Hindi Film 101: Why Do We Keep Seeing the Same Thing Over and Over Again? Risk-Reward in Hindi Film

This is another one of those posts that I know I have said in various forms in other comments and stuff, but I thought I might as well write it all out in one place so we can think about it together.  Once again, the war drums are beating as to why Shahrukh is playing too young, in a romance, and opposite a woman half his age.  Replace “Shahrukh” with “Salman” or “Ajay” or “Akshay”, and the same question comes up.  Let’s not settle for the simple “ageism!” or “midlife crisis!” explanation, let’s dig a little deeper.

Non-Usual Disclaimer: I am not, nor have I ever been, a part of the Indian film industry.  This is all just based on observation and analysis of public records, like interviews and box office figures.  You can feel free to disagree or offer an alternative theory, but this is mine.

 

The starting point should really be that box office post I wrote a few weeks back.  It’s easy to get caught up, as an outsider, in the horserace aspect of the film industry, the “who has the biggest box office?  What film gets their fastest?  What star is on top?” stories.  Or, alternative, to get caught up in looking at films as purely artistic products, to critique them as though they existed in a vacuum with the only goal of pleasing critics.  But neither of those are true.  Films are there as the product that supports millions of small laborers worldwide.  They need to make a profit, they need to bring in an audience, or else thousands of people will go hungry tonight (including me, as I said in my box office post, I learned how to analyze this stuff when I was working minimum wage at a movie theater and a flop movie meant I ate popcorn for dinner).

 

So start with that!  When a star makes a film “just for the money”, it’s not only for his benefit.  That 100 crore isn’t some obscure way of tracking who is the top box office star, or so they can buy a gold plated swimming pool or something, it’s so millions of people around the world will be able to eat and the industry will continue chugging along.

It sounds egotistical to say that this is all on the one star, but it kind of is!  Just to talk about it in broad strokes, let’s say that 1/3rd of all Hindi film profits per year come from the films of the 3 Khans.  Which actually isn’t that far off, in 2016, 700 crore came from Dangal and Sultan alone.  And then there’s Fan, which only made 85 crore.  2016 was a terrible year for the film industry, lots of articles about struggling producers and distributors and theaters.  If Fan had been a hit, tacked on another 300 crore to the total, that could have made the difference.

Image result for fan shahrukh khan

(brilliant movie, not a profitable movie)

Okay, let’s stay with the 1/3rd idea.  Because it’s easy to conceptualize.  So, a movie star decides “I’m only going to do offbeat character roles in small films so I can stretch as an actor”.  It means he will take a 1/3rd hit in his income (2/3rds being non-film related, brands and weddings and stuff).  But he is fabulously wealthy, makes no difference to him.

But let’s leap alllllllllll the way down to the bottom of the industry.  I am running a small theater in a small city.  Can I handle a 1/3rd reduction in my annual profits?  Does that mean I have to lay off 1/3rd of my staff?

You can expand this to all parts of the industry.  Spot boys, cameraman, assistant directors, everyone takes a pay cut of 1/3rd.  And the industry profits as a whole take a 1/3rd cut, that’s the profit margin, production houses start looking for outside investors and cutting output, Hollywood moves in and buys up even more of the Indian industry, and takes up even more screens in the Indian theaters.  10 years later, Hindi film is essentially dead.

That’s worst case scenario, but it is also a real fear and a threat that is in the back of all those articles about Hollywood films doing better in India, stars making fewer films per year, theater owners struggling, etc.  It’s the unspoken thing that everyone fears, the reason there is this desperate urgency in finding a new generation of stars, in finding a new big hit movie, and all of that.  And desperate attention paid to every major star release because it HAS to hit, or else the film world ends.

Image result for jungle book movie

(Very very bad week for Hindi film when this movie beat Fan, first time a Hollywood movie beat a Khan release at the box office)

And now you could say “yes, well, maybe that’s a good thing.  If popular Hindi film is replaced by Hollywood, then the common mass could watch Hollywood, and Hindi films would just be the more intellectual interesting films.”  But, would we?  Or would those intellectual interesting filmmakers just start working in Western films, and the audience for those intellectual interesting films turn more and more towards Western products?  Maybe, maybe not.  But we don’t know, and again, that is the fear.  Artsy film people in India want better movies from the Hindi industry.  But they don’t want the complete end of the popular Hindi industry!  That runs the risk of destroying themselves along with it.

