With Uri, Kabir Singh, War, Mission Mangal, has 2019 been unprecedented for Bollywood as compared to previous years?
As Ravi Shankar Prasad cites War, Joker and Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy's box office figures to underscore the 'soundness' of Indian economy, comparing films from previous years to inspect the validity of his statement
Union Law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Saturday, 12 October, rejected reports of economic slowdown, underscoring how three films earning a whopping sum of Rs 120 crore indicates that the Indian economy is "sound," after all. The films Shankar were referring to are War, Joker and Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy.
(Read: War box office collection: Hrithik Roshan, Tiger Shroff's film earns Rs 276 crores in 2 weeks)
“On October 2, three movies were released. Film trade analyst Komal Nahta said that the day saw earning of over Rs 120 crore, a record by three movies. Economy of country is sound, that is why there is a return of Rs 120 cr in a day (sic),” he was quoted as saying by Asian News International. Although Prasad retracted his statements later, it has incited several studies and analyses into movie economics.
While India's factory output slipped into negative territory for the first time in more than two years in August, budgets for Indian films have displayed a steady growth, ever since SS Rajamouli’s two-part Telugu epic Baahubali: The Beginning (2015) and Baahubali: The Conclusion (2017) reared mammoth numbers at the ticketing counters. In many cases, the budgets of these films have been directly proportional to their earnings. If one were to look at the list of most expensive Indian films made ever, many of these films have been made in the last three to four years.
2.0 (2018) has been made on a budget of Rs 570 crore, Saaho (2019) had a Rs 350 crore budget, Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy (2019) was made on a Rs 270 crore budget, Baahubali: The Conclusion (2017) with Rs 250 crore and Thugs of Hindostan (2018) with Rs 220 crore. Most of these films have fared exceptionally well at the box office.
2019 has been a year of commercially successful films. From Kesari and Uri: The Surgical Strike to the contentious Kabir Singh and now War, films have made and broken several records this year. But does the overall wellbeing of the film business automatically indicate that 2019 films have fared better than that of previous years? Perhaps not.
Take a look at the highest-grossing Bollywood films ever domestically. Dangal (2016) tops the list with Rs 387 crore. In fact, both 2018 and 2019 have released three films each that are enlisted under the top 15 highest-grossing Hindi films in India. 2018 witnessed humungous monetary success with Sanju (Rs 342.53 crore), Padmaavat (Rs 305.15 crore), Simmba (Rs 240.31 crore), while 2019 movies War, Uri: The Surgical Strike and Kabir Singh have also sold countless number of tickets, raking in Rs 276.40 crore, Rs 245.36 crore and Rs 278.24 crore, respectively. However, none of these films have been able to amass more than Rs 300 crore at the box office, which several other films from the previous years — Dangal, Sanju, 2017's Tiger Zinda Hai (Rs 339.16 crore), 2014's PK (Rs 337.70 crore), 2015's Bajrangi Bhaijaan (Rs 320.34), among others — have managed to surpass.
Even if the global gross figures are taken into account, many films from previous years have performed better at the box office than films released this year. As opposed to Dangal (Rs 2024 crore), Baahubali: The Conclusion (Rs 1,810 crore), 2015 film Bajrangi Bhaijaan (Rs 969.06 crore), the only film of 2019 that has scored the big bucks worldwide is Saaho, minting Rs 424 crore.
Hence, it is perhaps an erroneous judgement on Prasad's part to state that the economy is sound because three films on a single day have shown unprecedented performance at the theatres.
(Also read: Ravi Shankar Prasad's remarks on movie collections spark row: Economist slams 'simplistic explanations' used to deny slowdown)
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