Biz Talk: Desi entertainers rule!

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In the 1970s, when multi-starrers were a norm, Amitabh Bachchan, Rajesh Khanna, Dharmendra, Vinod Khanna, Shatrughan Sinha, Jeetendra and Rishi Kapoor had a new film hitting the marquee *every few weeks*. And, believe it or not, a majority of these films would hit the bull’s eye. The ratio of successful movies was at an all-time high then.

That set me wondering… Has the star power diminished with each decade? The stars that rule the roost today prefer to work in a limited number of films. A substantial gap between two movie releases is a must, they echo. Overexposure, in terms of film releases, is a strict no-no. Makes me wonder, what if Aamir, Salman, SRK, Akshay, Hrithik, Ranbir, Ranveer and Varun have a new film arriving every 3/4/5 weeks? Will these films lure the audience in hordes, like their peers so confidently achieved in the 1970s?

Times have changed, indeed! Clashes were a commonality in 1970s and 1980s, but it raises eyebrows nowadays. Today, two or more films staking a claim on the same date results in heated discussions within and outside the film fraternity. The industry gets divided there and then. This year, the clash of the giants [RAEES and KAABIL] created a lot of noise. Now SRK’s forthcoming film [with Imtiaz Ali] will lock horns with Akshay’s TOILET EK PREM KATHA. The ‘fan war’ on social media has already erupted. And I foresee this happening every time two biggies clash on the same date.

The first quarter of 2017 has just concluded and I feel, the outcome is *slightly* better as compared to previous years. We have had a few successes, which brought cheer in an otherwise grim and gloomy scenario. Desi entertainers were lapped up in a big way [JOLLY LLB2 and BADRINATH KI DULHANIA], while star power helped attract footfalls [RAEES and KAABIL]. But isn’t it ironical that the biggest disappointment was also a star-studded affair [RANGOON]?

A new trend seems to have emerged these days. Barring a film or two, a majority of films, starring known names, failed to embark on a healthy start at the ticket window. The biz gathered steam from Friday evening onwards, while the sustainability on Saturday and Sunday was solely dependent on the word of mouth and merits of the film/s. Amassing a big, fat total on Saturday and Sunday is a humongous achievement, frankly. Also, content [of the film] and connect [with the paying public] are of paramount importance.

A few prominent names are of the opinion that the frightfully expensive ticket rates are keeping a chunk of the audience away from cineplexes. Piracy is another thorny issue that’s made a dent in film business. Also questionable is the quality of most movies that are churned out nowadays. Hollywood’s penetration into the Indian market is also giving nightmares to dream merchants in Bollywood.

Genuine concerns, I agree, but here’s my rejoinder: Didn’t DANGAL release amidst demonetisation and all of the above? Most importantly, did the currency crunch hinder its run at the ticket counters? DANGAL emerged the highest grosser of Hindi cinema, setting new benchmarks at the BO, didn’t it? Let’s not forget, a good story, backed by star power and innovative marketing of course, will always find takers

– Bollywood Hungama News Network