• Thursday, June 20, 2024

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Bad year for Bollywood

How a horrid 2024 will ruin the big Hindi cinema revival of 2023

Bade Miyan Chote Miyan

By: Asjad Nazir

BOLLYWOOD had been on such a horrible downward slide for several years that regional industries like Telugu films took over Indian cinema.

After a long list of catastrophic failures, the Hindi film industry spectacularly turned things around in 2023 with super hit films like Jawan, Pathaan, Animal and Gadar 2. 

Meanwhile, Dunki, Tiger 3 and Rocky Aur Rani Ki Prem Kahani survived mixed reviews to clock up decent numbers at the box office. The deeply Islamophobic propaganda movie The Kerala Story was declared a hit and Adipurush was savaged by critics, but still had a blockbuster opening weekend.  

The success of all these films instilled confidence back in an industry that had perhaps been at the lowest point in its entire history and many hoped that it was a sign of past glories returning. If 2023 was a special year, it has now become apparent that 2024 will undo all that glory and bring back the bad times to Bollywood in a way that no one could have imagined.

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Yodha

 The year started off with high-flying film Fighter crashing at the box office. This was followed by a series of failures, including spectacular Eid flops Maidan and Bade Miyan Chote Miyan.  

The only real success has been Shaitaan, which was a sub-standard remake of a Gujarati film that received largely negative reviews and was only a hit due to the relatively low budget. Article 370 was also declared a hit in India, but it was heavily criticised for distorting facts, having a one-sided narrative and being a propaganda movie for the government. Crew received mixed reviews and was at best a moderate success. Merry Christmas and the recently released Do Aur Do Pyaar received positive reviews, but turned out to be box office failures. 

 Most Bollywood movies released in India have had to resort to giving a two for one ticket offer to attract audiences, but even that hasn’t really worked.  

Things won’t get any better for the remainder of this year and that is perfectly illustrated with the lack of notable Hindi films due for release in the months ahead. 

 Singham Again is perhaps the only 2024 Bollywood film that has potential to be a major hit. Despite having a huge star cast, the cop sequel was postponed from an August release and pushed back to Diwali because producers did not seem to have the confidence to clash with Telugu blockbuster sequel Pushpa: The Rule, which is expected to be this year’s highest grossing Indian film. 

 A large part of the 2023 momentum has been undone by last year’s two most successful stars, Shah Rukh Khan and Ranbir Kapoor, not having any movies released this year.

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Fighter

 In recent years, whenever there has been a bad year for Bollywood, Akshay Kumar is never far away. He had five film disasters in 2022 and according to Wikipedia, the actor has a staggering nine films due for release in 2024. His action thriller Bade Miyan Chote Miyan was a flop and most of his movies due for release this year are destined for the same fate. (thankfully, all nine films listed won’t release this year). 

 The 56-year-old is, of course, not solely to blame for the Bollywood bad times. But ageing actors like him and Ajay Devgn headlining a massive number of movies prevents much-needed new talent from coming through.  

Currently, there are no bankable leads under 30 working in Hindi films, which is extraordinary. 

 Deepika Padukone and Alia Bhatt are now the only leading ladies under 40 who are considered capable of pulling in audiences.  

Among the leading men under 40, Tiger Shroff consistently makes horrible choices that result in flop films and Ayushmann Khurrana, 39, has shown that his small window of success was a flash in the pan. Meanwhile, Ranveer Singh, 38, is facing a career crisis after a number of failures and high-profile films he was due to star in being cancelled.  

In the past, whenever Bollywood has been in the doldrums it has recovered with young talent reviving the industry, with the late 1980s being a perfect example. After a largely forgettable decade, a new wave of young stars led by Aamir Khan, Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan, Madhuri Dixit and Juhi Chawla sparked the industry back into life.

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Merry Christmas

But Hindi cinema doesn’t have those young stars because rampant nepotism has diluted the talent pool and aging actors are torturing audiences with self-indulgent projects. 

 With no real young talent coming through and aging stars cashing in while they can with mostly nonsense projects, it seems as if 2023 was a false dawn and the bad times will continue in Bollywood. 

 Meanwhile, south Indian superstars are continuing to thrive, with Prabhas (Kalki 2898AD), Allu Arjun (Pushpa: The Rule), NTR Jr (Devara), Ram Charan (Game Changer), Suriya (Kanguva), Kamal Haasan (Indian 2) and Rajinikanth (Vettaiyan) due to headline huge projects in 2024. All these films will be dubbed in Hindi, and will show comprehensively that Bollywood is no longer the boss of Indian cinema. It is an industry in deep trouble and denial of how bad things have become, even if 2023 offered a little hope. 

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