Flashback 2013: Dhoom:3, Chennai Express made a hit year for Bollywood

It’s that time again when we look back in anger, amusement and pure befuddlement at the workings of the year that’s on its way out. This year was special in many ways. 2013 marked 100 years of Indian cinema and fittingly, there was great variety in Bollywood this year. Reel-life zombies, real-life villainy, a new set of A-listers, surprise hits – 2013 has been one helluva year for the Bollywood so let’s use a quintessentially Bollywood tactic and indulge in some flashback.

In 2012, nine films made Rs 100 crore. This year there saw eight films make that cut and most of them were happy to gently arm-twist audiences into watching the film by making sure that the big budget film was the only release that week. Some producers didn't allow other films to release a week before and in later weeks too, which is what led to a rather public spat between Ekta Kapoor, Shah Rukh Khan and UTV. It's not great news for the movie buff because even if the big release of the week is a great film, it means no choice or variety for the audience. If you want to go to the cinema, there's only one film you can watch. However, the tactic has worked really well for producers so don't expect this to change in 2014.

Technically speaking, there was one less Rs.100-crore film this year than in 2012, but in many ways, 2013 was more of a hit. In January, Race 2 became the first film of 2013 to enter the Rs 100-crore club. It was quickly followed by Aashiqui 2, Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, Raanjhanaa, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, Chennai Express, Grand Masti, Krrish 3, Goliyon ki Raasleela: Ram-Leela and Dhoom:3. Some of these films were quite obviously masala blockbusters that everyone expected would rake in record box office earnings, but what made 2013 a more hopeful year for Bollywood was the discovery that films with limited star power can make money.

Dhoom:3 has made to the list of this year's blockbusters. IBN Live.

Dhoom:3 has made to the list of this year's blockbusters. IBN Live.

There was one thing that Aashiqui 2, Grand Masti, Special 26, Fukrey, Kai Po Che, Madras Cafe, Ship of Theseus and The Lunchbox have in common — these films didn't have to rely upon stars for their success. Special 26 had Akshay Kumar (in a deglamorised avatar that included a moustache and neatly-combed hair), but rather than the macho star, Kumar was part of an ensemble that include Anupam Kher, Manoj Bajpai and Jimmy Sheirgill. Grand Masti starred three washed up actors. Technically, Kai Po Che wasn't a debut for Sushant Singh Rajput, Amit Sadh and Rajkummar Rao (who was then known as Raj Kumar Yadav), but the film proved to be an amazing launchpad that turned these upcoming actors into stars.

2013 offered evidence that the standard formula of star + songs + item number + action sequence isn't the only thing that works with Indian audiences. One could make a film about three loser teenagers or India's involvement in Sri Lankan politics or an ancient Greek paradox, and still be in business. It's heartening to know that the movie-going audiences don't seem to be as obsessed with celebrity as the industry is and that's the silver lining we'll clutch when faced with the uncomfortable truth that movie-going audiences are also voting for the abysmal and offensive screenplays of films like Grand Masti and R...Rajkumar.

On the money front, 2013 will also be known as the year that a hot new club was started in Bollywood: the Rs 200-crore club. Until Chennai Express, there was only one film that could boast of having made more than Rs 200 crore out of domestic earnings — 3 Idiots — and you can't have a club with just one member. Chennai Express, however, made in the range of Rs 211 crore, which isn't as much as 3 Idiots, but it's past the Rs 200-crore hurdle. The success of the Rohit Shetty-Shah Rukh Khan film made Rs 200-crore the new must-have title for big-budget films like Krrish 3 and Dhoom:3.

It's strange that we're so enamoured by box office results when there's no way to verify the numbers that are trumpeted by different trade analysts. Whether an analyst tweets a certain figure or a news channel declares it or a trade magazine prints it, it's impossible to know much a film has actually earned. it all boils down to how much you trust the person or publication giving you the information. There is almost always a difference between the numbers put forward by different agencies and sometimes, like in the case of D-Day, the discrepancy is big enough to raise eyebrows. Another film that may have overstated its earnings is Krrish 3, which according to some reports has earned as much as Rs 255 crore and less than Rs 200 crores according to others.

But whatever the figures, the fact is that in terms of earnings and the kinds of films made, it's been a good year for Bollywood.

Updated Date: Dec 26, 2013 13:27 PM

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