B-Town's First Quarter Lacks Kick
During the lockdown, OTT streaming content remained the subject of discussions on social media.
The first quarter of the year held a great promise for the film industry to level up with the pre-Covid-19 times and return to the good old normal days when a pandemic did not run your life or, rather, restrict it. For various reasons, though, the film industry has not been able to realise that promise.
Ever since the exhibition trade re-opened post-pandemic, initially with restrictions of limited capacity, there was a sigh of relief. The exhibitors were back in business after almost two years of uncertainties. Since then, however, the films made for the Hindi audience are not working as expected. And it is not because they are remakes of South films. Because, South films dubbed in Hindi are doing better than they ever did.
Somewhere during the lockdown, the viewer has come to terms with certain things, starting with content being most important. OTT platforms filled the gap and continued to provide entertainment when the cinemas were shut. On streaming platforms, there were quite a few big successes and most of them did not boast of big stars. In fact, OTT serials that succeeded featured either newcomers, or actors who were not getting assignments in films any longer, or those who played character roles in films. Somehow, even on OTT platforms, some of the films with big stars failed to find favour with the viewer!
Then, the cinemas reopened at 50 per cent capacity to start with and are now allowed to operate at full capacity. To their relief, the cinema chains had a lineup of films due for release. We saw no major release in January. February saw the release of 'Badhaai Do' and 'Gangubai Kathiawadi'. The former just about managed to touch double-digit collections (in crores) and 'Gangubai Kathiawadi' just could not justify the hype around it. The claimed collection figure for it is about Rs 118 crore, but the trade puts it at about Rs 80 crore!
Amitabh Bachchan's 'Jhund' again remained a non-starter, barely managing to cross the double-digit marK with about Rs 12 crore. Much was expected of 'Bachchhan Paandey', being a remake of the Tamil film 'Jigarthanda' (which, in turn, had been inspired by a South Korean film) and an Akshay Kumar-starrer at that! The film failed to get a decent opening and had to be withdrawn from many cinemas or the number of shows allotted to it curtailed. It could not cross even the Rs 50 crore mark, thereby qualifying to be rated as a disaster.
The first quarter belonged to just one film, 'The Kashmir Files'. A small film with senior character actors playing the protagonists, it has stirred up the biggest political debate in the country and its after-effects are being felt nationwide. And, it did not let the box office down either. As the days went by since its release on limited screens, the film added not only more screens and therefore footfalls, but also touched Rs 240+ crore in Indian theatrical releases by Week 3.
Hindi filmmakers tend to remake South films, some even buy rights to movies that are many years old. Why do they fail? Take the recent example of 'Bachchhan Paandey', a major disaster. The reason is that you do not have decent writers in the Hindi film industry, and you also don't seem to have rewrite people who can capture the essence of the original!
During the lockdown, OTT streaming content remained the subject of discussions on social media. Sadly, not much has changed since the resumption of new releases. The only release that has dominated social media is 'The Kashmir Files.
So, what has happened in the first three months of 2022 is that the box office take-home so far has been just about Rs 350 crore, against Rs 850 crore to Rs 900 crore before the pandemic. A third of the normal business. IANS