The festival face-off used to be a spectator sport. Now it’s a contest of bland vs bland, with sloppy storytelling all around, Anupama Chopra slams Bollywood.
No fireworks for Bollywood
There were reports earlier that said that Bollywood films like Ram Setu and Thank God made an average opening despite being released on Diwali. There was also news that these two Hindi films were getting canceled and in many regions the shows are being replaced by the Hindi version of the Kannada movie Kantara. No doubt, the movie got some exceptional response from the fans, and because of this, we saw the business of the other two movies plunging.
“In 2010, after watching Sex and the City 2, I posted on Twitter that a bad movie acted like a Dementor (from the Harry Potter world). It sucks the joy and happiness out of you. This line came back to me while watching Bollywood’s big Diwali releases Ram Sethu and Thank God,” says film critic Anupama Chopra.
Major clashes during Diwali
She believes Diwali is traditionally a high point in the Hindi releases calendar, with major clashes stirring up the festival vibe. “Think of Mission Kashmir vs. Mohabbatein in 2000 or Sawariya vs. Om Shanti Om in 2007 or Ae Dil Hai Mushkil vs. Shivaay in 2016. Bollywood’s Diwali release was a treat for the audience, with distributors and audiences crying over which film had the best opening. But, Not this year. Ram Sethu and Thank God created pre-release buzz and some bookings. Ram Sethu posted a solid opening day number of Rs 15 crores (Akshay Kumar’s biggest grosser of the year) and managed to do well for the rest of the week. But the numbers can’t hide the film’s insignificance,” Anupama explains.
The 55-year-old further adds that these films are symptoms of the deep sorrow of the Hindi film industry. “Despite being physically battered by the epidemic, the star power remains rigorous in its writing and attention to detail. Flamboyant screenplays keep falling in film after film.”
“Digital, satellite, and audio sales are “saving everybody’s ass,” one producer (who doesn’t want to be named) told me recently. Out of the 140-plus Hindi films released so far this year, many will recover their costs with these deals alone, he said. He said the situation was bad because, “without strong theatrical flows, you cannot sustain this business,” she said.
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The Diwali holidays have clearly gone under-utilized as Hindi original films have not found the acceptance they were supposed to get. However, we saw many beautiful movies coming from the south industry which are winning the hearts of the fans at the Pan India level. After KGF chapter 1 and chapter 2 recently released movie Kantara won the hearts of the fans at the national level.
And seeing a huge response from the audiences, the shows of Ram Setu & Thank God was gradually replaced further with Kantara which saw a rise of 25%.
Poor content is pushing the audiences to switch to other languages and mediums of entertainment. Most Bollywood movies recently have even struggled to recover the cost. A mega-star cast, which was able to pull audiences to theatres, is now no longer effective as weak content has become the decisive factor. Hindi cinema needs more than money, influencers, and marketing tricks to keep drawing audiences to theatres.