A still from the film Sanju.
A still from the film Sanju.

‘Sanju’ tops off a sparkling run for Bollywood

Bollywood's first-half collections at more than 2,210 crorebuoyed by 'Sanju', which clocked 265 crore, is a 14% increase from the 1,931 crore earned in the first six months of 2017

New Delhi: After a stellar show in the first half of 2018 when it notched up more than 2,210 crore from movie theatres in India , Bollywood is expecting an even better second half, with several much-anticipated movies lined up for release.

The first-half collections—buoyed by Rajkumar Hirani’s Sanju , which clocked 265 crore, is a 14% increase from the 1,931 crore earned in the first six months of 2017.

Trade analyst Taran Adarsh calls the first six months of 2018 “a dream" and “one of the best in the last few years". In contrast, last year’s numbers benefitted significantly from Baahubali 2: The Conclusion, the highest-grossing Indian film.

Compared to the 510 crore earnings of Baahubali 2 that single-handedly drove the report card in the first half of 2017 after its April release, there has been a string of hits this year, including Padmaavat ( 302.15 crore), Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety ( 108.95 crore), Raid ( 103.07 crore), Baaghi 2 ( 164.38 crore), Raazi ( 123.68 crore), and most recently Sanju.

Atul Mohan, editor of trade magazine Complete Cinema said the industry has already made 50-60% of the earnings notched up in 2017 and 2016. “The industry has learnt a lot from the shoddy year that 2017 was," said film distributor and exhibitor Akshaye Rathi, adding that unlike countries in Europe, cinema in India is not just art, but a means of entertainment and escapism. “Be it Raazi or Sanju, there is a conscious effort to make films that have pan-India appeal, are relatable outside the top metros and are comfortable and affordable for an average Indian to watch in the single screens as much as in the multiplexes."

While a star cast adds to the viability of a film, Adarsh said hits like Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety prove that it is the content that has to work regardless of the faces that headline it. Also, unlike the second half of the year that throws up major holidays like Dussehra, Diwali and Christmas, films like Sanju and Raazi, like Baahubali 2 last year, now prove extended holiday weekends aren’t necessary for box office success.

Meanwhile, a combination of big-ticket and small films is set to hit the screens in the second half of the year, with around 1,000 crore riding on them, according to film trade and exhibition expert Girish Johar. Their combined potential seems to suggest that Bollywood may easily top the 4,158 crore it had made in 2017.

Beginning with sports biopic Soorma this week, there is Karan Johar’s star-crossed romance Dhadak later in July, and a remake of Marathi blockbuster Sairat.

For the Independence Day weekend, there are two films high on patriotism—Akshay Kumar’s Gold and John Abraham’s Satyamev Jayate. The Gandhi Jayanti weekend will see Varun Dhawan and Anushka Sharma in Yash Raj Films’ Sui Dhaaga: Made In India.

YRF has also reserved Diwali for its big action adventure Thugs of Hindostan, starring Aamir Khan and Amitabh Bachchan. The year is expected to end on a high note with Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Zero directed by Aanand L. Rai and Ranveer Singh’s action film Simmba directed by Rohit Shetty, both scheduled for December.

“The second half of the year is always bigger and better than the first, given the holidays. It has the potential to bring in at least 20% more business," Mohan said.

All figures in this story have been sourced from movie website Bollywood Hungama.

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