Home / Industry / Ten big-budget Bollywood box-office disasters

New Delhi: There are disasters happening at movie theatres every week. But some failures remain more enduring memories than others, especially if they happen to be high-budget, high-profile or supposedly big-ticket films. That holds true more for films of the 1970s and 1980s when filmmakers couldn’t recover their investment by selling their films’ satellite, pay-per-view or overseas distribution rights. Here’s looking at Bollywood’s 10 grandest failures.

Mera Naam Joker (1970)

The nearly five-hour film with two intervals saw filmmaker Raj Kapoor get an entire circus troupe including ballerina Kseniya Ryabinkina from Russia to star alongside a host of Indian actors in the story of a clown’s life journey. Slammed for its length and experimental plot, the film bombed at the box office, nearly driving Kapoor to sell off his famous RK Studios.

Razia Sultan (1983)

Estimated to have been made at a budget of 4-10 crore, a massive figure for the time, Kamal Amrohi’s opulent love saga about the first woman ruler of the Delhi Sultanate starred the reigning box office queen Hema Malini. In the making for nearly seven years, Amrohi was said to have gone heavily overboard with the grandeur and detailing of the film’s sets. The film barely made 2 crore according to movie trade website IBOS Network.

Ajooba (1991)

Shashi Kapoor’s Amitabh Bachchan-starrer was a superhero fantasy film co-directed by Soviet filmmaker Gennadi Vasilyev and featuring several Russian actors. Made at a budget of 8 crore, the film was panned for inconsistencies like not getting the sync right for foreign actors and made a little over 2 crore at the box office.

Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raja (1993)

The Anil Kapoor and Sridevi-starrer was made at a budget of 9 crore at a time when most films didn’t dare to go beyond a crore or two. Shooting began in 1987 but director Shekhar Kapur left the project midway and had to be replaced by Satish Kaushik. When the film finally hit the theatres after six years, everything seemed dated and tacky and box office collections remained around 3 crore.

Raju Chacha (2000)

Ajay Devgan’s home production, made at 25 crore, was a huge film for its time. The children’s film, a slight rehash of filmmaker Gulzar’s Parichay, was set in a gigantic bungalow that served as the kids’ residence. Special effects added to the costs which the film couldn’t recover ultimately. Box office collections didn’t exceed 8.5 crore.

Asoka (2001)

Shah Rukh Khan’s ambitious historical drama production on the life of the Mauryan ruler was nearly three hours long and made at a budget of 14 crore. Despite a wide release across North America, the United Kingdom and screenings at various international festivals, the Santosh Sivan directed film received poor critical and box office response in India. Its net collections within the country remained around 10 crore.

Saawariya (2007)

Ranbir and Sonam Kapoor’s much-hyped debut was co-produced by Sony Pictures Entertainment. Made at a budget close to 40 crore, it was also the first Indian film to receive a North American release by a Hollywood studio. In one of the most famous Bollywood clashes in history, the film released on the same day as Shah Rukh Khan’s Om Shanti Om and earned it plenty of brickbats. The movie made 24 crore at the box office.

Drona (2008)

Abhishek Bachchan’s fantasy adventure superhero film was in the news even before release for the huge amount spent on special effects, martial arts and other fight sequences. Directed by Goldie Behl, the 45 crore film earned back less than one-third its cost.

Love Story 2050 (2008)

Harman Baweja’s debut film was supposed to take the Indian science fiction movie genre to an entirely new level with its spectacular special effects. Made at a budget of 50-60 crore, the film earned slightly more than 10 crore and remains the benchmark for how fatal a first wrong step can prove in the industry.

Bombay Velvet (2015)

The newest entrant to the infamous club is Anurag Kashyap’s period crime drama starring Ranbir Kapoor and Anushka Sharma. Made at a budget of 80 crore, the supposedly slick and stylish film couldn’t make more than 24 crore.

All figures in the story sourced from movie website IBOS Network.


Lata Jha

Lata Jha covers media and entertainment for Mint. She focuses on the film, television, video and audio streaming businesses. She is a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism. She can be found at the movies, when not writing about them.
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