Arts and Entertainment
Debacles 2023 (IANS Column: B-Town)
MUMBAI — As far as the media and social media, and all those who believe in them, the year gone by was all about ‘Animal’, ‘Jawan’, ‘Gadar 2’ and ‘Pathaan’, and how these films either crossed or were on the verge of crossing the INR 500-crore mark.
In my earlier column, I narrated the story of make-believe blockbusters and I mentioned these films at length. What is sad is that the media — social, print and electronic — amplify and seem to endorse these claims, making the world at large believe in them.
A INR 100-crore grosser was a favourite term used by these media not long ago. Then it became INR 200 crore. How would they know that a INR 100-crore grosser actually meant barely INR 50 crore of real business? It has come to such a point that now even the INR 285-crore Salman-starrer ‘Tiger 3’ is not taken notice of!
Nobody bothers to consider that there are hundreds of films which never see a crore in earnings; they end up with paltry lakhs.
Do a couple or three INR 500-crore claimants are all that make headlines in a normal year in the film trade? What these few films are said to have earned can hardly balance the hundreds of crores lost because as many as 148 Hindi films were released last year. You may not even have heard the titles of some of them.
Those who claim to know it all, do they even know that a film titled ‘Panch Kriti: Five Elements’ managed to sell just 50 tickets and collected a mere INR 10,000 to show as its lifetime (lasting one show) business?
Considering even a small-budget film costs about INR 10 crore to make, you can say that someone’s fortune was lost. Of course, some of the damage was caused by a netizen, but it was mostly because of the way the cinema exhibition system works.
The multiplex chains have no playtime to offer to small films sans face value. To add to the losses and hurt reputation of the producer, a trade journalist authored an article writing off the film totally. What followed was a police complaint and so on.
That was one example, but there are films that have managed to collect barely INR 25 lakh or INR 30 lakh.
The year was full of them. The figure for ‘Yatri’ is a mere INR 3 lakh; ‘Shastry Viruddha Shastry’, INR 8 lakh; ‘Three Of Us’, INR 30 lakh. The lineup of such films that made below INR 1 crore adds up to 90 films! Then, of course, there are those that are below the INR 10-crore mark and all of them are complete capital-loss projects. .
Why do people make such films that all those around them know would ruin the makers, but won’t say this! Earlier, we used to say that the glamour of the film industry draws them to such projects. No longer so.
Now, you can’t become famous when you enter the film industry. True, the media has grown by leaps and bounds, but you don’t matter to the media till you become successful.
Small films lose small and big films suffer big time. But, percentage wise, the losses work out to anything between 80 and 99 per cent. For example, ‘Sajini Shinde Ka Viral Video’ collected INR 40 lakh in cinemas, while ‘Shastry Viruddha Shastry’ managed INR 6 lakh and, as I mentioned, on average a small film costs INR 10 crore to make!
I have mentioned a few films because their titles may sound familiar to you. I can’t list all 90. Besides, there are 23 films that have done a lifetime business of INR 1 crore to INR 10 crore.
For instance, a veteran producer, who has to his credit about two dozen films, including some blockbusters, unwisely decided to make a film recently. His film, ‘Anari Is Back’, made for INR 9 crore could barely collect INR 7 lakh!
And what about the big-star films? They lose in multiples of crores. Tiger Shroff’s ‘Ganpath: A Hero Is Born’, collects INR 9.7 crore and the film’s hero charges some INR 35-40 crore!
The lifetime business of Akshay Kumar’s ‘Mission Raniganj’ turns out to be INR 33 crore, while Akshay charges INR 120 crore and adds to it the making and other expenses.
Then there is Nawazuddin Siddiqi. His price tag is INR 9 crore. Strangely, there are people who pay up!
The films of stars are bankrolled and bought by distributors, but small films find no backers. They don’t even get anybody willing to risk distribution.
Eventually, the producer of such a film has to pay someone INR 25-30 lakh to arrange for the release. Releasing means booking a cinema chain for the film because in most such cases, the film producer is a total novice. He only has money to burn.
Many newcomers in film production have this impression that they will recover more than their investment from OTT and such other rights. But that does not happen anymore.
Initially, I believe, the OTT platforms were working on creating a repertoire of Hindi film catalogues. And those expecting a recovery from OTT platforms carry high hopes.
The makers of film ‘Panch Kriti: Five Elements’, which ran for one show and sold tickets worth INR 10,000, demanded a very high price for OTT rights. But OTT managements have wised up.
Now, the platforms know what they don’t want to buy. The best example of that is ‘Kerala Story’, which did a theatrical business of about INR 240 crore, but no platform is showing any interest to acquire it.
Viewer Notices What Censor Won’t
There is this curious case in the South where a viewer, Raja Murugan, has approached the Madurai High Court with a plea to get the director of the film ‘Leo’, Lokesh Kanagaraja, checked for his mental faculties!
He has asked the court that the director be psychologically examined to establish whether or not he has lost his faculties!
Murugan finds the excessive use of violence, drugs, speeding and showing characters involved in illegal activities as the film’s main theme. Further, he has demanded that the film should be properly examined by the Censors and the director be tried for filming scenes that would incite violence.
The plea was to be heard by the court on January 3, but, strangely, Murugan did not turn up. If this is a publicity stunt to further promote the film, which is already a super hit, Murugan should be hauled up by the court.
Lucky for ‘Animal’, nobody went to court.
Raja Murugan is not the only one to have a complaint against the Censor Board. Some days back, the makers of a Marathi film, ‘Morrya’, needed to call an ‘Urgent’ press conference alleging that the Censors followed the policy of obfuscation and obstruction.
‘Morrya’ had been submitted for certification two months ago, and its release was planned for January 12, yet, despite many follow-ups, there was no response from the Board.
This is not the first time that a maker has complaints about the Censor Board, and it won’t be the last.