2017 Hindi Film Awards: Most Surprisingly Good Film, Editor’s Choice-Running Shaadi

I said there were 4 strong contenders for yesterday’s award, most disappointing.  But there were 5 times as many for this award!  And yet the box office this year was record breakingly bad.  Which says interesting things about what kinds of promotions do and don’t work and what kind of films do and don’t work and so on.

Looking at my list of 2017 films, I was pleasantly surprised after minimal build-up by:

Running Shaadi

Image result for running shaadi

Phillauri

Raabta

Mom

Mubarakan

Bareilly Ki Barfi

Shubh Mangal Saavdhan

Golmaal Again

Ittefaq

Tumhari Sulu

 

That is 10 separate films, none of them with big big name stars, none of which were promoted as “The Can’t Miss Movie of the Year”.  And also none of which had big big box office.  But they were all pleasant interesting enjoyable imaginative films.  They may not have been for every audience, but I am guessing everyone reading this enjoyed at least one if not several of the films on that list, enjoyed them even more than they were expecting to.  Looking at this list, 2017 seems like a pretty darn good year for movies.  Mubarakan and Golmaal Again were solid comedy hits, Ittefaq and Mom were solid well-made and well-acted thrillers, Bareilly Ki Barfi, Shubh Mangal Saavdhan, Phillauri, and Running Shaadi were all nice low-budget clever romances.  Tumhari Sulu was an off-beat character piece, and Raabta was a nice ridiculous over the top romance.

Those are just the films I saw.  Of the films I missed, it sounds like Hindi Medium, Fukrey Returns, Newton, and Anaarkali of Aarah would also certainly fit as interesting enjoyable imaginative films.  So that’s 14 films.  More than one a month.  With a lean towards light romance in a grounded setting that has just a touch of social issues, although also including a mixture of alternative genres.

Image result for anaarkali of aarah

(Don’t know what genre to put Anaarkali in.  Female avenger? Social Justice?  Courtroom drama?)

Looking at this list, 2017 was a GREAT year for film!!!!!!  Lots of good stuff with promising new artists and a nice trend set up for the future.  But the problem is, no one is looking at this list.

The films in yesterday’s post, they suffered from the curse of high expectations.  The publicity campaigns, the wide release, the big name stars, we were ready for something so unusual and remarkable and stupendous that it would be almost impossible for a film to live up to that.  But the flip side of allllllllllll this attention on these few films is that there is no attention on the other films, the little gems that came out this year and somehow slipped in and out of theaters without notice.

I landed on Running Shaadi as my winner because it got the least attention of all of them, but they suffered to some degree all around.  The funny thing is, movies like Mom and Ittefaq and Muburakan made a fair amount of money.  They had a nice tight publicity campaign which reached the right audience and made a nice solid profit.  But I don’t see them mentioned in the end of the year round tables, the discussions of the “problems” with the Indian film box office.  Here is the solution!  Right here!  Smaller films, smaller releases, smaller publicity.  Stop focusing so much on that one big big budget film every year.

Image result for ittefaq poster

(This!!!!  Make more stuff like this!)

Raabta may seem like it doesn’t belong on this list.  After all, it had a big promotion campaign.  But did it really?  That first trailer was great, but then the “Boyfriend” song didn’t give a sense of the actual film at all, and the sort of lightness and humor of it got lost somewhere, overwhelmed by the spectacle.  Ultimately it was another light grounded rom-com, just with some reincarnation sauce dumped on top.  And that message didn’t come through.  Heck, that film didn’t entirely come through!  If it had been toned down about 10%, the audience and critics might have reacted more to the interesting unusual love triangle and less to the over the top action scenes.

Speaking of these smaller movies, I don’t even want to say “stop focusing on the star films”.  Just, stop focusing on the same ones you always look at.  I don’t want to hear “Shahrukh-Raees“, I want to hear “Shahrukh-Dear Zindagi“.  Salman shouldn’t be “Tiger Zinda Hai” only, he should be Phir Milenge too.  And Aamir shouldn’t be “Dangal” only, he should be “Secret Superstar” and “Talaash” too.  It’s only in the past few years that so much pressure was put on each of their releases, that they weren’t allowed to take a risk and try multiple things instead of just one.  And now, when they are starting to buck that trend, when Aamir and Shahrukh at least have tossed in smaller character parts with their big films, those smaller roles are being forgotten by the industry and the press.  Removed from their filmographies in discussion because it doesn’t fit the settled narrative.

Image result for salman khan phir milenge

(Remember when even Salman Khan did small interesting films because he believed in them?)

And that’s what happened to all these films this year. They are ignored because they don’t fit the narrative.  Instead of a narrative of “rise of the small film”, it has become “fall of the big film”.  And that is the narrative that kept these films from being seen.  The audience was so focused on the big films, the promise of Bahubali-like perfection, that they overlooked these small gems.  The ones that did well, should have done a little better.  And the ones that did poorly, like Running Shaadi, should have done a lot better.

Running Shaadi had a terrible ad campaign.  One that was clearly an after thought by the studio, they didn’t think they could sell it for what it was, a slice of life romantic comedy, so they sold it as something else, a crude comedy about an internet start up.  And then it was an after thought by the distributors too, given a pitiful number of screens.  And finally, it was killed by the theaters, who were in a hurry to get rid of it after it failed to bring them the sort of instant massive success they were expecting.  Given time, it could have had a decent word of mouth campaign, found an audience.  Could have found an audience right when it released, if the ad campaign had been right.  And if it had been given a proper release.  But that didn’t happen, and so it floundered.

