Home Entertainment Stories told through a strong lens — the new winning formula

Stories told through a strong lens — the new winning formula

Stories told through a strong lens — the new winning formula

Madgaon Express may well have been a poor man’s Dil Chata Hai. But Kunal Kemmu’s directorial debut starring Pratik Gandhi, Avinash Tiwary and Diveynndu has had the producers Farhan Akhtar and Ritesh Sidhwani laughing all the way to the bank. As critics laud it for bringing good old comedy back to screens, the film has minted over Rs 4 crore in ticket collections.

At first glance, this may seem minimal in comparison to the big-ticket releases, whose first-day footfall may exceed a small-budget film’s lifetime in the theatres. But there’s more to it than that. “One needs to believe in a story, form an emotional connection; you know these characters exist, and that’s the starting point. If you are going to get into the math of it, then you should not make films. Movie business is unpredictable, sometimes the biggest film fails to connect, there are no second chances in this business,” Ritesh Sidhwani had said in an interview.

In this context, one cannot help but recall a statement made by an industry insider on the eve of the release of Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s 12th Fail. “Who will go to the theatres to pay for a Vikrant Massey Film?”

Well, the film was lauded by fans and critics and earned `60 crore at the box office – that’s three times its budget of Rs 20 crore. It also set the ball rolling for other low-to mid-budget films like All India Rank and Kiran Rao’s Laapta Ladies to seek a theatrical release rather than being directly released on OTT.

Fighter, Yodha… struggle

For Bollywood, the first quarter of 2024 has been a mixed bag in comparison to 2023, when Shahrukh Khan’s Pathaan set a new box office record of Rs 500 crores. Hrithik Roshan’s Fighter did not exactly soar, and with its lifetime collection of Rs 252 crore, did not meet the expectations of distributors and was a loss to its producers. While Shahid Kapoor’s Teri Baaton Mein Uljha Jiya managed to recover its investment cost, making Rs 87 crore, so did Ajay Devgn’s Shaitaan with Rs 124 crore. Sidharth Malhotra’s Yodha only raked in Rs 26 crore and is struggling to maintain its screens.

On the other hand, Article 370 has raked in Rs 79 crore and strong word of mouth helped Laapata Ladies get into the black with collections of Rs 13 crore, covering its production costs.

Paid reviews… PR tricks do not work

The industry is known to take recourse to inflated box office returns and paid reviews, but has realised these are exercises in futility. Thank You For Coming, which was plugged as the first female sex comedy, proved that titillation and double entendre don’t work anymore.

An industry insider says, “The coming of streaming platforms and the struggle to get audiences back to screens has proved that none of these methods can help run a film. Even though producers, stars and their PR machinery may resort to these tactics, they are futile. The audience is way too discerning now, and quick to call out a bad film.”

Trade Analyst Sumit Kadel says “The first quarter of 2024 may be a bit weak in comparison to 2023. But the year has been encouraging, as films beyond the action genre and narratives which are not necessarily driven by big-ticket stars are also drawing in audiences. It is an encouraging time for producers, distributors and the industry to create diverse content.”

The success of Article 370 starring Priyamani and Yami Gautam, and Laapata Ladies headlined by virtually unknown female actors go towards making the case that content matters.

“A strong lens and narrative are required. The audience is exposed to a lot and no longer wants to waste their time or money on meaningless content even if led by the brightest stars,” says an industry expert.

Meanwhile, expectations are running high for the heist comedy Crew, starring Tabu, Kareena Kapoor Khan and Kriti Sanon. Going by the trailers, this too appears to be a film that’s banking on good looking actors, sexy attire, sizzling songs… Will it work? Will have to wait and watch.