 

Okay, that’s our baseline.  Stars HAVE to be in hit movies or else Hindi film ends.  As they themselves have said in interviews, so they know they have this responsibility on themselves, and a failed film is a failure to support all the millions of people around the world who rely on them for income.  Maybe this isn’t true, maybe it is an exaggeration of their responsibilities, but this is what they think.

Now the question is, how to ensure it is a hit film?  There are 3 things that everyone complains about with stars:

  1. They make the same movie over and over playing the same character.
  2. They play characters much younger than they are
  3. They play opposite actresses much younger than they are.

 

Let’s use our brains and take these complaints one by one and think about why they are happening.

1.1. They make the same movie over and over playing the same character.

Well, first, this isn’t actually totally true.  This is confirmation bias.  Any time we see them in the same kind of movie, we say “oh look, yet another [blank] film from [blank].”  And any time we see them in a different movie we say “oh look, [blank] is just trying to prove that he can play a [blank] before he goes back to doing the same thing in his next movie.”

It’s not totally true, but it is still a little true.  When a film is backed and promoted as a big hit, it is usually in a trusted genre with a trusted character type for the star.  So the most popular and successful films seem to be the same for every actor, that’s where the misconception arises.

So, why do they make the same movie over and over?  Well, there are millions of people relying on them.  The pressure has been increasing over the past several years as releases get bigger and bigger and HAVE to be hits.  You can’t afford to experiment any more.  And audiences like things that are familiar.

In the west, we have the “genre” theory, you show up at a theater and say “give me a ticket for the new action movie.”  But Indian film developed differently, following the Rasa theory it provided a wide range of elements all in one film.  The thing that pulled them together was the central character, guiding us through the film.  And, eventually, that central character became the identifying aspect, we didn’t want to see an action movie, we wanted to see a Amitabh Bachchan movie.  Instead of a romance, we wanted to see a Shammi Kapoor movie.  And so on and so forth.  The audience comes to rely on this, if we go see Shammi Kapoor and he is playing an angry drunk, we will be furious and ask for our money back, because that’s not the kind of film we wanted.

Image result for wanted 2009

(Or sometimes it works out, we discover a new variation on a familiar flavor and we like it.  But it’s a pretty big risk to take)

That’s what happened with Fan (along with all the other things that happened).  Despite the trailers, the posters, everything else that indicated this would not be a happy film, people came out of it absolutely FURIOUS that it wasn’t the “Shahrukh Khan film” they thought it would be, no songs, no romance, no good!  And then Raees went the other way, tacked on a romance and songs just to make the audience happy, to feel like they got their SRK fix.  And it still didn’t quite work, because the film as a whole never really felt like it came together

So, okay, now he is playing it safe.  Jab Harry Met Sejal is being actively promoted as “don’t worry, calm down, this is exactly what you liked before, no surprises, you can trust us and give us your money.”  I mean, look at the title!

 

2. They play characters much younger than they are

 

Again, a bit of a confirmation bias here!  Salman in the second half of Sultan took his shirt of and showed us an old man gut, he is playing someone tired and over the hill.  Shahrukh literally played himself in Fan, made fun of his age in Chennai Express, etc. etc.  Aamir played the father of two teenagers in Dangal, because he is the father of two teenagers.  Actually, older than that now, right?  Time moves so fast!  I remember when Ira was just a cute little girl.

Image result for aamir ira

(She’s so grown up!)

And also again, bit of an explanation for the confirmation bias, the films in which they play their own age tend to be promoted as “special” “different”, so we don’t think of them as part of their regular filmography.  Plus, they tend to squeeze in some kind of youthful moment so the audience still feels like they aren’t THAT old.

And, why is that?  Why does the audience need young characters in their films?

Periodically I will run across someone proudly and excitedly saying “India is a young country!  The majority of the population is under 30.”  And I will think “wait, doesn’t that just mean most people don’t live past 40?  Isn’t that a bad thing?”