 

 

By the end of 2017, people were talking about Fukrey Returns, about the “surprising” hit of this small almost unnoticed film.  And shortly before that, Tumhari Sulu benefited from an excellent promotion and release, one which emphasized what was truly special about the film.  I hope that is the trend that continues into 2018, films like Running Shaadi get the right kind of promotion that lets them find an audience and be appreciated and public conversation adjusts to acknowledge that fact.

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15 thoughts on “2017 Hindi Film Awards: Most Surprisingly Good Film, Editor’s Choice-Running Shaadi

  1. Siddharth ruined Ittefaq for me.I had reservations about him even before watching the movie.And he lived down to my worst expectations.The whole time I was thinking “If only it had been Varun or someone else from the younger crowd”.This is the first time that I ever had that thought about replacing a main character while watching the movie.And the mystery wasn’t gripping enough.But the premise was good.Akshay Khanna was the best part about the movie.I’m so glad he’s back.

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    • Akshaye is so wonderful. OH! And we were just talking in the comments about Shahrukh potentially turning into a Lead Character Actor instead of a hero actor and what a unique transition that would be, and I had this vague feeling that there was someone who had done that and I just wasn’t thinking of them. Akshaye! It’s Akshaye! He neatly moved on from being just a boring chocolate hero type, to being this fascinating entertaining character actor who steals the movie.

      On Fri, Jan 5, 2018 at 11:36 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  2. i wanted to watch Running Shaadi..i heard a lot of good reviews about it..i had no faith in Ittefaq..just because it has Akshaye Khanna in it doesn’t mean the rest of the movie will be good..he and his brother are such good actors ..they should be working in more movies..
    Raabta did not care about it..i so wanted to see Phillauri and Newton…Bareilly Ki Barfi was really good..the songs in the movie made me watch it..

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    • That’s what I was thinking! That out of that list of 14 movies, at least a handful would be ones everyone reading would enjoy. So if you didn’t like Raabta and Ittefaq, you would still like Phillauri and Newton adn Bareilly Ki Barfi. There were plenty of good movies that came out last year, enough to please every taste, even if none of them were ones that pleased every single taste. There is this quest for a Bahubali or a Bajrangi Bhaijaan or something like that which absolutely everyone will enjoy. But instead, we should be looking for more of a variety pack approach, make a bunch of different small films and let the audience pick which one they want to see.

      On Sat, Jan 6, 2018 at 1:12 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • oh and Newton and Bareilly Ki Barfi definitely belong to that bunch.Movies like Bareilly Ki Barfi proved that you don’t need a big star cast or intelligent script but just a simple story that is well written with good choice of songs(if any) like in Bareilly Ki Barfi that people can watch and simply enjoy..every movie doesn’t have to be a Bahubali or a Bajrangi Bhaijaan (which i loved) it can also be a good warm hearted movie which is not a big budget star studded hero-centric movie

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        • Exactly! And those movies need a to be appreciated for what they are and given their proper due when they succeed.

          On Sat, Jan 6, 2018 at 2:07 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  3. What’s interesting about most critics’ Worst of 2017 lists is that the movies on their lists might have not met expectations but were not truly bad, most were mediocre to quite good. Previous years had sunny leone and Jackie bagnani and bad sex farce movies. This year’s worst lists include raabta and jhms. If these are the worst movies they can find in 2017, then 2017 should give itself a pat on the back 😀

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    • Excellent point! The big big ones weren’t astoundingly good, but nothing truly bad came out either.

      On Sat, Jan 6, 2018 at 2:04 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  4. I watched Running Shaadi thanks to your positive reviews, and I must say it was not bad, but a little too low-budgety for me. The idea was good, but I wish they had more money to make it better. There was something lacking in this movie, but I’m not sure what.
    I haven’t voted in Most Surprisingly Good category but now that I read your post I decided that for me it was Raabta. Will add it to my votes.

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    • Yaaaaaaay! Glad to hear I wasn’t the only one surprised by Raabta. Terrible promotion campaign, surprisingly pleasant silly little movie.

      On Sat, Jan 6, 2018 at 2:16 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  5. Pingback: New Youtube Video! FINALLY! Sum Up of 2017 Films in All Industries | dontcallitbollywood

  6. Baireilly Ki Barfi for me!! I loved loved loved the movie. What a difference acting talent makes to a movie. I mean I loved Rajkumar Rao (he just can’t do any wrong now). But Aayushman was the pleasant surprise for me. So hard to get a character like that to move you. He’s manipulative and cruel at times. But your heart just goes out to him in the climax. And Seema Pahwa and Pankaj Tripathi were so great, can’t believe she didn’t make it to the round tables.

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  7. Another thing to point out about Running Shaadi is that it came out on the same day as The Ghazi Attack which had more buzz and a better marketing campaign.

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    • Yes! And it wasn’t like Ghazi Attack had a huge promotional campaign, it was a very savvy small campaign, but it was smart and targeted. Unlike Running Shaadi, where the PR people didn’t seem like they had even watched the movie and had no idea what they were promoting or why or to who.

      On Wed, Jan 10, 2018 at 12:38 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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