Fukrey Returns, Golmaal Again and Judwaa 2's success proves 2017 was the year of sequels
The top three highest Hindi grossers of this year are sequels — Baahubali 2: The Conclusion, Golmaal Again and Judwaa 2.
The sequel has been a go-to bet for Bollywood for a while now but when you realise that three of the top ten grossing films of the year were sequels, you know that the genre is only getting stronger with the passage of time.
As yet another sequel, Fukrey Returns, rings in big money at the box office and could also become the latest to join the Rs 100 crore club, you know that genre has almost become synonymous with ‘safe’ for the industry and is here to stay.
The year’s biggest hit is a sequel, Golmaal Again (300 cr approximately worldwide), and although this is not the first time sequels have dominated the year; because by comparison, 2013 saw 5 sequels in the top 10 (Dhoom 3, Krrish 3, Grand Masti, Race 2, Aashiqui 2); yet the manner in which 2017 has been dominated by a handful of sequels is indicative of a bigger change.
Besides Golmaal Again, Judwaa 2 and Jolly LLB 2 also made it to the top 10. There was also Badrinath Ki Dulhaniya that made over Rs 200 crore, Naam Shanana, too, made a killing (estimated Rs 56 crore on a supposed budget of just Rs 15 crore — though it is a spin-off, not sequel), and now Fukrey Returns has already been labeled ‘unstoppable’ at the box office. The film has crossed the Rs 30 crore mark in just three days and with no major release this weekend, the film is bound to surpass all expectations.
The formulaic nature of Hindi films, where certain genres or themes such as the lost and found or the slice of life middle cinema of the late 1970s and 1980s, have seen an unsaid set of rules being followed in the bid to come up with a guaranteed hit. The entire south remake sub-industry that flourished across the 1980s not only made money for the producers but also established careers of many actors, writers, music directors, lyricists and even directors.
If one were to take out the south remakes that the likes of Sridevi, Jeetendra, Kader Khan, Jaya Pradha, Asrani, Aruna Irani, Jagdeep, Indivar and Bappi Lahiri were a part of in the 1980s, their filmography would shrink by a quarter. The lack of choice in terms of access to cinema from other parts of India or abroad also helped the advent of this parallel industry and ended up a creating a template that was replicated in an assembly line every time something ticked.
Take for instance the manner in which the Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge (1995) inspired the narrative in Bollywood. Firstly, it split the industry into two halves where largely only two types of films were being made – one that catered to the NRI audience and one that could not care for them but more than that, DDLJ inspired a gamut of films to follow the same narrative where lovers would try to seek the approval of their families (Hero No 1, Hadh Kardi Aapne, Pardes, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and Dil Chahta Hai to name just a few).
The sequel genre today is what the south remake of the 1980s or the action genre of the late 2010s (a redux of the 1980s actions hero). Post Ghajini (2008) and Wanted (2009), every leading man in Hindi cinema worth his salt wanted his own version of the typical action flick. Perhaps this would not have manifested in the manner which it did had Dabangg (2010) not been such a monster hit or both Salman Khan and the character he played receive the kind of adulation that they did from the non-film press. The Bhai magic had entered a new phase and from that point onwards. Every A-list male actor wanted their reprise of it - Ajay Devgn (Singham), Shah Rukh Khan (Raaes, Dilwale), Akshay Kumar (Rowdy Rathore), Ranbir Kapoor (Besharam), Saif Ali Khan (Bullett Raja), Shahid Kapoor (R…Rajkumar), Arjun Kapoor (Ishaqzaade, Tevar) and Ranveer Singh (Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ram-Leela, Gunday).
Keeping the manner in which the majority of popular Hindi cinema works, almost every single hit, whether an original story or a sequel, has a few characters thrown in who could become, for the want of a better expression, their own heroes. Take Pappi Tiwari or Payal Sinha, the roles portrayed by Deepak Dobriyal and Swara Bhaskar in Tanu Weds Manu, Somdev (Sahil Vaid) from Badrinath Ki Dulhaniya or even ACP Jai Dixit from Dhoom — each one of them is a probably capable of being the lead character in a film. With Naam Shabana doing well, one can also see the spin-off becoming the next big thing. In fact, one reviewer even mentioned that if the director of Furkey and Fukrey Returns, Mrighdeep Lamba, were to think of a third installment it would be worth going solo with Choocha, the dreamer essayed by Varun Sharma.
Make no mistake that thanks to Golmaal Again, sequels are now the tent poles. Of course, there will come a time when the audiences might grow wary or not share the same degree of enthusiasm after the fifth or the sixth time but as of now, they are going anywhere. In some way, the sequel, franchise or the reboot or prequel fever has just about started its ascent as far as the Indian films are concerned.
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