But setting that part of it aside, let’s think about the audience/potential ticket buyers for a film.  The majority of them are under 30.  You could make films for little kids, but they aren’t buying tickets, their parents are.  So, who is old enough to buy their own tickets?  People around 18-20 and up.  And then you hit 40 and die (according to demographics).

If I am 30, who am I going to relate to on film?  Not kids, I am all grown up now.  Not older people, they are old and I don’t want to think about old age.  I want to think about people like me and a little younger than me.  People making their way and finding themselves in the world.

And so we end up with the major stars, the only ones who can guarantee that kind of box office return, having to play much much younger than they are, because that’s the best way to reach the largest audience.

 

3. They play opposite actresses much younger than they are.

 

 

This is the first one that is NOT entirely driven by an effort to please the audience.  I don’t think the audience cares how old an actress is.  And I don’t think the producers do either really.

There are a couple of elements that come into play.  First, again, the characters and plot have to be aimed smack at 25-35 to hit the biggest demographic.  Our hero is already going to be outside of that demographic.  Maybe it’s good to help the audience a little by only asking them to suspend disbelief for one of the leads, not the both of them,.

There are some gender flipped examples of this.  A few of them.  Ki & Ka with Kareena and Arjun, Mohabbat with Akshaye and Madhuri, Army with Sridevi and Shahrukh.  It’s less common, but the pattern holds, you cast an older bigger star, and then put someone young opposite them to balance and make it easier to believe the big star is younger than they are.  But this is much less common because there are few female stars at the same level as the male stars, but that is explained in this whole other post here.

(Mohabbat, Madhuri is 30 and a major star and Akshaye is 22 and just launched)

This isn’t an insuperable barrier.  Kajol and Shahrukh co-starred in Dilwale, Shahrukh and Mahira Khan co-starred in Raees, Salman and Kareena in Bajrangi Bhaijaan, Aamir and Sakshi Tanwar in Dangal.  Although, even there, there was a 10 year plus age gap with each, we have just gotten used to heroines being that much younger than heroes, it feels “normal”.

Which brings me to my next point, why are heroines always so much younger than heroes?  Talking real big picture, it’s because of fertility!  If you want to have kids, and you are a woman, 35 is the magic year.  We all know this, right?  Not that it is impossible after 35 by any means, but it is a lot harder.  So, 2 kids, 5 years apart, that means your first one would ideally pop up at 30.  Which means married at 29.  Which means career ends at 29, or at least take a 7 year break until the youngest is old enough to stop breastfeeding.

Again, none of this is what you HAVE to do!  You can have kids after 35, you can have kids only a year apart, you can only have one kid, you can have no children at all, you can have children without getting married, whatever your heart desires!  But if you want to keep the option open of 2 kids 5 years apart, that means planning for the possibility of a career that ends at 29 with marriage.  29 at the latest.  And even if you know for sure about yourself that you don’t want kids, or you only want one kid, or you want to adopt so age doesn’t matter, or whatever else, everyone else in the world is looking at you thinking “She’s 31, she’s engaged, she’s going to go on maternity leave within a year, I’m not hiring her.”

Making a movie isn’t like other jobs.  You can’t just go back to work and then come home and stay up all night with the kids.  When they get a little older, it’s a great career for having kids!  They can come on film shoots with you, everyone spoils them, they learn what “Mommy” does, and all that.  But when they are 3 and younger and need your attention every minute, it is really hard to handle that and also be filming for 15 hours straight.

At the very least, you have to slow down.  Even if you only take the bare minimum time off, like Kareena did, she still lost a year of work.  With the way movies are filmed right on top of each other and with film schedules intermingled, taking 6 months completely off means turning done 2-3-4 films altogether.  And then starting fresh trying to sign new stuff post-baby.

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(And yes, it is also hard because producers are horrible about it.  Sonam, an awesome producer, actually talked to Kareena about it and worked around her needs and they were able to finish the film.  But another producer might have just swapped actresses when the pregnancy was announced)

And of course, no one knows exactly when they will get pregnant.  Which is the other thing you don’t say out loud but everyone is thinking.  If you get married, everyone assumes you want to get pregnant.  And if you are currently not pregnant, they still won’t sign you, because they are worried about a Heroine situation where you get into pre-production and suddenly learn a baby is on the way and you are out a movie star.

