Woo-hoo! The section where we all know ALL the movies!!!! And also, now I am done. With this tedious somewhat obscure topic. No idea what to cover next. Is it time for Sanju Baba yet? When’s that movie coming out? (Part 1 here, part 2 here, part 3 here, part 4 here)
Non-Usual Disclaimer: This list is from Wikipedia, blame them not me!
This is the era in which the numbers become increasingly unreliable. Well, they were always unreliable, but at least back in the early years they were unreliable thanks to films that have been forgotten by history, or bad reporting in the past. Now they are inaccurate thanks to political agendas and so on in the present, so I KNOW they are unreliable and feel a bit guilty about reporting them. For instance, I am fairly sure that Gadar should be on this list, probably at the top of this list, and yet it has mysteriously disappeared.
2001: Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham (Karan Johar): Karan again! And also Shahrukh again. This is why he is the Baadshah. Salman and Aamir have had a good run lately, but nothing like Shahrukh at the turn of the century. 1995 to 2005, he was tops every year except for bowing out to Aamir in 96 (Raja Hindustani) and Salman in 1999 (Hum Saath Saath Hain). 135.53 crore (equivalent to 378 crore)
2002: Devdas (Sanjay Leela Bhansali): Shahrukh again! And Bhansali’s sole appearance on this list. Also, according to some records this is a Red Chillies production. I don’t think it is, but I think Red Chillies may own the rights now. And this is not the last of their films we will see pop up. But be aware, Shahrukh is also not the only Khan to make an appearance on this list as producer as well as star. Oh, and for all the hype about Devdas at Cannes, and as the “most expensive film ever”, notice that it was a significant drop from Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham‘s profits. This is why I say NEVER GIVE BHANSALI MONEY!!!! He will just lose it. 99.87 crore (equivalent to 267 crore)
(The lamp and finger paint budget alone, out of control!)
2003: Kal Ho Na Ho (Nikhil Advani): Really, this is another Karan-SRK film. Karan wrote it, produced it, was there every moment. Nikhil had his own touches, he is very handy with a montage type thing, but it’s mostly Karan. And it’s a drop from their last collaberation, as all films were a drop since then. Again, a reminder that one good box office film doesn’t mean the box office will stay that good. 86.09 crore (equivalent to 222 crore)
2004: Veer-Zaara (Yash Chopra) Shahrukh again! And a little higher than his take last year, while still nowhere near K3G. There’s a reason it’s still a social touchstone. But, on the other hand, nice to see Yash Chopra still has it! This will be his last appearance on this list, but what’s really impressive is that it is almost 40 years after his first appearance. I don’t think there is another actor or director or composer or anything else who managed to make 3 films spread out over 40 years and each one perfectly targeted to their respective eras. 97.64 crore (equivalent to 242 crore)
2005: No Entry (Anees Bazmee) Well this is depressing! Lowest film on the list so far. And I’m kind of stunned it’s here at all. No Entry? Really? Salman is great, but that’s only like 5 minutes of the movie. 74.14 crore (equivalent to 176 crore)
2006: Dhoom 2 (Sanjay Gadhvi) And BAM! We’re back! Nice big box office. And a new era of film. We are beyond stars now, we are into concepts. Dhoom 2 has Abhishek, Uday, Hrithik, Aish, Bipasha. But do any of them really get credit for it being a hit? And should they? No, not really. And nor should the director, who went on to nothing after this. It’s all about the Big Idea, the concept of it all. 151.39 crore (equivalent to 340 crore)
2007: Om Shanti Om (Farah Khan) Technically a Shahrukh film, but really another Big Concept film. Yes, Shahrukh carried it (and put up the money to produce it), but it’s about the songs and the colors and the nostalgia as much as his star power. It also is the start of a good consistent run of growth at the box office, thanks to the sudden multiplex explosion artificially increasing box office. 149.87 crore (equivalent to 317 crore)
2008: Ghajini (AR Murgadoss) And Aamir arrives! In a very odd kind of film to do well in India. An action film with a twisty plot. Great songs though. And, come to think of it, if we look back over the whole history of this list, there have always been those random thriller type films with solid plots that land at the top. Not often, but routinely every 5 or 10 years. 200 crore (equivalent to 390 crore)
2009: 3 Idiots (Rajkumar Hirani) And here we have the game changer! A solid film with a family friendly and yet complicated plot, great songs, and all around great performances. Plus some serious star power. Fully deserved to be the best film of the year and the standard all other films tried to meet. 200 crore (equivalent to 390 crore)
