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Alia Bhatt in a still from ‘Raazi’.
Alia Bhatt in a still from ‘Raazi’.

Why ‘Raazi’ profits signal good times for small Bollywood films

Released in about 1,500 screens, 'Raazi' adds to the impressive list of modestly-budgeted films that have managed good profits recently

New Delhi: Besides rave reviews, Alia Bhatt-starrer Raazi opened to box office collections of Rs32.94 crore over the past weekend. Made at a budget of Rs35-40 crore, the film which has notched up the fifth highest Hindi film opening weekend of the year so far, is fast adding to its profits. Trade analysts say the Meghna Gulzar directed spy thriller had made close to Rs30 crore from ancillary streams of revenue, like satellite, digital and music rights and recovered 75% of its investment pre-release itself.

Released in about 1,500 screens, Raazi adds to the impressive list of modestly-budgeted films that have managed good profits recently. Made for Rs20 crore, Rani Mukerji-starrer Hichki recovered its entire investment from the sale of its digital rights alone, theatrical box office collections of over Rs46 crore served as cherry on the cake. Varun Dhawan’s October, a Rs35 crore film, too made Rs25 crore from satellite and digital rights with the Rs23 crore plus theatrical earnings adding to the good news.

To be sure, the most immediate reason for the success of Bollywood’s smaller films is the emergence of the over-the-top (OTT) video streaming platforms that see viability in showcasing them post release.

“The video streaming platforms like Amazon and Netflix are definitely a boon for producers today," said Atul Mohan, editor of trade magazine Complete Cinema referring to the increasing ability of non-big-ticket films to make profits even though the year’s biggest festive weekends are still reserved for the typical Bollywood blockbusters.

The other reason to rejoice is the evident ability of female actors like Bhatt to shoulder films on their own. While Bollywood filmmakers have long emphasized on the fact that only a handful of male superstars can open films to big numbers, statistics over the years throw up interesting facts. Apart from Hichki, recent films like Tumhari Sulu (made for Rs20 crore and earned over Rs32 crore from theatrical alone) and Lipstick Under My Burkha (made for Rs9 crore and earned more than Rs16 crore from theatrical alone), all headlined by female actors, have made clear profits.

“I don’t think it’s about female or male-centric films though. I think audience mindsets have changed and they are happy to go out and watch well-told, relevant films that may not be the typical star-driven vehicles," said film trade and exhibition expert Girish Johar.

That does not take away from Bhatt’s star power in this case though, Johar added. It is only the actor’s strong fan base that has helped take Raazi beyond the top metros.

“Note what attaching a top star to a powerful script can do," Johar said.

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