Sooryavanshi to Gangubai Kathiawadi, The Kashmir Files: A look at pandemic theatrical journey of Hindi films
The Hindi Film Industry is facing a tough time with films unable to pose respectable numbers. Only Sooryavanshi, Gangubai Kathiawadi and The Kashmir Files have been able to record respectable numbers.
It has been six months since Covid-19 restrictions were lifted across India. The lifting of Covid-19 restrictions meant that Indian films, particularly Hindi films, could release across India by complying with the standard operating procedure guidelines shared by local governing bodies. Maharashtra, which contributes 35 to 40 percent of the biz for Hindi films, was among the last states to lift the restrictions on theatres and it came as a respite to the producers who held onto their films for so long.
The first major release was Rohit Shetty’s much-awaited directorial, Sooryavanshi, starring Akshay Kumar and Katrina Kaif in leading roles. The film faced restrictions in Maharashtra since, as per the SOP guidelines, Sooryavanshi could only run at 50 percent capacity. Despite the shortcomings, Sooryavanshi enjoyed a very solid run at the box office, aided by Diwali, as it managed to fetch an India nett total of Rs. 196 cr and secure a hit verdict for itself. With Sooryavanshi setting the ball rolling, one would expect other Bollywood films to follow suit. Sadly, films after Sooryavanshi, could not perform as well as they were expected to. The Hindi Film Industry saw films underperforming back to back, starting from Antim and Satyameva Jayate 2 to Tadap, Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui and 83. While Hindi films found the going tough, Hollywood biggie Spiderman: No Way Home and Tollywood biggie Pushpa ran to packed houses and intensified troubles for the Hindi films as they were catering to the same audiences as Bollywood films. The third wave of Covid-19 showed signs towards the end of December which led to the further delay of many films scheduled to release around that time.
Box Office for Hindi films resumed in the second week of February with Badhaai Do, which again ended up being a disappointing venture, theatrically. The much-needed respite, as far as box office is concerned, came from Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Gangubai Kathiawadi, starring Alia Bhatt in the titular role. The film did an India nett business in excess of Rs. 125 cr and it was a great result considering how films performed post that. Jhund and Bachchhan Paandey failed to record decent numbers. While Tollywood’s mega-budget film RRR and Kollywood’s much-awaited sequel KGF: Chapter 2 made massive gains for their Hindi dubbed version, Bollywood films like Attack, Jersey, Runway 34 and Heropanti 2 had to bite the dust with none of them managing to touch even the Rs. 30 cr nett mark. The only exception from the Hindi Film Industry came from Vivek Agnihotri’s The Kashmir Files, which shocked the trade by clocking Rs. 250 cr despite opening at around Rs. 3 cr nett, thus emerging an all-time blockbuster. There were various factors that worked in favour of the film and drove the business, but objectively speaking, it was a massively successful film for the Hindi Film Industry.
The Hindi Film Industry is currently in a fix. While Hollywood films and regional films continue to perform well, Hindi films are unable to get the momentum going and subsequently, they are seeing instant rejection. Bollywood desperately needs films that open big so that there is some sort of curiosity that is built around the film which can help the film to have a strong run. So far, only Sooryavanshi has ticked all the boxes from opening to lifetime and we expect more films to do the same in the future.