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Is the Hindi film industry heading towards doom?

Hindi films doomed

Tickets @ Rs 30, multiplexes shutting down for a week or partially running. A large multiplex chain offering tickets for four films at Rs 349 working out to Rs 90 per film. The latest being a top OTT platform offering unlimited movies, entertainment, sports and lifestyle for just 30 Rupees a month. One rupee per day! Hindi film industry….

Bollywood has been facing several challenges in recent years. While it may not be accurate to say that it is entirely doomed, there are significant issues it needs to address. Here are some key indicators that Narendra Gupta, Film Critic & Trade Analyst points out to

Narendra Gupta Trade AnalystCinema halls across the country have been shut down and the usually flourishing Box office has now been destroyed with some of the theatres being locked down. This could lead to extinction of theatrical business for Hindi films.

Let us go back into the recent past during the year 2020 it was COVID-19 that played havoc. But it seems that Bollywood is still plagued with COVID-19 as during the last 4 years, barely 4-5 films had done a 500 crore business as claimed by the studios, though some analysts still doubt the figures. This fake bubble has burst during this Eid with the dismal performance of the big budget films in 2024.

Every superstar desires that his film does big business in cinema halls to enhance his market value, but the fact is that only a handful of films have clicked at the Box Office post the pandemic leaving the superstars biting the dust. The modus operandi of production houses is to release figures of star-studded films with over-inflated BO collections. The reality is that the industry has come to the brink of devastation.

During this Eid it was hoped that at least a couple of films with Akshay-Tiger’s Bade Miyan, Chote Miyan budgeted at 350 crores and the other film starring Ajay Devgn (Maidaan – 250 crs)

What is pathetic is that in their first 12 days of run, the business of these two films has not even reached 100 crores with the makers fetching net 50 crores only. Interestingly, these films were sold at high prices to the OTT platforms who could insist on paying lower price for these films.

Producer Vasu Bhagnani and his son Jacky Bhagnani shared a video that went viral claiming Bade Miyan Chote Miyan could cross business of 1100 crores worldwide. The fact was that at some places the first shows on the first day of their film were cancelled as there was no audience. A marketing gimmick of One ticket free on one ticket or flat Rs 99 per ticket even didn’t enthuse the cinemagoers.

The next week saw the release of two other films Do and Do Pyaar (Pratik Gandhi and Vidya Balan) and Ekta Kapoor’s LSD 2. These films too met the same fate while LSD’s first weekend collection was only 50 lakh whereas the cost of the film is 20 crores.

Do aur Do Pyaar did a business of only 2 crores during it’s weekend compared toe the cost of the film that was 40 crores.

What brought some respect to the Bollywood Industry’s box office collections were the films Article 370, Madgaon Express, the Hollywood release Godzilla and Kung Fu Panda.

Producers are signing film stars for 50 crores – 100 crores for creating corporate proposals without concentrating on the quality of the content. OTT platforms are merrily lapping up these proposals, but the losers seem to the the Exhibitors.

Manoj Desai owned Galaxy Theatre in Bandra was closed for a week. A handful of viewers could be seen in the hall with a capacity of 800. Wisely the film Maidaan was shifted to Gemini Cinema which has capacity of 238 as there were hardly 4-5 viewers coming to watch the film.

It is being said in the industry circles about an exhibitor having 100 screens is thinking to commit suicide as he is facing liquidity crisis for paying the staff salary, water charges, electricity.

Several multiplexes in the Hindi film industry either are closed for 4-8 weeks from 19th April and there are cases of some multiplexes having 5 screens are running in 1 or 2 screens only.

Eros Cinema in South Mumbai, pioneering the IMAX format in Mumbai also has also been shut down for a week, probably for this reason.

One theater in Agra, Rajeev Cinema has lowered it’s Rear Stall ticket rates to Rs 30, many multiplexes are offering discounts ranging from Rs 100 flat to Rs 150 per ticket. Mukta Arts’ New Excelsior Cinema  is offering a ticket for Rs 110, while the national chain of PVR and INOX has not yet reduced the rate however they have come up with an offer of PVR INOX Passport offering 4 movies for Rs 349.

Despite such inviting efforts the audience is not ready to enter the theaters. It is not very far if any cinema chain could come up with an offer for the whole family offering popcorn and Pepsi on a ticket of Rs 99.

It is ironic that despite the summer holiday season the people are reluctant to go to cinema halls as usually this is the time they should have ought to.

Our smart Bollywood filmmakers are reluctant to release their movies during this election period though during the last elections it was Avengers, Dede Pyar De, Two States, Main Hoon Na, Spiderman movies that were released and had successful run at the Box Office with them doing a business of Rs 100-200 crores.

The bleak outlook for the industry gains further momentum as there is a lull of almost 2-3 months for the release of any big film. Kalki (starring Prabhas) was supposed to be released on 9th May. Varun Dhawan’s Baby John was initially scheduled to be released on 31st May and Rohit Shetty’s Singham Again was supposed to be released on 15th August. Now it is believed that the release of these three big ones have been postponed.

Though there is a talk of Ruslaan to release this week, Kangana Ranaut’s Emergency and Karthik Aryan’s Chandu Champion slated for release on 14th June. However industry insiders say that perhaps the release of these two will also be postponed.

It would be interesting to see if the Kamal Hassan Starrer movie Shankar is released on 2nd June and to see of Akshay Kumar’s Sarfira and John Abraham’s Vedaa would be released on 12 July. As one thing is certain that on 15th August Allu Arjun’s Pushpa 2 is to be be released and then around Diwali we could see Karthik Aryan’s Bhool Bhulaiyaa 3 and Ajay Devgn’s Raid 2 to release on 15 November. Christmas could see Aamir Khan’s Sitare Jameen Par to hit the cinema halls.

That leaves hardly 5-7 films that could do decent business at the Box Office while for the others the Box Offices are facing a blank for the Hindi film industry.

A positive indication is that there are several small budget films that are being released in the next 2-3 months. Salman Khan’s brother in law Ayush Sharma’s film Ruslaan and there is Sabarmati Express featuring Vikrant Messi. Trailers of these 2 films were impressive.

Promos of Rajkummar Rao’s Srikanth are very good and it is expected to release on 10th May with Deepak Tijori’s Tipppsy.

Will these small films face the competition from Manoj Bajpayee’s Bhaiyya Ji? Every individual film will fare only on the basis of its content.

Past 4 years of the Hindi film industry have witness the flow of unimpressive films that this is the sole reasons of Multiplexes facing the heat.

So what is the solution? Quality of the films have to be much better. Whereas a Shahrukh or Salman’s film assures you of a good opening, it is very important to pay attention to the content of the film.

It is high time that the Superstars reduce their fees so that a film with good content could be made at a decent cost that could change the economics of the Box Office. Even if there is a new actor in it.  Stars should reduce their rates.

Impact of the Streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime has affected Bollywood’s traditional dominance. Younger generations view many Bollywood movies as outdated and unfashionable, leading to a decline in its allure.

While the industry faces challenges, it continues to produce films and evolve. Whether it can adapt to changing trends and regain its former glory remains to be seen.

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