The rise and rise of Pushpa: How Allu Arjun film's Hindi dubbed version became pandemic's most successful Indian release
'Pushpa’s incredible, sleeper success proves the pan-India Baahubali formula was not a fluke:' trade analysts weigh in on what made the Hindi dubbed version of Allu Arjun's film a bigger box office success than the original Telugu version.
By now, the entire world knows that director Sukumar’s Pushpa: The Rise is a phenomenal success. Originally in Telugu, this Allu Arjun-starrer has accumulated a staggering profit of Rs 40 crore in its dubbed Hindi version.
If the film had not gone to Amazon Prime Video India this week, Pushpa would have shown no fall in its box office figures despite the new wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. What is it that pulled the multitudes out of the relative safety of their homes to the high-risk zone of movie theatres? Trade knowledgeable and fraternity members kick in with their opinions.
Taran Adarsh (leading film trade analyst): "Pandemic era. Non-holiday release [one week before Christmas]. Tough opponents [Spider: Man: No Way Home in Week 1; 83 in Week 2]. Minimal promotions + limited screens/shows. Normal ticket pricing [not enhanced rates]. Pushpa braves it all. What made it so successful? Several factors, in my opinion.
* One, Allu Arjun's popularity and rich fanbase in Hindi market, thanks to the dubbed versions available on YouTube and satellite channels.
* Two, the wholesome content it offers. Complete masala entertainer.
* Three, weak opposition in 83 gave Pushpa ample breathing space to fly high. 83 appealed more to the metros, but Pushpa, with its wholesome content, appealed to metros as well as the Tier-2 and Tier-3 belts.
A well-made masala film will never go out of fashion. Pushpa proved it yet again.”
Nagarjuna (actor, Telugu cinema): “The success of Pushpa: The Rise is indeed an eye-opener for all filmmakers and trade experts, who thought it was too regional in flavour to appeal to a pan-India audience. The fact is Pushpa has done much much better in the dubbed Hindi version than in the original Telugu version. If the box office collections were to be judged by the performance of the Telugu version only, Pushpa wouldn’t qualify as much of a success. How do we explain this phenomenon?”
Adivi Sesh (Telugu actor): “It’s a film made with conviction, without alterations by marketing departments, to cater to a particular set of the audience.”
Mayank Shekhar (film critic): “The mass/masala, theatrical, all-genre entertainer — in parts romance, comedy, action; both extreme heroism and villainy... Hardcore, desi audiences found it in Pushpa, and not 83, for instance. They’d been craving it, evidently.
With regional language dubs, the norm for years on Hindi movie channels, plus access to masala films from the South through OTT/internet, language is seemingly no more the issue.
Bollywood needn’t always bother with remakes of Telugu films in order to bolster Bombay stars for North Indian audiences, as it were (as was the case, say, with Salman Khan for Wanted, or Shahid Kapoor with Kabir Singh).
Pushpa’s incredible, sleeper success proves the pan-India Baahubali was not a fluke."
Suneel Darshan (filmmaker): “Guess it's perhaps a rare Indian film that's unpretentious, unapologetic, hardcore, and not appearing to be a Hollywood/American.”
Atul Mohan(trade analyst): “Opening at Rs 3 crore on Day 1 with limited screens and publicity, and less support by multiplexes, Pushpa: The Rise rose to Rs 80+ crores till date, and that’s phenomenal. Changing the rules of the game post-pandemic, the success of Pushpa proves that the public wants paisa vasool entertainers to lure them to cinemas, and Pushpa delivers all that masala to its paisa-paying audience. The one-liners like "Pushpa jhukega nahi" and "Pushpa is not flower, it's fire" have become a rage among youngsters and we can see its memes online, and all this adds to the craze of the film. Allu Arjun is already popular in Hindi belt thanks to his past dubbed films available on YouTube and satellite channels. Manish Shah of Goldmines, who owns most of the Hindi rights of Allu Arjun-starrers, knew Arjun’s popularity, and is now laughing all the way to the bank.”
Girish Johar (trade analyst): “Despite the SOPs and restrictions across the states, Pushpa has grossed phenomenal numbers not only at the domestic box office but overseas too. It has collected a whopping Rs 300 crore rupees at the global box office, which truly, no one was expecting. Yes, lack of competition did prove beneficial. But it also boasted of the content which the public liked, and which they preferred to enjoy in cinemas. Clearly, it was preferred despite some biggies as opposition because of its presentation, its making, and its writing. The characters simply connected with the audiences. Despite being a simple story, the performances of all the actors truly upped the film. It was clearly the masala entertainer content which audiences were looking for. And surprisingly, despite no major promotions, it has been lapped up by the Hindi audiences as well. Pushpa has firmly put across to the film fraternity that marketing gimmicks will no longer help at the box office, it’s sheer content that counts.”
Pushpa: The Rise is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video India.
Subhash K Jha is a Patna-based film critic who has been writing about Bollywood for long enough to know the industry inside out. He tweets at SubhashK_Jha.
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