Safe & Sound?
Directors, producers and distributors comment on whether commercial, movies are the safest bet for Bollywood filmmakers or not.
Anyone in the trade will tell you that there are no safe bets, just as there is no formula for making a successful film. This was only underlined by the underdog films of last year – films like Hindi Medium, Newton, Shubh Mangal Saavdhan and Bareilly Ki Barfi, which were winners.
But, these films had one thing missing. Despite the critical acclaim and audience appreciation that they received, they did not bring in huge box office numbers. Even those that did well commercially were unable to rack up anything next to the numbers that successful, big-banner films achieve – those larger-than-life commercial, masala entertainers.
Moreover, the recently released Baaghi 2 has taught us that commercial movies are always going to be the first love of the Indian audience. No doubt, viewers are accepting out-of-the-box cinema and new subjects with creative treatment. But, with a masala blockbuster set to release every second month of 2018, it makes us wonder whether commercial is the way to go for filmmakers.
While it is next to impossible to say what does and what does not click with the movie-going audience, one thing is clear – only a successful blockbuster can rake in the really big numbers.
We asked producers, directors, exhibitors and distributors whether commercial, masala movies are the safest bet for Bollywood filmmakers after all.
Bhushan Kumar, Producer
Each of our last four films, Hindi Medium, Tumhari Sulu, Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety and Raid, were of very different genres but each one did exceptionally well at the box office. We believe that a good, entertaining film will always find its audience and reach its potential.
Vijay Singh, CEO, Fox Star Studios
2018 has begun on a fantastic note for the industry. Audiences have been exposed to varied genres of entertainment, from the period classic Padmaavat to Akshay Kumar's social drama Pad Man, Ajay Devgn's Raid to Sajid Nadiadwala and FSS's action entertainer Baaghi 2, which has created an opening day record and raced to the coveted '100-crore mark within 6 days of its release. Just when naysayers were claiming that audiences only want to come to theatres for big, spectacle films, the power of good stories with a point of difference has been reinforced!
Remo D'Souza, Director
We already know that masala movies work more than content-driven films. There are very few content-driven films and those that work do so because they have entertainment value. With so much stress in everyone's lives, no one wants to see something that is not entertaining. Audiences want to see something that will entertain them. That is why I think commercial entertainers work. When people come to see a movie, they want to enjoy themselves, see amazing stunts, they want to get entertained. That is why, not only in India but all over the world, commercial entertainers work.
Mahendra Soni, Director & Co-Founder, SVF
Baaghi 2 has delivered great numbers and it is great news for the industry. There cannot be a single formula for successful films, that it has to be masala commercial to work. The recent pat has unequivocally proved that good films which connect with the audience will undoubtedly work. Dangal and Padmaavat are not hardcore commercial films but they have delivered big time.
I feel there is huge potential in every kind of film, provided it connects with its target audience and is made on budgets that keep the recovery potential in mind. October has been loved by a certain type of audience and it got great reviews too but it will not go down as a hit or a blockbuster film. My point is, expecting it to earn '100 crore is absurd and comparing it with the success of Judwaa 2 is ridiculous. The time has come where filmmakers/studio owners need to be more aware of market dynamics and approach their films in a more strategic manner with respect to not only budgets but a release plan, marketing spends and recovery modules.
Ramesh Taurani, Producer
I don't think there are any safe bets in the movie business. If that were the case, everyone would be making the same kind of films. The movies that you have mentioned have done well at the box office because in some way they have connected with the audience. In my opinion, that's the only way to make a film today. Whether it's a commercial or a content-driven film, it has to entertain the audience. Last year, we saw content-driven films like Shubh Mangal Saavdhan, Bareilly Ki Barfi, which worked at the box office. And for these movies, content was king.
Jayantilal Gada, Producer
Content-driven movies will always work but they have their limitations too. They cannot reach the box office success levels of commercial masala entertainers. Masala films definitely have their place, especially with what Tiger Shroff has done with Baaghi 2. It will open doors for young stars.