Last Friday’s mega release Jayeshbhai Jordaar was expected to work due to the presence of a popular actor like Ranveer Singh, concept and the backing of the reputed production house, Yash Raj Films (YRF). Shockingly, the film had a poor opening of Rs. 3.25 crore. It saw a marginal jump and earned Rs. 4 crore on Saturday. On Sunday, it earned Rs. 4.75 and hence, the weekend collections were just Rs. 12 crore. What shocked the industry is that even the other recent films like Runway 34, Heropanti 2 and Jersey had similar kinds of openings and showed no growth.
Jayeshbhai Jordaar debacle: Why are Bollywood films not working? Trade experts share their views; say, “If you make films for the Bandra to Versova audience, you’ll face rejection”
The chief questions on everyone’s minds are – why are Bollywood films not working at all, and how do we get out of this situation? Trade analyst Atul Mohan said, “The audience has changed post lockdown. We make a lot of remakes and they don’t have that novelty value. People have access to the original version or its dubbed version very easily. As a fan, if I find out that Akshay Kumar is doing a remake, then I’ll try watching the original film. This wasn’t the scenario 5 years ago. The awareness was minimal. Nowadays, moviegoers are far more aware. A film like Bachchhan Paandey, for example, would have worked 5 years ago.”
He also said, “Also, the films that didn’t work were not that good, anyway. Runway 34 should have ended at the interval point. The conversations happening in the second half…woh nahi chahiye logon ko. Today, audiences want paisa-vasool fare. Only then, they’ll come to the cinemas.”
Atul Mohan also stated, “Certain films are said to be of Rs. 200 crore. However, it doesn’t look like one. Audiences are left wondering ‘iss film mein Rs. 200 crore kharcha karne jaisa kya tha’. They don’t know that out of the Rs. 200 crore of the budget, Rs. 125 crore has been usurped by the actor. On the other hand, the South’s big budget films do seem justified. They are improving their storytelling and we are remaking their old films. We are not innovating.”
Girish Johar, producer and film business analyst, explained, “Due to the pandemic, the growth that OTT planned to achieve in 5 years, they achieved in 2 years. The audience got a chance to see world-class content from the comfort of their homes. When you are consuming shows like Squid Games, Money Heist etc, then you get addicted. Your tastes change. Then you won’t like substandard films. That’s the reason a film like Heropanti 2 film flopped big time. It just didn’t appeal.”
He continued, “Multiplexes wanted to earn after the lockdown. So they hiked the ticket prices, from Rs. 250-300 to Rs. 450-500. Earlier, if I’d spend Rs. 200 on a ticket and I’d get entertainment worth Rs. 150, I’d still didn’t mind. Now, if I am paying Rs. 400 for content worth Rs. 100 or Rs. 120, then I’d feel cheated! This is a big reason that audiences didn’t go to cinemas for many films.”
Girish Johar then said, “As for course correction, it’s just one film that has to work. It should be that dark house, which no one would expect; which will have a decent Friday and a fantastic Saturday. That could be any film, Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 or Anek or any other film.”
Trade veteran Taran Adarsh emphasized, “The correction lies in the fact that we need to give the audience the content that they could connect with. Didn’t Gangubai Kathiawadi and Sooryavanshi work? But our filmmakers alienate a chunk of the audience and presume that hum jo banayenge, woh audience dekhenge. No, that’s not the case. It’s the audience that will dictate terms. If you make films for the Bandra to Versova audience, you’ll face rejection. You are not even catering to a pan-Mumbai audience, forget pan-India. That’s why you see such horrifying numbers.”
He also thundered, “Also, don’t say that people don’t have money. All restaurants and malls are full. Viewers are shelling Rs. 1500 for Spider-Man and Doctor Strange. They are also spending for KGF and even going for 4:00 am and 5:00 am shows. So, let’s not give such lousy and maha faltu excuses. Aap achhi films doge toh audience aayegi na?”
Vishek Chauhan, owner of Roopbani Cinema in Bihar, sees little hope, “The momentum that Bollywood had has gone. Moreover, the absence from theatres for 2 good years led to the loss of the audience base and destroyed the culture. To rebuild it, Bollywood doesn’t have the tools because the structure has collapsed. Bollywood was neither star-driven, nor content driven, even before Covid. Over the last 10 years, they had successfully dismantled the star system. They had created popular actors. They started making elitist cinema, which pushed away the audiences. Covid took away the momentum, the only thing that was helping them. Hollywood boosted its box office standing with franchises like Marvel, Fast & Furious etc. South industry kicked up the box office with stars. Bollywood has neither.”
He also said, “The industry is still in detail. How will they correct? Who will make commercial films? Except Rohit Shetty and Sanjay Leela Bhansali to an extent, there’s no other filmmaker who knows the pulse of the audiences. Bombay industry needs filmmakers like S S Rajamouli and Prashanth Neel.”
He continued, “By the time they learn how to correct, South and Hollywood would deliver 5 more blockbusters. In short, these industries would continue to grow and flourish. Bollywood, meanwhile, would have to find a way to get back on track.”
Vishek suggested the actors, “Our industry leaders don’t speak Hindi. Bollywood needs to start speaking in the language in which they are making films. There’s a disconnect between the industry and moviegoers, and it’s going to widen over a period of time.”
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