Bollywood has been languishing in financial purgatory for the past few years. Less than a third of the films that have been released annually are hits, while the rest are either barely breaking even or outright flopping.
And as these past few months taught us, even the Khans are no longer impervious to the public’s general loathing of Bollywood blockbusters’ unique brand of schlock. Tubelight and Jab Harry Met Sejal, though technically semi-hits, were some of the lowest performing films of Salman and Shah Rukh Khan’s careers.
While many cite critic reviews for a film’s demise at the box office with both Khan films receiving less than savory reviews, the phenomenal success of Hindi Medium proves otherwise. The B-list film generated 100 crores despite the fact that most critics were indifferent to it.
In terms of profit percentage one could say that Hindi Medium and the other socially conscious low-budget film released this year, Lipstick Under My Burkha, were astronomically more successful than any blockbuster film this year.
The reason these two films did so well boils down to two factors – both films refused to confine themselves to the usual tedious trappings of a shuddh desi romance storyline and secondly, and more importantly, they both had their fingers squarely on the pulse of the status quo.
Cinema has always has been a mirror reflection of present times although Bollywood vehemently refuses to acknowledge that.
It still wants to peddle the same old shit.
Instead of adapting to the times – times in which original, well-written Netflix and HBO shows draw much larger audiences than any Khan film playing on television and where social media has given rise to the woke Indian, Bollywood has turned into the grandparent who just doesn’t seem to “get it”.
ARTWORK BY MIRA MALHOTRA