22 Aug 2022

Bollywood in self Denial?


World cinema has been under a transition phase for a while, from the advent of OTT precisely speaking and Indian cinema has been no different as the tastes and priorities of the audience have vastly changed. Corona has given a catalytic nudge to the already booming OTT buzz and bigger markets of Indian cinema like Bollywood, Tollywood and a few others seem to have been facing the burn.

But is that all for big industries like Bollywood? An honest answer would be a big NO.

Bollywood, a potential domestic 1000 crore market for Indian cinema has been in a slump for a few years now and the wait for a revival seems to be never-ending. The last a Bollywood movie has been at the top of the table with the domestic market has been 2017 when Bahubali 2 toppled Dangal and half a decade later, the same Dangal stands as the top movie in Bollywood still, but at #3, KGF2 being #2. There’s a multitude of reasons for this which we could discuss all day long, but for the sake of keeping it short, let us talk about a few.


Gone are the days when a khan hero could bulldoze the content of the movie at the box office and bring in respectable numbers. It is content that is ruling the roost now and movies like URI and The Kashmir Files have proved the same, that a big hero is not a mandate for a movie to make it big. And if the content isn’t interesting, even a big hero is failing to bring in good numbers on the opening day itself ,Lal Singh Chadda, Raksha Bandhan are the latest examples of this.


OTT has been a big spoilsport for the box office of Bollywood as the sheer availability of varied content made the audience's tastes niche. It is a simple pick and choose of content irrespective of the language (thanks to dubbing and/or subtitles) and in a genre of their liking. This comfort put against the costs associated with multiplexes is a no-brainer choice for audiences. The icing on the cake is the availability of new content within weeks of theatrical release and when a movie is available within a couple of weeks of theatrical release in OTT, why bother going to theatres?


Going by the tastes of the audience would be key to the success of any industry and the Bollywood audience has been very evident with their choice of movies, “mass masala entertainers”. It however needs to be said that the makers of Bollywood haven’t been able to play to the tune as most of their movies seem to be catering to the urban audience which is again failing to make a notice or impact at the intended circuits and turning out duds. The response to movies like Bahubali’s, KGFs, and Pushpa should have given a fair idea about what the audience tastes and treading that way might be a money spinner for Bollywood. 


This should be said as the primary issue with Bollywood now as interviews with known Bollywood personalities time and again give out the message that audiences should have to grow up to like their movies but are in continuous denial about them not being able to make money minters. A most recent example of this is an interview with Tapsee and Anurag Kashyap where when asked about the #BoycottBollywood trend, made fun of it asking the audience to boycott their movie as well along with others. The opening day occupancies which turned out later should have felt like a slap on the face of them.

One more worrisome strategy applied in Bollywood is the direct ott release instead of theatrical release. We can understand if it is done at the time of corona but now when the theatres are back still the big movies are opting for an ott direct release-like Cutputli, which is not the right idea when you want people to watch the movies in theatres.


All said the writing is simple and on the wall for Bollywood. Commercial entertainers and big canvas movies with something interesting in the offer, and no Direct OTT releases for big movies are the way to go until the next trend and they should go with making such movies, whether they like it or not. Only these seem to be making the audience throng to the big screen after the slump of C0rona+OTT. If they still are in denial about making movies only to their liking, they will soon become irrelevant and will be replaced by someone who dances to the tune.


It is not like all Hindi films are failing. A movie based on tragic real-life incidents like The Kashmir Files has made gross collections of up to 300 crores which no one expected. Also, the movie Bhool Bhulaiya 2, which came with a sequel hype, made up 250 crores. And Jug Jug Jiyo starring hero Varun Dhawan, senior hero Anil Kapoor and Kiara Advani was not a huge success, but it did cross a hundred crores gross and ended as an average fare  As director Rajamouli said on a recent occasion, comedy, class, mass, be it any genre, there should be strong content in the right parts in the movies, and if there is proper promotion, any movie or any industry will run on the path of success. Otherwise, if the Bollywood makers are still away from the audience, then they have themselves to blame.


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