Box-office does a turn-around

Before The Kashmir Files, Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Gangubai Kathiawadi set the ball rolling for 2022, crossing the 100-crore mark in no time at all

Box-office does a turn-around

Subhash K Jha

Looking back at the first three months of 2022, the box office clearly made a dramatic turn-around thanks mainly to one money spinner which proved to be the greatest box offfice of all times.

History has been made in Vivek Agnihotri’s The Kashmir Files, not only because it brought to light a sorry sordid chapter of Indian history, but also because it accrued the volume of revenues that no Hindi film can boast of. Made at a cost of Rs 6-7crores, The Kashmir Files has so far collected Rs. 280 crores at the turnstiles, and still counting.

Vivek Agnihotri says he is not counting. “I am not really into profits and losses. Even if The Kashmir Files was not such a box office success, I would make the films that I want to make and notthe films that I am expected to.”

Vivek is happy for his producer Abhishek Aggarwal who has overnight become a rival producer to the likes of Sajid Nadiadwala.

Speaking of Nadiadwala, his Bachchan Pandey released in March 2020 was completely steamrollered by The Kashmir Files, his second flop in a row after Tadap, and it’s time for the producer to do some soul-searching on the sensitive subject of "What Audiences Want".

We can safely tell you they don’t want imbecilic escapism in their cinema entertainment.

Maharashtra film exhibitor Akshay Rathi finds the box office turn-around absolutely incredible. “There was a serious bit of pent-up demand for recreational activities after being stuck for two years at home. That demand was satiated by content which was top-of-the-line and compelling, The Kashmir Files, Gangubai Kathiawadi, RRR, Spiderman, Sooryavanshi…all very inviting. I am very sure this trend will continue, unless there is another wave which seems unlikely. I am pretty hopeful the losses of the last two years will be compensated for during the coming months and years.”

Says trade analyst and producer Girish Johar, “We did miss the earlier weeks of 2022 due to the third wave and restrictions did come off slowly. So the box office was almost nil. But thereafter the tidings have been good for the Hindi Box Office. Well, at least the surge or an upswing can be clearly seen. Gangubai Kathiawadi, The Kashmir Files, RRR, have clearly led the pack followed by Badhai Do, Jhund, Bachchan Pandey. On pure numbers basis, we are at a low quarterly vis a vis before the pandemic. But happy to see that the wheels have started churning and audiences have started to come back to cinemas. Pretty optimistic that the coming months of the year, audiences in a revenge movie-watching mood , will pur into theatres.”

Before The Kashmir Files, Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Gangubai Kathiawadi set the ball rolling for 2022, crossing the 100-crore mark in no time at all. Its total box office collection so far is nearly 180 crores.

The third major successs in the first three months of 2022 is S S Rajamouli’s RRR. Though the film has underperformed severely at the box office, it is still in the successful zone.

Says Girish Johar, “The film has achieved a tremendous feat. Post the pandemic times, it is setting new benchmarks. RRR has been appreciated in all languages and is doing well in all respective languages box office, which is no small achievement in today's times. Clocking more than Rs 500 crores globally in its first weekend and still holding steadily on weekdays despite a wide release, is truly commendable. It has also started a narrative unifying the film industry as an Indian Film Industry rather than region-specific, which is the right way a move forward for Indian Cinema.”

Trade analyst Atul Mohan opines, “The first quarter of the year held a great promise for the film industry to level up with the pre-Covid times. However, for various reasons, the film industry has not been able to realize that promise. The exhibition trade reopened post-pandemic, initially with restrictions of limited capacity, which opened upto 100% step by step. Maharashtra being the main market for Hindi films, was the last to give full-occupancy permission. In my opinion the quarter can be termed as just average with The Kashmir Files saving the day for us. The first-quarter usually contributes to 18 to 20% of annual box-office. The first 3 months of last 3 years were in the range of 650-800 crores on an average but this year the numbers are just around 450 crores. The film industry, though yet to see pre-pandemic numbers, is making its way to recovery. The reason to be happy is that we are getting back in business, slowly but steadily.”

Summing up the turn-around at the box office during the first three months of 2022 producer-director Suneil Darshan says, “At the outset, the audiences are back in cinemas with gusto. However, it's all about content with entertainment and relatability as seen in The Kashmir Files, Gangubai Kathiawadi and RRR on one side, and fare that's off-the mark-inspite of the top stars (Bachchan Pandey, Jhund, Radhe Shyam and Attack) on the other hand.”

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Published: 06 Apr 2022, 12:28 PM