So, there’s two big reasons to cast a younger actress.  A) so the audience can more easily believe that hero and heroine are both young, and B) the industry slants young in general with women because of babies and biology.

Here’s the 3rd one.  Scheduling!  Let’s go back to Dilwale.  Kajol only worked on Dilwale for like a month.  She was in and out and done in no time.  And in between we saw her going to events with her husband, with her mother and sister, spending time with her children, plus making personal appearances as brand ambassador, to support her charities, everything else in her life.  A married woman with kids and family responsibilities, who is also still a major figure in India, has a really complicated schedule.  She can’t drop everything and make the kind of commitment required for a major role.

(totally worth it, I think.  I would rather have Kajol for slightly rushed scenes and a story that feels incomplete, than another actress who had time to really dig into the character.  But it is a gamble)

Or the filmmaker can do what they did for Kareena in Bajrangi Bhaijaan, write a tiny little part that she could shoot in no time and where she would really shine.  Or you can do what they tried with Raees, and with Dangal.  Bring in an actress from outside the film industry, who is older and experienced, but not quite as busy as a major female movie star would be.

Or you can play it safe.  Take an actress who is famous, young and unmarried, and willing to drop everything and work around your schedule.  So, Anushka.  Or Kat.  Or Anushka.  Or Kat.  There’s a reason they keep popping up.  Once you narrow down the requirements, that’s all there is.

 

 

Here’s the thing, it is entirely possible to make a really good movie that everyone from every age can relate to, with an older actress who is so dedicated that she will drop everything (including her family responsibilities) to work on it, and with a performance from the star which is so good that no one cares if it is familiar or not.  That is the movie that we want, that is the movie that we are asking for.

Image result for baghban

(This movie.  Remember this movie?  Hemaji and Amitabh in a romance in their 60s?)

 

But remember, if you make that movie and it doesn’t work, Hindi film is over in ten years.  That’s the stakes that are keeping the stars from taking the leap.  It’s an awfully big thing to gamble with.

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24 thoughts on “Hindi Film 101: Why Do We Keep Seeing the Same Thing Over and Over Again? Risk-Reward in Hindi Film

  1. Thank you for your observations on this area of profitability.

    It’s not just that Hollywood would take over in a profit-less “era” that would cause a major survival situation.

    Theater owners may sell or rent out their properties to non-film businesses; see, for instance, how the Archana Cinema Complex in New Delhi became the NDTV headquarters. A significant number of motion picture halls in India are large contiguous plots in densely populated areas, which are attractive for not only “retail” stores, but also suitable for building an office building with an attractive feature – availability of car parking. From a “money” point of view it is difficult to open a new movie hall given other “business” opportunities that the property owner is being told about. This leads to a permanent loss in actual number of movie seeing outlets. Once that occurs to a significant extent, then people with some interest in investing in movies reduce their interest to basically zero, because instead of theoretically operating in a geography with 10,000 screens, say, they are now operating in the same geography with, say 5,000 screens, thereby limiting in their financial forecasts or imaginations how much a super-hit movie will gross in the best case scenario. So the initial money needed to make a movie become less and less at an industrial level. That results in a stable industry situation eventually with fewer producers and fewer exhibitors. Once the ability to generate gross revenue diminishes, it inevitably leads to fewer technicians and artisans being needed to create the film.

    Given the long legacy of Indian governments not preferring to support “cinema” via the public exchequer, the remedy of public subsidies to re-build the movie hall infrastructure may or may not be available, in a post-profit-less “era.”

    The presence or absence of Hollywood may not be relevant at all in such a scenario.

    Also, I hope you enjoy Jab Harry Met Sejal, whenever you get the opportunity to see it.

    Regards.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your comment! This is a completely new angle to me on something that I have found puzzling. There’s been a lot of talk about how India is “underscreened”, and yet the theaters that are there seem to be struggling to make a profit. Your explanation makes sense, that there would theoretically be more screens that would result in more profit for film producers, but they would have less profit for the builders and developers than building a different business in the same location.

