Bollywood has not seen such a bad day even in 70 years

Ashok Kumar starrer ‘Kismat’ is Bollywood’s first blockbuster film. Released in 1943, the film became the first Indian film to earn crores of rupees at the box office. After this film by Bengali director Gyan Mukherjee produced by Bombay Talkies, Bollywood’s Jayarath Durbar continued at a fast pace in the Indian film world. This Joy Rath, which has been going on for years, seems to have stopped in the last two years. One flop after another is the sleeplessness of Hindi filmmakers, actors and producers. 

Bollywood has not seen such a bad time in the last seven decades. Big budgets, multiple big stars in the film, massive campaigns – no gimmick works. ‘Prithviraj’, ‘Lal Singh Chadha’, ‘EightyThree’, ‘Runway Thirty-Four’, ‘Jersey’, ‘Bachchan Pandey’, ‘Shamsera’, ‘Dhakar’, ‘Rakshabandhan’, ‘Badhai Do’,’ Jhund’, ‘Heropanti 2’, ‘Gehraiya’, ‘Attack’ and many more films.

Even big names like Akshay Kumar, Ajay Devgan, Shahid Kapoor, Aamir Khan, Ranbir Kapoor, Ranveer Singh, John Abraham could not save the films from the flop. As one after another the film failed at the box office, many filmmakers, starting from actors, producers, are struggling to make ends meet.

We can’t do the power that southern films are showing in the Hindi arena. Sholay showed this power many years ago. I think the content of the film should be good. Only then will the audience see.

Aamir Khan

First Covid, then boycott

Covid has been the first major blow to this recent failure of Bollywood. The habit of going to the hall and watching the film is gone. Visiting several areas of Mumbai in the past few days, many old halls have closed down. There are several halls that have not opened since covid. Chandan cinema hall in Juhu, well-known for the Salman Khan family (whenever any Salman Khan film is released, father Salim Khan watches the film here with the whole family) has turned into a godown. Famous cinema hall Eroze has closed down. Visiting Maratha Mandir, Regal Cinema Hall also found that the attendance of the audience was very less. But even a few years ago, every show in these cinema halls had a house full.

Jhund is a 2022 Indian Hindi-language biographical sports film based on the life of Vijay Barse, the founder of NGO Slum Soccer.
Jhund is a 2022 Indian Hindi-language biographical sports film based on the life of Vijay Barse, the founder of NGO Slum Soccer.

Among them, this year’s ‘boycott’ storm has come like ‘poison on God’. Prothom Alo talked to some media workers and film critics in Mumbai about this. Like almost everyone, a ‘special force’ has been activated to destroy the Bollywood empire. The film has taken on political and religious positions. As an example, they said, now before the release of the film, several religious organizations have brought up various issues and called for boycott. They are not stopping only by calling for boycott, they have also taken to the streets and protested. The organizations have dragged the producers and actors to court on various issues. But there are other reasons beyond that.

According to many, Hindi films lack good content. Some people think that people don’t go to theaters because they have a taste for OTT. Many people think that Bollywood has become dark due to the brilliance of southern films. It has also been complained that now Bollywood does not have its own story, the makers are more interested in remakes. This generation is more attracted to Korean series and movies. Therefore, the crowd of young people in theaters is less.

Entertainment journalist Bhavna Mishra said that after the lockdown, she did not like any Bollywood film except ‘Jersey’ and ‘Jhund’. According to him, ‘now Bollywood has nothing to tell its own story. We are very much leaning towards remakes.’ Pritha Sanyal, a native of Mumbai, told Prothom Alo, ‘I am a Bollywood film insect. I would have gone as soon as the film was released. But now that attraction is lost somewhere. I watched Korean movies with my daughter during the lockdown. I was not very interested in the beginning. But gradually I also got into K-dramas. Korean content is very contemporary. I can match myself with the images even if they are not of our culture.’

Despite the decline in Hindi films at the box office, many southern films like RRR have performed well. Photo: Collected
Despite the decline in Hindi films at the box office, many southern films like RRR have performed well. | Photo: Collected

Every day of the first fortnight of this month of September, there is some kind of event of stars in Mumbai. To get the stars that the journalists have been trying to get with the representatives of public relations organizations, the journalists are tired of covering the event every day!  

What stars think about failure

 According to a survey, 77 percent of Hindi films released this year are flops. The bulk of the money that has come into the coffers of Bollywood has come from the film industry of South India.

Southern films like ‘RRR’, ‘KGF 2’, ‘Pushpa: The Rise’ have done some business due to their Hindi dubbing. Bollywood stars are shaking in such a situation. Stars who could not be found for years are also doing regular press briefings, exchanges and public relations. Running from town to town. Every day of the first fortnight of this month of September, there is some kind of event of stars in Mumbai. To get the stars that the journalists have been trying to get with the representatives of public relations organizations, the journalists are tired of covering the event every day!  

