Pathaan aside, Bollywood clocks a dull quarter

There were high expectations from Ranbir Kapoor-starrer Tu Jhoothi Main Makkaar which was coming close on the heels of the actor’s last hit Brahmastra.

Lata Jha
Updated1 Apr 2023
The two films, starring Rani Mukerji and Kapil Sharma, respectively, had made  <span class='webrupee'>₹</span>15.13 crore and  <span class='webrupee'>₹</span>1.50 crore at last count. (HT_Mumbai)
The two films, starring Rani Mukerji and Kapil Sharma, respectively, had made ₹15.13 crore and ₹1.50 crore at last count. (HT_Mumbai)

New Delhi: The last quarter of the financial year remained muted for the Hindi film industry, with box office collections estimated at around 850 crore, and footfalls down by 30-40% compared to pre-covid days.

Shah Rukh Khan’s Pathaan, which clocked over 540 crore at the domestic box office, remained the sole hit of the season, an outlier at a time when most films underperformed.

Box office failures include Akshay Kumar’s Selfiee and Kartik Aaryan’s Shehzada. While most trade experts point out these films were all greenlit and designed pre-pandemic, others say exorbitant ticket pricing in cinemas has played spoilsport.

Pathaan has been the only film that has delivered across metros and tier-two and three markets. Things are set to get even tougher as we step into the pre-Ramzan period where several sections anyway stay away from cinemas,” independent trade analyst Sreedhar Pillai said.

There were high expectations from Ranbir Kapoor-starrer Tu Jhoothi Main Makkaar which was coming close on the heels of the actor’s last hit Brahmastra.

However, the film had only clocked in Rs130 crore at last count, attracting primarily urban, multiplex audiences.

Even in the South, Pillai pointed out, there had been only two decently profitable films, both released for Pongal in January, Vijay’s Varisu and Ajith’s Thunivu.

To be sure, post-covid recovery has been far more pronounced in the South, where caps on ticket pricing and loyal fans see films through.

“In the Hindi-speaking belt, small and mid-sized films like Mrs Chatterjee vs Norway and Zwigato were priced on par with tentpole films in multiplexes. It’s almost like a guaranteed strategy to keep people from going to cinemas with the family,” said a film producer, declining to be named.

The two films, starring Rani Mukerji and Kapil Sharma, respectively, had made Rs15.13 crore and 1.50 crore at last count.

With top stars no longer bringing assured returns, there is much concern among the production fraternity.

“Everyone is dreading the box office test, which is why we haven’t seen too many new project announcements of late. Confidence levels are at an all-time low,” film producer, trade and exhibition expert Girish Johar said.

While the advent of streaming platforms has undoubtedly dented the theatrical business, there is now a greater expectation from the audience to justify the commitment of time, money and effort that movie-going demands, Johar said. Even mediocre Hollywood films open and sustain better than Hindi movies, he added, referring to titles like Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania that made 8.10 crore on its opening day in India, higher than any Hindi film released during the quarter, except Pathaan, Tu Jhoothi Main Makkaar and Bholaa. Another Hollywood tentpole film John Wick: Chapter 4, has managed decent box office collections, netting over 26 crore at last count.

Agreeing that the industry cannot run on one Pathaan, independent exhibitor Vishek Chauhan said the state of the industry is concerning. “The theatrical landscape is a completely different beast post covid and audience perception of what gives value, how many times to go to the theatre and what is the primary mode of consumption, now OTT, has changed,” Chauhan said.

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