      And of course the other part of this is that the business is increasingly focused on the urban zones. I am sure there are plenty of rural areas where a small single screen theater could make an enormous profit, but land developers are not looking in those areas.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Would you happen to have any numbers indicating a fall in profits for theater chains in India..? Because it is still true how desperately underscreened India is. Also I wonder if there is any anti trust law in India currently like in the US where a movie studio cannot own and run a theater chain or something.

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        • I don’t know of any particular source I can point you to. But it’s accepted that the profits have been disappointing pretty consistently for Hindi films for the past couple years. And that drop in profits is going to hit the theaters before it hits anywhere else.

          I don’t know of an anti-trust law, Reliance at least is both into production and theaters. But it has so many little sub-companies, that might not even be breaking a trust law if they are separated enough.

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          • Ok so quick query: if i’m right in thinking that currently the flow works like this – producers->distributors->theater owners. Why can’t producers deal with theater owners directly? Are there just too many?

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          • Yes! That’s it exactly, distributors come in between the studios and the movie theaters.

            Some studios are their own distributors, Yash Raj, Rajshri, and Red Chillies (at least for Dilwale) acted as their own distributors. But that means your profit is delayed. With the middleman system, you get a pay out from the distributor for the rights purchase before the film comes out, sometimes even before it finishes filming. You need a certain amount of faith in your product and security in your business before you can wait for the profits direct from the ticket sales. Meanwhile, the distributors are dealing in mass products, they’ve got a whole bunch of movies they can distribute, it helps to spread the risk for them versus the producers who only work on one thing at a time. At least, traditionally that’s how it worked. Now all the lines are getting blurry, UTV distributors got into production, Yash Raj got into distribution, everything is mixing and matching.

            On Thu, Aug 3, 2017 at 9:05 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  2. Shobana once presumably said “In the Malayalam film industry only the women age, the men don’t”. Here’s another reason why actors play characters younger than themselves.The audience can pretend to themselves that they haven’t aged so long as they see their favorite star playing the same character he played 10-15 years ago. There’s a particular episode of Komal Nahta’s show where he lists the umpteen reasons why a star would do a movie for money.Very interesting.Unfortunately Nahta mostly speaks in Hindi.So here’s a chance to brush up your Hindi.

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    • Oh, I like that point! About the illusion that we haven’t aged because they haven’t aged. I just noticed something similar when I was looking up Anushka’s age, and I realized that in the time I have been an SRK fan he has gone from romancing women slightly older than me to women slightly younger than me. Part of the reason someone like Kajol or Mahira might feel “normal” to me is because they are about 5-10 years older than me, just like his heroines are “supposed” to be.

      On Thu, Aug 3, 2017 at 4:13 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  3. Very good post, Margaret. Just a small point, I think the Khans’ films actually make up half of the profit of the Hindi industry, not one third, which only strengthens your point. And now (since last year), it’s not just Hollywood films, it’s also “regional” films which also threaten the Hindi industry. I can’t decide if it’s just egos (in pretending they are the “face of Indian cinema”), or actual fear. I sense, after Bahubali 2, that it’s actually fear, while last year with Sairat it was a mixture of both.

    Another point I want to mention: the success of the mega star films isn’t only for the continuation of the industry itself. A long time ago, before he found his success, Anurag Kashyap started a blog called Passion for Cinema, which was meant for independent film makers. I used to read it fairly regularly, and was alternately amused and exasperated by the naivete and greed of all these would be “artistic” film makers, who, when one actually managed to get his film screened in a theater, would bemoan why it didn’t make as much money as the latest Salman/SRK release, and blame (wait for it) the poor taste of the ignorant Indian audience. After a few years (i.e., after the blog grew in readership and several people from the Hindi industry also started to post there), one guy who worked for either YRF or Dharma wrote a post saying essentially that, rather than complain about the big stars’ films, the indie film makers ought to be grateful to them, because, if it wasn’t for the profits made from those films, the studios wouldn’t have any money to invest in the independent films. (this was before corporates got into the business). Man, you should have seen the way he was shouted down, with all kinds of insults about his commercial mind not being able to appreciate the finer points of an artistic sensibility. Not a single person understood the point he was making. But that is another responsibility these stars carry.

