Why is Bollywood failing to create magic on screen?
Movies of A-lister stars such as Aamir Khan, Akshay Kumar, Salman Khan, and Ajay Devgn have failed to create any sort of interaction in the last few years. Not one movie by these superstars has proved to have a decent opening in theatres. All the while Tollywood Movies continue to climb the ladder one at a time. Why? Movies like Sooryavanshi, 83, Jersey, Shamshera, or Prithviraaj badly failed at the box office. But as Bollywood continues to disappoint, multiplex ad revenue is hitting an all-time low.
Despite the good performance of regional movies, the box office collections of theatres depend on Bollywood. It contributes to around 60% of total collections. Bollywood movies were also the highest-grossing movies in 11 of the 16 pre-Covid quarters. But the last two quarters shattered this dynamic completely. PVR and Inox have gained in footfalls due to the success of South movies, but Bollywood is their livelihood.
Though the last quarter of 2022 saw two massive hits by Telugu movies RRR and KGF Chapter2, including the previously released Allu Arjun’s Pushpa. Their stellar performances at the box office gave maximum profit yet just 2 hits in a year couldn’t attribute to the revenue cinema houses used to create. However, the success of these movies indicates a shift in customers’ preferences. There was a time when wild action scenes (a common factor of South Cinema) were considered cliché, but today those same scenes are shattering box office records.
Will Bollywood gain similar success if they replicate such cinematography?
“When I read the reviews of KGF, I’m like if we made this, we would be lynched. But here, everybody is like ‘Oh it was a celebration, a party and it was. It’s working both ways. I feel we are also not given any kind of leeway and then we are trying to be somebody else. So, we are all over the place. We are living a dual existence and we must stop,” told Karan Johar in an interview.
A total of 40% of India’s income is dependent on Bollywood, as well the unexpected yearly growth rate ranging between 10% to 20%. According to several analysts, Bollywood is rated as the second most important domain for India’s growth. Bollywood accounted for 15% of India’s overall earnings in 2009. The industry is estimated to generate a total gross output of INR 349k cr. In such a situation, trending hashtags boycotting Bollywood could mean the downfall not just of the entertainment industry but also of the Indian economy.
Such social sentiments saw a massive rise since the lockdown, especially after the death of young Indian actor Sushant Singh Rajput. Several fans not only condemned his death but also started campaigns that are strong enough to hamper box office collections. With each new movie released every Friday, a hashtag starts trending to boycott Bollywood. Such has been the impact that since last two years, #BoycottBollywood has been on the top of the charts so much that the movies couldn’t even last a day. A major example of this is Kangana Ranaut’s Dhakkad.
Though it is not correct to blame the audience for the ongoing cinema shift, a major change is seen in the viewers that now weighs more on content rather than anything else. Movies that gave good content such as Bhool Bhulaiya 2 and Kashmir Files did receive the applause they needed; however, their success could too not match what such movies used to earn a decade ago.
Laal Singh Chaddha scheduled to release later this month is also facing a similar backlash. The campaign to boycott Aamir and Kareena’s ambitious project started even before the trailer was released. Apparently, viewers have dug up some dirt from the past that is now acting as fuel to keep this campaign ignited. Despite the massive counter-campaign by Aamir Khan’s fans, it is unlikely that it will create any difference. However, it is sad and unethical that movies are judged badly even before people watch them.