Inching closer to the Rs 100-crore revenues in domestic Box Office collections, Hindi film Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 has emerged as bright spot for Bollywood which had yet again fallen into a lull with a string of flops after The Kashmir Files and Gangubai Kathiawadi brought some temporary cheer in February-March.
The horror-comedy starring Kartik Aaryan, Tabu and Kiara Advani, which released on May 20, has made Rs 84.78 crore as of May 25, according to film trade portal Koimoi.com. The portal pegs the film’s gross global collection at Rs 108.53 crore as of May 25. In contrast, Kangana Ranaut-starrer Dhaakad, which also released on the same day, failed to mark at the box office, raking in only Rs 1.4 crore on the first two days, according to the same portal.
This comes after titles headlined by top names such as Akshay Kumar’s Bachchhan Pandey (March 18), John Abraham’s Attack: Part 1 (April 1), Shahid Kapoor’s Jersey (April 22), Ajay Devgn’s Runway 34 (April 29), Tiger Shroff-starrer Heropanti 2 (April 29) and Ranveer Singh’s Jayeshbhai Jordaar (May 13) failed to create magic at the box office.
“Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 has done well and has had a strong word-of-mouth reception and it has really got it right. What’s coming out clearly is that if the content is well curated, people will come to watch it. If you give them anything which is not done well, it will not work,” said Dhishoom Cinemas' CEO Tushar Dhingra. He estimates that the film, reportedly made on a budget of Rs 65-80 crore, will collect at least Rs 125 crore at the box office.
With films like Ayushmann Khurrana starrer-Anek (May 27), Varun Dhawan-starrer Jug Jug Jeeyo (June 24) and R. Madhavan’s directorial debut Rocketry: The Nambi Effect (July 1) lined up for releases, he’s positive about this trend playing out.
When theatres reopened after the Omicron wave, Vivek Agnihotri-directed The Kashmir Files and Alia Bhatt-starrer Gangubai Kathiawadi drew in the Hindi speaking audiences to the theatres, collecting Rs 252.90 crore and Rs 129.10 crore, according to film trade portal Bollywood Hungama. Meanwhile, the record box office collections of Telugu films Pushpa: The Rise and RRR as well as Kannada film KGF Part 2, including their dubbed versions in Hindi, raised questions about Bollywood’s appeal among the theatre-going masses.
Film trade analyst Komal Nahta says one success among 10-15 films is not enough, but Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 working is good enough to show that Bollywood hasn’t lost the plot.
“There’s quite a gap between the collections of the Hindi dubbed versions of the south Indian films and Bollywood films recently. For instance, KGF 2’s Hindi version has crossed Rs 425-crore revenue mark and counting. Baahubali 2: The Conclusion made more than Rs 500 crore in 2017. The only Hindi film to have crossed the Rs 350-crore mark was Dangal in 2016-17. An original Hindi film is at the third spot, while the first two slots are occupied by dubbed versions of south Indian films. That itself is an alarming situation to be in for the Hindi film industry,” Nahta said.
He estimates that Bollywood will have to produce 10-12 really good films (crossing the Rs 100-crore revenue mark for the medium budget films and Rs 200-300 crore revenue mark for bigger budget films) in the remaining seven months of the year to close the gap with what Hindi dubbed versions of the south Indian films have been collecting.
Nahta, however, is wary of writing off Bollywood even if that doesn’t happen. “The success ratio of Bollywood has always been 18-20% every year, ie, for every 100 films released in a year, only 18-20 work. That hasn’t changed over the last few years. These rough patches keep happening. I don’t see the dynamics changing too much because new content will come and big stars, storytellers and producers don’t fade away just like that.”
Both Nahta and Dhingra agree that the script is what ultimately matters. “The writing on the wall is not that Bollywood has lost it meaning or that its content will not work. If you don’t give the right product, however, it will not work. Any badly done story cannot do well because you are talking about the disposable time of the audience. It is unfortunate that the last few Hindi films have flopped, but it is nothing new,” said Dhingra.
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