Bollywood’s new benchmark: Rs 100 crore and higher

Even before Bodyguard, the latest Salman Khan-starrer, was released in theatres, it had earned the “blockbuster” tag. The only thing left to see was if it would cross the Rs 100 crore mark and how soon it would achieve that.
The reason for such anxiety was not related to financial gains alone. It was also about the degree of success that the film would achive. “Rs 100 crore collection is the new benchmark of a Bollywood hit,” feels Atul Agnihotri, producer of Bodyguard. “In the last couple of years, the industry has seen several films surpassing the Rs 100 crore mark. Two of them have been Salman’s. So we had to promote Bodyguard right, because I was sitting on a hat-trick ball,” he adds.
The Rs 100 crore phenomenon at the box-office started with Ghajini, which raked in almost Rs 140 crore, thanks to Aamir Khan pumping his biceps and seeking revenge. The actor did it again with 3 Idiots, which earned yet-to-be-matched Rs 315 crore. However, Dabangg (Rs 170 crore) and Golmaal 3 (Rs 110 crore) kept the Rs 100 crore party going in 2010.
The year 2011 too has contributed to it with Ready (Rs 130 crore), Singham (Rs 107 crore) and Bodyguard (Rs 200 crore) enjoying an excellent run. In the coming months, Ra.One and Don 2 —which are releasing on October 26 and December 23 respectively — are expected to do similar business. “However, whether they are a hit will also be determined by their production costs,” says trade analyst Taran Adarsh. In fact, with Ra.One’s production cost crossing Rs 140 crore, the immediate task for its team is to recover the amount and make profit.
According to Adarsh, the Rs 100 crore phenomenon is directly proportional to the rising number of multiplexes in the country, increasing price of tickets and also the overseas market. “In the last three years, a large number of multiplexes have replaced single screens. So obviously there is a huge change in the price factor,” he points out. Agnihotri believes that since the production costs have gone up, the recovery is planned bearing that in mind. “Bodyguard was a very expensive project. We had to cross the Rs 100 crore mark to bring in profits for everyone.”
Interestingly, even a Rs 100 earning can’t dictate if a film is a hit. “It all depends on the budget of the film. If I make a film for Rs 100 crore and earn only as much, then it’s not a hit. We spent around Rs 40 crore on Singham and earned over Rs 100 crore; that was profit,” says Rohit Shetty, director of Golmaal 3 and Singham. Actor Salman Khan echoes, “The business increases by 20 per cent every year. In that sense, Dabangg was not as big a hit as 3 Idiots, and Ready was not as big a hit as Dabangg,” he says. Khan also compares these films to yesteryear hits like Sholay, Maine Pyaar Kiya and Hum Aapke Hain Kaun. “If these films released today, we wouldn’t have been able to compete. Those films ran for five years or more. Today we look at around five months, sometimes even lesser. Back then, the ticket prices were Rs 5 and Rs 10, but today, they are priced at Rs 250 and Rs 300, so obviously we earn more,” he says.
All the seven films that have reached the Rs 100 crore bracket, are mass entertainers. Agnihotri reasons: “That is the only way you can make sure your film crosses the 100 crore mark. We are not making a home video, we are making a film for the audience and they will obviously want a little bit of everything.” Shetty feels that a Rs 100 crore film should have Pan-India appeal. “The film has to do well in all corners of the country as well as abroad,” says Shetty.

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