    Talking of responsibility, Salman has mentioned in many interviews over the years how his father always impressed on him, from the beginning of his career, that he wasn’t in it just for himself, but for all the others who work in the industry, and how they are all dependent on the success of any given film. He also said, in the last two or three years, that the business won’t be healthy unless the number of theaters is increased, and that he intends to invest in building more theaters. However, the only one that I read about his investing in was the renovation of an old theater in Mumbai itself, rather than building new ones in smaller towns or cities.

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    • With the major studios, it’s so direct now how the big film profits are being folded into supporting smaller films. Yash Raj made Sultan, and then turned around and made all those small interesting movies. Dharma makes Student of the Year, and then turns around and funds Bombay Velvet. If you look at their slate of films, there is a clear balance of “this one will make an obscene profit, this one will encourage artistic development in the industry.”

      On Thu, Aug 3, 2017 at 10:13 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  4. One thing that people often forget about bollywood is that while it claims to cater to the hindi speaking audience, the core hindi speaking audience and Hindi as second language audience also has its own regional cinema too which actively competes with Bollywood releases. Technically only the north has a wife hindi speaking audience and out of the total population of this half, around 30% cannot afford theatre tickets of any kind, the next 10-20% who can afford tickets usually ends up watching a regional film because bollywood is too urbane/unrelatable for them and the rest are divided into segments like housewife (urban upper class/urban middle class/urban lower class/urban slum dweller/tier 2 city upper class/tier 2 city middle class etc) student (metro city university student and tier 2 city university student are actually totally different in terms of taste even if they’re from the same social strata), middle aged men, kids, etc.

    The problem that bollywood is facing that they no longer know who their target audience is. The people with the money in urban centres are no longer just posh English speakers. They’re also speakers of regional languages who’d rather watch a regional release because they’re not ashamed of it anymore.

    There’s a saying about India that the water here changes every 3 kilometres and culture changes every 3 kilometres. That’s actually true. Our hindi industry is now basically the Bombay industry now. And when viewed as a regional industry, it is repeating the same patterns that we see in all regional industries. Each and every one of the problems with Bollywood is what’s true of any regional industry. Bollywood never represented the hindi heartland with any truthfulness anyway.

    As for Hollywood eating away indian film industry, that’s never going to happen. Simply because we already have regional cinema holding up the fort. Thanks to rajnikanth and bahubali, regional cinema makers are now opting to distribute hindi dubbed films in the north too. The actual hindi film industry has to compete with regional language industry before Hollywood. We’re all about the navarasas and Hollywood can’t provide that.

    Another angle that’s overlooked is distribution and profits made through TV rights. In the Hindi belt, south stars have a following but its largely untested at the BO. On tv, 80% of content played during the day across hindi film channels are dubbed versions of south films or remakes of south films.

    If the khans didn’t make any money in a particular year, their overpriced BO askings would be replaced by smaller films with an affordable ticket. That’s how we have second generation regional stars today. Just that the khans appear more important. God knows why.

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    • I feel like part of the problem is that Hindi film is trying to be too big. Stuff like the smaller Yash Raj releases that are coming out, which are firmly set in the northern regions, seems like it might be a wiser choice than continuing to crank out watered down NRI romances that don’t really feel connected to any particular area.

      On Fri, Aug 4, 2017 at 6:33 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Yup. That’s probably because the stars and directors behind them have become too big. They can’t and don’t relate to the masses anymore. They don’t recognise the mobility within the classes and regions. Plus the big promotion fad is really hurting them budget wise. At this stage of their careers, their tiny budget home production films should be making 100+ crores.

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        • Exactly. All the profit from these major releases is going to promotions to drive that box office. The real profit drivers are the Akshay Kumar movies (because he is so smart). Smaller release, smaller promotions, bit profit.