2010: Enthiran (S. Shankar) THE SOUTH RISES!!!!! This is not a list of top box office of Hindi films, this is just straight up top box office in India. And for the first time (but not the last), a southern film made it to the top. There’s a lot of stuff going on here, the film itself of course, with a massive special effects focus that translates across all languages. Plus bringing in the all India stars Aishwarya Rai and AR Rahman to help out. And Rajnikanth’s huge following to help with the publicity. But there’s also just the changing dynamics of the industry. Southern films could be distributed nationally, this one was dubbed into Hindi for the national release, various changes that had been coming along since at least Roja back in the 90s broke through all came to fruition here. 289 crore (equivalent to 454 crore)
2011: Bodyguard (Siddique) Another southern film! Sort of. I was just talking about how the Telugu box office is dropping off for action films and it might be something the Hindi box office should pay attention to. This is why. Enthiran/Robot was a southern film, Bodyguard is a remake of a southern film, and next year is another action film with a slight southern touch to it. 234.39 crore (equivalent to 338 crore)
2012: Ek Tha Tiger (Kabir Khan) Yash Raj is back!!!! Considering they are the largest studio in India, it’s sort of amazing how rarely they show up here. Distributed both Kuch Kuch and K3G, produced and distributed Veer-Zaara, and now produced and distributed Ek Tha Tiger. They just need one big solid hit every 5 years or so to help fund all the other things they are doing. 320 crore (equivalent to 422 crore)
2013: Dhoom 3 (Vijay Krishna Acharya) Yash Raj again! Getting greedy I guess. Or else trying to make sure they can set up all the little films they have planned to release. 585 crore (equivalent to 696 crore)
2014: PK (Rajkumar Hirani) Have I mentioned the concept thing recently? Here it is again. Sure, Aamir is the star and does a great job. And Anushka and Sushant Singh Rajput is there as well. But it’s really the concept that sells the film more than the star. At least to the audience, it was the star that sold the film to the backers I am guess. 792 crore (equivalent to 886 crore)
2015: Bahubali: the Beginning (Rajamouli) All hail Karan Johar! No matter what, this film was going make a lot of money. But it just barely edged to the top of the list thanks to Karan’s Hindi dub wide release. The second highest film, Bajrangi Bhaijaan, is right behind it. And is very different and yet not different. Both films have a great story (written by the same scriptwriter), and the kind of story and content in general that anyone can grasp from 6 to 60. 650 crore (equivalent to 687 crore)
2016: Dangal (Nitesh Tiwari) I just flat out do not believe this number. There’s too many reasons people want it to be true (respectable patriotic unthreateningly feminist film with “international” quality production values and an international studio). I believe it was the top film of the year, absolutely. I just don’t see how it could make quite THIS much money. 1,979 crore
2017: Bahubali: The Conclusion (Rajamouli) Ta-da!!! The first film to break Mughal-E-Azam‘s record (adjusted for inflation). And this time I absolutely believe the figure. It was 3D and Imax and multiplex, which drove up the cost of some of the individual tickets. And do you know anyone in India who DID NOT see this movie? Which drives up the pure number of tickets sold. But, see, except for multiplex, none of that is true of Dangal. Which is why I don’t believe that figure, and I am giving Bahubali the crown as Most Successful Indian Film Ever. 1,700 crore
Here’s one thing I started noticing on this list. The big big hits are sometimes followed by sudden low periods. Which might explain what we are seeing right now post-Bahubali. The audience is tired of films which aren’t Bahubali, and the industry is scrambling to figure out where they are. So there is a growing period. And then other times, the big hits are followed by a kind of plateau as everything tries to follow them, to give the audience “just what you liked before but slightly different” instead of breaking new ground.
Since 2006, adjusted for inflation, there has been a small steady increase every year in box office. But then there was this massive leap in 2017 (and 2016, but again, I don’t believe it). Which means either we will have a period of imitation products which get similar but less box office. Or we are heading for a decline as the audience and industry adjusts. And right now it is looking like a decline.