Even with so much promotion, movie lovers are not able to be attracted to the hall. Stars and producers feel that there are other reasons for Bollywood’s slump than covid and boycott. Talked about this with several stars.

Actor Aamir Khan told Prothom Alo, ‘Though the condition of the box office is fragile after Covid, “Pushpa”, “Bhool Bhulaya 2”, “Kashmir Files” and “RRR” have done good business. We can’t do the power that southern films are showing in the Hindi arena. Sholay showed this power many years ago. I think the content of the film should be good. Only then will the audience see. Apart from this, the film is coming to OTT very soon after its release. So the audience is not going. Thinking, you will watch the film in OTT at home.’

Producer Anurag Kashyap feels that Southern films have not separated from their roots. Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada filmmakers make films that stay connected to their roots. But Hindi films have no roots. Producers are making films out of their own style and genre. This new style is not understood by a large audience.

Anurag said, ‘Many filmmakers speak in English, but they are making Hindi films. If mainstream producers make films in their own style, then it will definitely work. See ‘Gangubai’ and ‘Bhool Bhulaiya 2′ doing good business even in the midst of the pandemic.’ Anurag also feels that Bollywood makers have no idea about India’s diverse culture. Many make movies by watching movies and not real life. A few days ago, in an interview given in this regard, he washed the two influential Bollywood producers Karan Johar and Aditya Chopra.

According to Salman Khan, the major reason behind the failure of Hindi films is the absence of ‘heroism’ and ‘real India’ in Bollywood films. Explaining the matter, the actor said, ‘Heroism’ is still seen in southern films. No one makes larger-than-life films now except the two of us. Some people’s statements, these are basic thoughts. Now realistic pictures are needed. Some people think of India as a glittering world between Cafe Parade and Andheri. But there is a world beyond this, beyond human understanding. My point is, get out there and see. My movie is for the people of “Aasal Bharat”. After watching my movie, the audience’s blood starts boiling. In South Indian films, heroes are still portrayed as heroes on screen. This is the genre of movies of Salim Khan and Javed Akhtar. They have taken this trend to a bigger scale. We are busy making “realistic” films.’

The picture is not playing, it’s my fault, ours. Change must be made. Know what the audience wants. Pictures should be made according to their taste. I don’t want to blame anyone else for this.

Akshay Kumar

Akshay Kumar
Akshay Kumar

Akshay Kumar also spoke about this. Taking responsibility for the failure, he said, ‘The film is not running, it is my fault, ours. Change must be made. Know what the audience wants. Pictures should be made according to their taste. I don’t want to blame anyone else in this regard.’ Actor and filmmaker Rakesh Roshan feels that today’s filmmakers are making films keeping themselves and their friends in mind. They are unable to connect with common people. Kareena Kapoor Khan is also emphasizing on story, viewers are seeing better content in OTT since the time of covid. So only they will go to the theater if the story is good.

Kajal Agarwal
Kajal Agarwal

Dominance of Southern stars

Southern heroes and heroines have also overtaken Bollywood heroes and heroines in the film market in the past few years. For instance, according to The Ormax Star Audience Pool survey, only three of the top Indian actresses this year are from Bollywood. Alia Bhatt is at number 2, Deepika Padukone is at number 5 and Katrina Kaif is at number 8. Kajal Aggarwal has left actresses like Deepika behind; Who is in 4 Pooja Hegde at 10 Kajal and Pooja have also worked in Hindi films. However, they have achieved this position due to the strength of southern films. Telugu actress Samantha Ruth Prabhu has topped the race ahead of Alia. But the situation of the heroes is more alarming.

Akshay Kumar got the only place from Bollywood in the list. It is also in his place 5. The remaining places are occupied by the southern heroes. Vijay is at the top of the ‘Boys Club’, followed by Junior NTR, Prabhas and Allu Arjun.

‘Brahmastra’ is the light of hope

How will Bollywood turn around in the depressed market? What can you do? Sanjeev Kumar Bijli, Managing Director of PVR, India’s reputed distributor, feels that Bollywood is going through a tough time. A hit film will change the state of the industry. 

Ranbir Kapoor and Alia Bhatt in Brahmāstra: Part One – Shiva 2022
Ranbir Kapoor and Alia Bhatt in Brahmāstra: Part One – Shiva 2022

‘Brahmastra’ which released last week shows such hope. At the end of the third day of release, this film has added 100 crore rupees! There have been very few Bollywood films, not in recent times, that have achieved such rapid success in terms of revenue. Critics believe that this incident is an example of Bollywood’s recession.

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