          On Fri, Aug 4, 2017 at 7:22 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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        • Slightly off topic (or maybe not), but I am seeing some truly terrible reviews for JHMS, both from critics and audience members. It didn’t look very interesting to me from the “trails”, and, without having seen anything from the film, I’m having bad vibes from Thugs of Hindustan, too, so each Khan might have a major flop. Then Margaret will have to revisit this post to see how fast the Hindi film industry will collapse. 🙂 There’s another speculation that I’ve run across, that the Hindi audience, having seen Bahubali 2, will not now tolerate anything of a lesser quality. What do people here think?

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          • I second your theory. I’m a bollywood sceptic. I can’t sit through most of Bollywood films these days so I’m either watching the classics or regional cinema. Bahubali was worth the money, the time and I didn’t have to leave my brains at home to enjoy it either. We’re still talking about it 100 days post release. Still watching favorite parts.

            Standard wise, it’s the navarasa things all over again. If spending 300 bucks gets me Bahubali, would I spend 275 for JHMS? Doesn’t sound like a must have deal after Dilwale!!!

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          • If I was in charge of the world, I’d fix the 275 rupee price before I tried to make a lot more Bahubaalis. Bahubaali was brilliant and all that, but it also took 4 years to make. If there was a 300 rupee movie every 4 years, and 3 50 rupee movies every weekend, I think the industry would be in a healthier place. It’s all the pressure on these few films that is killing things, instead of spreading the risk.

            But, that’s something the industry as a whole would have to change. Which Yash Raj at least seems to be trying to do, provide this small films that will fill in the profit gap for the theater owners if a big film flops. I wish more producers would do that, and more distributors would give those small films a decent chance instead of just chasing the record breaking once a year hits.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Yes. When I was in college, mid -2000s, single screens in my town (Shimla) had front hall tickets at 35-40, back Hall at flat 50 and balcony at 70-80. The price remained the same through a film’s run. Students, families, bureaucrats, businesspeople, people visiting from the villages could go watch a film without going broke. And these were good, reputed single screens. Films had more than a month’s run easily. Om shanti om ran till christmas when it was released in that town. The other two single screens showed other films they bagged. So at any given time, a person in this sleepy hill town could go watch a wholesome family film for dirt cheap prices. It was cheaper than hanging out at a coffee shop so students and housewives came in during afternoon shows. Our high-school batch was taken to watch Lagaan by the school because the tickets were reasonably priced. I really don’t hear many schools taking their students for films anymore. More recently, my dad took us to watch Oh My God in a single screen he used to hang out at during his college days. The tickets were still cheap even for the best seats, the crowd was good and my dad was tired so he feel asleep there. He missed the film so we went back to the same theatre the next week. He loved it and he subsequently watched the film in that theatre with a few of my uncles and his friends across multiple trips. The theatre I gathered got more business from my dad overall than a multiplex ever could simply because the price was reasonable for a single visit even with the food. Let’s not forget, single screens are usually the ones offering slashed prices for tax-free films which multiplexes often don’t. The romance of the old family run single screen is also making a return so it’s going to be very interesting to watch whether bollywood can adjust its marketing strategies to new market realities.

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          • Not being on the ground in India, what I keep hearing second hand is about the rise of the multiplex and mall culture. But as a film consumer, I want more films like Oh My God or Om Shanti Om, that would play well in repeat business in a singlescreen. Not movies that are slanted towards one tiny very wealthy part of the audience and you really only enjoy on the first watch and never want to see again. The re-watchable family films, that’s what attracted me to Hindi cinema in the first place, and that’s what makes it unique among world cinemas.

            So, yay! Please please more single screens and fewer multiplexes!

            On Fri, Aug 4, 2017 at 10:35 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

            >

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          • What’s interesting is that there are multiple screen non-chain, family owned units coming up too. So maybe the single screen ethics with a multiple screen setup could redeem the industry. I would love for the hindi industry to break free of the higher price-more screen-100 crore mindset. The same film everywhere for double the price of a regular film is also a buzzkill.

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          • Agree 100%. At the time of Bahubali’s release there were people saying it raised the standards that other movie makers should aim for. Now after seeing so many Hindi flops recently, I also think Bahubali has increased audience’s expectations. I think it is a good development.

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  5. Pingback: Box Office: Jab Harry Met Sejal, Not As Bad As it Could Be! | dontcallitbollywood

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