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Bollywood couldn't care less about flops
Priyanka Khanna, Mar 27 [ Sun, Mar 27, 2005 ]
  • New Delhi, March 27 (IANS): Ticket sales are at all-time lows and distribution rights for big-banner films have no takers but producers and stars are raking in the moolah like never before.

    Bollywood, the world's most-prolific moviemaking industry, can no more adhere to its traditional parameters of classifying films as hits or flops. In the last three months, just two films have done well, while 30 have sunk without a trace. But the mood in the industry is still upbeat.

    Earlier, less than 30 per cent occupancy was the criteria for declaring a film a flop, but today it calls for celebration.

    Statistical projections say another story. According to consultants KPMG, the entertainment industry growing at 18 per cent per annum is set to touch Rs.588 billion in revenues by 2010, the film industry alone expected to cross Rs.140 billion by then.

    However, the rosy picture pales when it comes to distributors who are lamenting the box-office's financial crisis - some of them even demanding a minimum guarantee from producers.

    Says trade observer Taran Adarsh: "Pick any film and you will see it has an 'all-India open' status that means they are lying unsold for every territory.

    "Producers have been forced to distribute films themselves since distributors are in no mood to acquire the rights, partly because the market conditions are awful and partly they've burnt their fingers in the past few releases".

  • With traditional moviemaking economics undergoing a sea change due to satellite channels, overseas market and the DVD boom, theatrical revenues account for a very minuscule portion of the booty.

    "Everybody is making money, even the distributors who are crying horse. Showing the film to less people at Rs.120 is more profitable than screening it full house for Rs.20," says producer Vashu Bhagnani.

    According to Shyam Shroff, Adlabs Films chairman: "There is a lack of transparency. When I don't know the cost of a film or how much it really made on the turnstiles, I cannot say whether it was a hit or a flop".

    Trade analysts say the answer to the golden hit-or-flop question depends on who is asking. Clearly, the industry is seeking new deciding parameters.

    The week ahead, with its string of three divergent films - the patriotic "Tango Charlie", "My Brother Nikhil" and "Zeher - will in fact increase the need for a better definition.

    Critics have given a thumbs-up for "Tango Charlie", starring Ajay Devagan and Bobby Deol, and "My..." starring Sanjay Suri, Victor Bannerjee, Juhi Chawla and Lillete Dubey.

    "My...", newcomer Onirban's well-told tale of a HIV positive youth's struggle to lead a life of dignity, released Friday, is likely to rope in a wider audience owing to its deft handling.

    "Distributors are finally at ease. Over 10 films are awaiting release by March-end, and exhibitors, who were earlier apprehensive, say the time is ripe for new films," Taran said.

  • Bollywood couldn't care less about flops

    April will witness a string of big releases - "Lucky", Salman Khan's first release this year, Vidhu Vinod Chopra's "Parineeta" and Kamal Hassan's "Mumbai Xpress".

    Tentatively slated for an April 8 release, "Lucky" directed by Radhika Rao and Vinay Sapru will introduce Sneha Ullal widely touted as a look-alike of Salman's ex-flame Aishwarya Rai.

    "Mumbai Xpress" directed by Singeetham Srinivasa Rao and starring Manisha Koirala and Om Puri, is described as a comedy. It has music by the legendary Ilayaraja.

    Though Kamal Hassan is the reigning god in south Indian movies, he has not had a successful run in Bollywood.

    For that matter, his recent experiments on celluloid has not exactly set the box office on fire - the Rs.110 million "Hey Ram" failed, so did "Abhay" and "Veerumandi" in Tamil.

    But Kamal Hassan is undeterred: "I want to make movies for the niche market whose potential is still untapped. If Armani, Versace and Digjam are able to tell them to wear stripes or pastel colours, why not cinema? It is possible to change the audience," he has said.

  • Bollywood couldn't care less about flops
    Box-office's favourite star, Akshay Kumar, will return to romance the silver screen April in the power-packed emotional drama "Waqt - The Race Against Time".

    The film by Vipul Amrutlal Shah has a formidable cast of Amitabh Bachchan, Priyanka Chopra and Boman Irani and has the industry pegging its hopes high.

    So far, Akshay has had an envious run at the turnstiles. The Indian masses love him and his pairing with Priyanka has been a hit on more than one occasion.

  • Bollywood couldn't care less about flops
    Another hot film set for release in April is "Kaal" - starring Ajay Devgan, Vivek Oberoi, John Abraham, Lara Dutta, Esha Deol and Shah Rukh Khan in a special appearance. Its item numbers playing are already the talk of the town.

    Typical Hindi 'masala' films will find competition from the international critically acclaimed film, "Matrubhoomi", a small-budget film produced by Patrick Sobelman, Nicolas Blanc and Punkej Kharabanda, and directed by the now famous Manish Jha.

    The film based on a sensitive social issue, stars Tulip Joshi, Sushant Singh, Sudhir Pandey and Piyush Mishra.

    Cast in a similar mould will be the Ashutosh Rana-starrer "Shabnam Mousi", which is based on India's first eunuch-turned-politician. All in all, an interesting month awaits Hindi movie buffs.

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