a Hollywood wanna-be style vibe that frustrates the audience and carry zero appeal for the audience at single screen/smaller centres. This is coming from arguably the second biggest Bollywood production house, right behind Yash Raj Films.
Rajkumar Hirani is obviously the major director who actually knows how to cater to an All-India audience, but even he could start focusing on making higher-budget films on a grand scale. A film with the excellent universal WOM that his films carry, combined with a big star in a big-budget, grand looking film (as YRF's big action event films such as Ek Tha Tiger and Dhoom 3 looked) will be when Bollywood will realize its true potential for the peak of footfalls.
One thing I would also like to point out is that today's generation comes across as a little less charismatic than those in the past years. Perhaps it's because many of these actors don't have huge physiques and are typically seen in multiplex films where they play the role of a city boy. They rarely play larger-than-life roles, which results in them having little-to-none appeal for the audience in smaller centres and single screens.
In conclusion, these are the topics that I wanted to bring attention to when it comes to the current state of Bollywood and declining footfalls. Everything is in the hands of the filmmakers and actors!
The article has been written by Bobby Sidhu who is a box office analyst from Canada. You can follow him on Twitter here https://twitter.com/BobbyS_BO
Disclaimer: The views expressed by the writer do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of Bollywood Arena. If you also want to write for us, send your articles on [email protected]