Ranbir Kapoor and Alia Bhatt’s Brahmastra has brought back the audience to the cinema halls after a long-standing dry spell. The last five months have been simply abysmal for Bollywood as almost all big-budget movies, toplined by A-list stars, crashed at the box office without even a whimper.
Samrat Prithviraj, Laal Singh Chaddha, Raksha Bandhan, Shamshera, Runway 34, and Heropanti 2 are some of the biggies which didn’t even fetch decent initials and were dead on arrival. Karthik Aaryan’s Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 – helmed by Anees Bazmee – is the only movie that struck gold at the turnstiles and netted Rs 185 crore in India.
Now, Brahmastra, directed by Ayan Mukerji, has seemingly ended the drought by clocking up Rs 165 crore nett (all languages) in its first week. The movie did phenomenal business in its first weekend and raked in Rs 118 crore nett (all languages) in India. The collections dipped sharply on Monday and Tuesday but again steadied from Wednesday onwards.
The trend of the movie, so far, suggests that while it is doing roaring business in big cities and premium multiplexes, the collections in mass circuits are underwhelming. This means the appreciation for this mega-budget film is limited only to A-class centres. The collections will show excellent upturn in the second weekend because of very good acceptance among the city audience.
Many people had expected the movie to crash after the drop on Monday and Tuesday but that hasn’t happened. The movie is set to have a creditable run in top-of-the-line multiplexes and is likely to garner Rs 250 crore nett (all languages) in India in its lifetime. It will leapfrog the business of Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 in its second weekend to become the second highest grossing Bollywood movie of the year after The Kashmir Files.
Despite ringing up impressive collections, not everyone in the trade is willing to call it a ‘hit’ due to its exorbitant budget. While there is a consensus that Brahmastra has infused much-needed oxygen into the ramshackle industry, a few folks assert that its Rs 400 crore budget is a fly in the ointment.
The New Indian spoke with various people in the industry to know their thoughts on Brahmastra:
Girish Johar (Producer and Business Expert): There is no doubt that Brahmastra has come as a whiff of fresh air for the industry which was choking under the jackboot of disasters. It has given a ray of hope to filmmakers that there is an audience out there to watch their movies. See, I am not too bothered whether Brahmastra is technically a hit or just an average fare due to the budget. The fact is that collections are very good and after a long time there is positive buzz surrounding Bollywood. As a member of the fraternity, I prefer to look at the positive side.
The success of Brahmastra is important for three reasons: a) The industry is now assured that audiences want to see Bollywood movies if the content is good and they’re imaginatively packaged; b) The industry and exhibition sector provide a lot of employment to people. The success of Brahmastra is a morale-booster for everyone whose livelihood depends on movie business; c) The collections of Brahmastra have smashed the narrative that social-media boycott campaigns are affecting the box-office fate of movies. I hope that the media will no longer give credence and space to such feckless chatter.
Raj Bansal (Veteran Distributor): Brahmastra had a stupendous weekend and recorded fabulous numbers but collections came down after the weekend. I’m not denying that it will do well in the second weekend but it is not a universal success. While the business is sterling in Maharashtra, Gujarat, South and Delhi city, the mass circuits such as Rajasthan, CP Berar and CI are dull.
Personally, I’m elated that after a long time the audience gave a chance to a Bollywood movie but I will not call it a ‘hit’ because the budget has thrown the spanner in the works. The collections, while good, don’t quite match the magnitude and scale. The movie was lavishly mounted and had to work across India in a big way to recover its cost but that was not to be.
Having said that, the signs are positive as people are once again looking interested in Bollywood movies. Our makers must not squander this opportunity and focus on backing whip-cracking content.
Satadeep Saha (Prominent Exhibitor): To tell you the truth, I’m absolutely jubilant with the kind of response Brahmastra has received. Everyone in my cinema hall, be it the manager, usherer, snack-sellers or the audience, is in a celebratory mood. The last three months were incredibly torrid for us and we were scrambling for survival but Brahmastra has restored our faith in the magic of cinema.
Looking at the current state of Bollywood business, I will call Brahmastra a ‘hit’ without any reservations. The makers might not recover the complete cost but that’s fine because Brahmastra is planned as a franchise. Due to upbeat response, its brand is established and the next two movies from this franchise will reap rich dividends. We will talk about budget and recovery after all the three movies are released. In the final run, the makers will be in the black. Look at Baahubali: the first movie of the franchise did good business in Hindi circuits but the collections of Baahubali 2 were five times more than the first one.
It’s time for Bollywood to rejoice and gear up to whip out more such movies in future.