There has not been a steady ebb and flow when it comes to the quality of the Bollywood films released thus far this year. Dismal box office collections are a testament to that with most films either flopping harder than a Nineties Kevin Costner film or barely breaking even.
Indeed, audiences across India are sending a message loud and clear to Bollywood film studios – make better films or keep losing a shit ton of money.
Below are my personal assumptions why some of this year’s films were a catastrophe.
BOX OFFICE COLLECTION: 23.5 crores
PROBLEM: Despite the Aashiqui 2 cast reunion and the ubiquity of that addicting Humma Humma rework, OK Jaanu‘s reception at the box office was tepid at best. The reason being that Bollywood audiences are simply no longer willing to accept uninspired, hastily made South Indian film remakes.
SOLUTION: South Indian film remakes are a gamble, not a guarantee at the box office. For every Drishyam, there’s a Tevar or an OK Jaanu. Ultimately, revisiting old territory will almost always be less satisfying to a viewer than exposing them to something original and engaging.
BOX OFFICE COLLECTION: 20 crores
PROBLEM: Vishal Bharadwaj’s lofty ambitions got the better of him this time round with the auteur biting more than he can chew in a story stuffed with one too many convoluted endings and a running time that tested the patience of all twelve people who saw this POS film.
SOLUTION: Hiring a script doctor and/or having an experienced, supportive producer intervene. With the exception of Karan Johar, Bollywood producers are often told to give up the money and back off. That doesn’t help anyone.
BOX OFFICE COLLECTION: less than 10 crores
PROBLEM: Noor was yet another failed attempt by Bollywood to find the “the next Queen” i.e. the next pseudo-feminist propaganda piece.
SOLUTION: Before Bollywood gets the itch again to find “the next Queen“, it seems as though it first needs to undergo the Five Stages of Grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and lastly acceptance. There’s only one Queen. It’s time to let go, Bollywood. Let.It.Go.
MERI PYAARI BINDU
BOX OFFICE COLLECTION: 10 crores
PROBLEM: Despite this Zoey Deschanel-esque rom-com being touted as Parineeti Chopra’s big comeback (she’s been out of the limelight for three years now), Meri Pyaari Bindu proved to be an underwhelming affair with less-than-inspiring writing and an even less inspiring turn from the typically brilliant Chopra.
SOLUTION: A better vehicle for Parineeti Chopra; something she could really sink her teeth into. She is after all the only Bollywood actor in recent memory who managed to garner a National Award in only her second film and someone who in the zenith of her career made Alia Bhatt green with envy.
BOX OFFICE COLLECTION: Currently bombing at the box office
PROBLEM: A tonally cacophonous film that uncomfortably fuses breezy Euro romance with sword-and-sorcery fantasy.
SOLUTION: Modern-day Indian audiences refuse to be subjected to Bollywood films that change genre wholesale post Intermission. This might have worked in the past but because Indians are becoming more and more exposed to Hollywood films, films that are generally much more cohesive in tone than Bollywood films, films like Raabta just won’t cut it anymore.
Bollywood today is well aware that the root of its problem lies in its lack of investment in its underpaid, under appreciated writers yet they have not taken a single step to remedy that problem.
If studio heads keep patronizing their audiences with poorly written schlock films, they will soon find themselves spiraling downwards even further and ultimately, filing for bankruptcy.
ARTWORK BY MIRA MALHOTRA