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Posted at: Jul 8, 2018, 1:23 AM; last updated: Jul 8, 2018, 1:23 AM (IST)

Finally a hit formula?

It has been an exceptional half year for the Hindi film industry. More than three films have been blockbusters, several hit the bull’s eye and many with rather unusual subjects were declared bona fide hits

Nonika Singh

On the first day, it earned the tag of the biggest opener of 2018, and on day three, it smashed the record of Baahubali 2. Within a couple of days, Sanju a biopic on the controversial but lovable actor Sanjay Dutt entered the Rs100-crore club.

Nothing surprising here. You expect nothing less from gifted director Rajkumar Hirani, who easily finds the balance between critical acclaim and commercial success. His previous outings like 3 Idiots and PK, too, have gone to bust records not just in India but also in foreign lands.

What is invigorating is the heartening hit-flop ratio. Without doubt, it has been an exceptional half year for the Hindi film industry. More than three films have been blockbusters, several have hit the bull’s eye, a fair amount have done good business. A clutch of films like Parmanu and Hichki, which had rather unusual subjects, too have been declared bona fide hits.

So what’s special this year? Have producers and directors suddenly discovered a new magic formula? Have they suddenly been blessed with the Midas touch or have they reinvented Bollywood or, better still, stumbled upon failure-proof marketing strategies? Indeed, exciting teasers help a lot. Films like Sanju are hyped with consistent marketing pitch. Some like Padmaavat automatically fall into the lap of controversy and are publicised by default. But then, there are movies like Parmanu. With barely 10 days for promotion, Parmanu — the Story of Pokharan hit the ground running yet worked simply by word of mouth praise.

There is, however, no fixed pattern. Indeed, Salman Khan’s cult status remains intact. The ageing superstar still possesses the ability to push an otherwise universally panned film Race 3 up the boxoffice charts. But audiences certainly are no longer star struck. Relatively unknown till recently, Kartik Aaryan, too, can draw them in hordes on day one itself. This rather unexpected, dark horse if you wish, Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety is one delightful blockbuster of the year that made Aaryan a superstar.

Any doubt that critics can sway the minds of viewers or re-jig the boxoffice figures stands nullified. Never mind the acerbic reviews, films work of their own volition on the dint of their weight and substance. Indeed, most films that have found their way into viewers’ hearts, except perhaps a Baaghi 2, an out and out action film, are high on the emotional quotient.

If Raazi kept you on tenterhooks, it tugged at the heartstrings as well. High on bromance, Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety too found an emotional connect. So did Parmanu: The Story of Pokhran and Padman, even though the themes (nuclear explosion and menstruation) were as different as chalk and cheese. Taboo subjects — be it menstruation or women’s sexuality — found a resonance as did the usual family film with a twist 102 Not Out.

Perhaps, the only lesson to learn here is; the audience wants variety. Even a niche film like October goes on to mint more than Rs40 crore. History, reality, thriller, patriotism, inspirational tales, cine buffs are game for anything, provided it is couched within a reasonably good story told equally well. It could well be an all male universe as in 102 Not Out or female power at the forefront as in Veere Di Wedding. Success of films like Hichki, Veere Di Wedding and Raazi once again underlines that women too can, nay are ruling the marquee.

The other comforting markers are the rising overseas collections. If Sanju had a bumper opening in the US, the UK and Australia, the second-highest opening weekend grosser of 2018 overseas, earlier in the year Padmaavat earned a position on the coveted list of worldwide revenue earnings. However, humungous openings (Race 3, Padmaavat, Sanju, Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety) or slow starters (Raazi), Bollywood has all the reason to rejoice. This is only half-way mark with Aamir Khan’s Thugs of Hindostan, Karan Johar’s Dhadak, Akshay Kumar’s Gold and Shah Rukh Khan’s Zero yet to hit the screens. Big guns are yet to blaze. Even at the risk of repetition, dare we say watch out for this space, cash registers are still ringing, and likely to tingle even more.


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