From Padmaavat to Hichki, big and small films have co-existed in 2018 — Bollywood Quarter 1 box office report

Devansh Sharma

Apr 27, 2018 12:59:22 IST

(Note: All box office figures have been sourced from Bollywood Hungama)

Last year was a rough one for Hindi cinema as it grappled with low footfalls, short run-times and terrible return on investment. While small films, with modest budgets but quality content, scored over the big budget movies with established stars; the industry was left in a fix — whether to churn out more 'event' films to lure an increasingly Netflix-obsessed audience into expensive theatres, or shift its focus to providing more space for content-oriented cinema that bets low to begin with.

The first quarter of 2018 has proved that there is space for both.

While a couple of small films have fared well, the typical masala potboilers have also made their way back to the top. The same span of January to March last year had only three films that crossed the coveted Rs 100 crore club — Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Raees, Hrithik Roshan-starrer Kaabil and Akshay Kumar-starrer Jolly LLB 2. But 2018 has witnessed a marginally upward trend, with four films entering the crème de la crème of the trade circles.

The first blockbuster of the year was Sanjay Leela Bhansali's period drama Padmaavat. Interestingly, the controversial film was slated to hit theatres on 1 December, 2017 but its release date was 'voluntarily deferred' after troubles with the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) and protests led by Shri Rajput Karni Sena, who alleged 'distortion of historical facts'. Fortunately, the revised release date of 25 January, 2018 worked for the film as it cashed in on the extended Republic Day weekend, and the endless media buzz, to mint money in theatres.

Shahid Kapoor and Deepika Padukone in a still from Padmaavat. YouTube

Shahid Kapoor and Deepika Padukone in a still from Padmaavat. YouTube

Padmaavat, starring Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh and Shahid Kapoor in key roles, became the first and so far the only film to cross Rs 300 crores. However, this includes the regional language versions too, both Tamil and Telugu. Padmaavat earned Rs 24 crore on opening day, despite it not releasing in four states. It went on to earn Rs 100 crores within the first few days and stood at Rs 166.50 crore at the end of its opening week.

In an interesting development, Akshay Kumar, who was scheduled to release his social drama Padman on the same day as Padmaavat (25 January) chose to push it by a couple of weeks and released it on 9 February. Given his 'patriotic' image, the film would have done better business had it released during the Republic Day weekend. But the industry hailed the actor's image, calling it a generous move in order to help the makers of Padmaavat who already had a lot to worry about.

Kumar, along with Padman director, R Balki insisted that they did not want the film's message (of addressing anti-menstrual taboos) to get lost in all the noise around Padmaavat.

Akshay Kumar in a still from Padman/Image from Twitter.

Akshay Kumar in a still from Padman/Image from Twitter.

When the film eventually hit theatres on 9 February, it did not record an opening as high as a mainstream Akshay Kumar-starrer does. The opening day collections halted at Rs 10.26 crore. This could be attributed to the unconventional theme of the film or the lack of an extended weekend leverage or that Padmaavat was still running in full force at the box office. The Kumar, Sonam Kapoor and Radhika Apte-starrer went on to make Rs 81.82 crore. It was the first Akshay Kumar-starrer that remained shy of hitting the Rs 100 crore mark since his 2015 dud, Prabhu Deva's action comedy Singh Is Bling.

While an Akshay Kumar-starrer failed to live up to its trade expectations, a surprise hit was in store for Hindi cinema.

Luv Ranjan's 'bromantic comedy' Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety recorded an impressive Rs 6.42 crore on its opening day, given that it was not being carried on the shoulders of any big star. Starring the Pyaar Ka Punchnama trio of Kaartik Aryan, Nushrat Bharucha and Sunny Singh, the film surpassed the success of the popular comedy franchise and became the biggest hit of everyone involved in its making.

Sunny Singh, Nushrat Bharucha and Kaartik Aryan in a still from Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety

Sunny Singh, Nushrat Bharucha and Kaartik Aryan in a still from Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety. YouTube

It earned Rs 45.94 by the end of its opening week and eventually crossed the Rs 100 crore mark. Currently standing at Rs 108.93 crore, the film challenged the norm in more ways than one. It proved not only that commercial potboilers are here to stay but also that a masala film does not always need established stars to perform exceptionally well at the box office.

The third film that made it to the Rs 100 crore club was Raj Kumar Gupta's Raid, starring Ajay Devgn and Ileana D'Cruz. Coming off fresh from the smooth run of his last hit, Rohit Shetty's 2017 horror comedy Golmaal Again, Devgn proved that he can flex his serious muscle as convincingly as his comic muscle. A procedural thriller, the humour peppered all over Raid, helped it gain a more mainstream approach and run without any hindrance at the box office.

Poster of Raid. Twitter@RaidTheFilm

Poster of Raid. Twitter@RaidTheFilm. Twitter

Raid earned Rs 10.04 crore on its opening day (equal to that of Padman) but gradually picked up pace at the box office, owing to word of mouth. It finished at Rs 102.93, barely making it to the elite club days after Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety achieved the same feat. These parallel movements proved that a film of every genre is welcomed by the audience as long as it offers supreme content.

But even formulaic films enjoyed their niche at the box office. Ahmed Khan's action entertainer Baaghi 2, starring Tiger Shroff and Disha Patani, released at the fag end of the first quarter and took the box office by storm. It enhanced the quarter one report card substantially. After recording a staggering Rs 25.10 on Good Friday, the opening day, it is still dominating the box office in various parts of India. Its last reported collection stands at an impressive Rs 159.45 crore, still only half of the biggest blockbuster of the year in Padmaavat (including Tamil and Telugu versions).

Tiger Shroff in a publicity still for Baaghi 2

Tiger Shroff in a publicity still for Baaghi 2. Twitter

Big ticket releases aside, moviegoers also embraced two women-led small films with quality content. Siddharth P Malhotra's Hichki, starring Rani Mukerji, opened at Rs 3.30 crore on 23 March. But the Yash Raj Films production went on to perform consistently at the box office. Still running in several theatres across India, the film has earned Rs 45.20 crore so far. It has earned more than twice its modest budget of Rs 20 crore, making it a super hit.

A still of Rani Mukerji from Hichki/Image from Twitter.

A still of Rani Mukerji from Hichki/Image from Twitter.

Additionally, Prosit Roy's horror flick Pari, starring Anushka Sharma, also opened at Rs 4.36 crore and earned Rs 28.96 crore in its lifetime. It was a surprise response to a film as niche as this one, particularly because it was a rare horror film led by an A-list actress.

Anushka Sharma in a still from Pari. YouTube

Anushka Sharma in a still from Pari. YouTube

And just like every quarter or year, there were more duds than hits. What is worse is that some of them were backed by big budgets, production houses and promising stars — Sidharth Malhotra-starrer Aiyaary and Saif Ali Khan-starrer Kaalakaandi.

In the next quarter, April to June, huge money and expectations are riding on Shoojit Sircar's October, starring Varun Dhawan, Meghna Gulzar's Raazi starring Alia Bhatt, Vikramaditya Motwane's Bhavesh Joshi Superhero starring Harshvardhan Kapoor, Shashanka Ghosh's Veere Di Wedding starring Kareena Kapoor Khan and Sonam Kapoor, Abhishek Sharma's Parmanu: The Story of Pokhran starring John Abraham, Remo D'Souza's Race 3 starring Salman Khan and Rajkumar Hirani's Sanju starring Ranbir Kapoor.

Updated Date: Apr 27, 2018 12:59:22 IST