At a budget of Rs 150 crore, Shamshera, one of the most expensive films coming out of the Bollywood stable, is staring at a huge loss. Released last Friday, it had a box-office collection of Rs 20.75 crore for the first two days and going by reports, another Rs 10.5-11 crore on Sunday. The most optimistic scenario for it looks like Rs 65-70 crore at the end of its theatrical run.
Starring Ranbir Kapoor, Sanjay Dutt and Vani Kapoor, this period film going back to the 1800s and India’s fight for independence has left Bollywood bruised again in search of that elusive hit. Over the last few months, there has been a spate of commercial failures such as Attack: Part 1, Heropanti 2, Runway 34, Jersey, Jayeshbhai Jordaar, Dhaakad, Samrat Prithviraj, Anek and Jugjugg Jeeyo. The only hit to speak of has been Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2. Trade analyst, Komal Nahta does not hold back when he speaks of “Bollywood being in the doldrums and in panic mode.”
Shamshera was released across 4,000 screens in the hope it could garner a handsome opening. “The content has to be blamed and this time it was outdated,” says Amit Sharma, MD, Miraj Cinemas, a multiplex chain with 160 screens. As an exhibitor, his challenge is a high fixed cost model and as he puts it, “I have no control over content.” To him, the audience is willing to pay a lot more if the content is good. “We are in a situation where content makers are not able to deliver.”
Taran Adarsh, film critic and trade analyst, says the film with an “A" lister star like Kapoor and director, Karan Malhotra (whose debut project, Agneepath, starring Hrithik Roshan was one of the biggest box-office grossers of 2012) has hardly mattered. “Shamshera has huge production value and big sets but it is a movie without a soul.” To him, the more worrying trend is Bollywood giving that one big hit followed by five flops. “The warning bells are ringing for the Hindi film industry,” he says bluntly.
For Yash Raj Films (YRF), this is a third flop in a row after Jayeshbhai Jordaar and Samrat Prithviraj. “There is no doubt their reputation is badly hit,” says Nahta. One industry insider points out that of the Rs 150 crore budget, Kapoor’s fee was around Rs 15 crore, while Dutt took home another Rs 5 crore. “If you knock off other expenses including marketing and promotion, the production cost is in the Rs 100-110 crore range,” he says. An elaborate set was put up in Mumbai and that with VFX took away most of it.
However, none of the grandeur of a period film is visible in the film and with poor VFX and not great music, it was not going to be easy.” In fact, media reports have said multiplexes in several centres have cancelled shows because of low occupancy.
Film producer and business analyst, Girish Johar, thinks Kapoor’s presence as the lead made no difference. “The audience did not really come to the theatres plus it had very bad reviews,” he says. On what it means for YRF, Johar maintains they have been cornered and there is no option but to go back to the drawing board.
In the midst of this, two other recent Bollywood releases, Shabaash Mithu and Hit: The First Case also tanked. A lot now rides on the Aamir Khan-starrer Laal Singh Chaddha, a remake of the 1994 English film, Forrest Gump (scheduled for a release on August 11 and Brahmastra: Part One – Shiva, a Rs 300 crore project starring Amitabh Bachchan, Ranbir Kapoor and Alia Bhatt. Clearly Bollywood needs success and a lot of it.
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