• Thursday, July 18, 2024

Entertainment

Bollywood half-yearly BO report: ‘Kalki 2898 AD’ Hindi version only bright spot

Audiences are not watching Hindi movies in theatres as frequently as they did before and experts believe high ticket price and poor content are to be blamed.

Kalki 9828 AD Poster

By: Mohnish Singh

The success of the Hindi version of Kalki 2898 AD has brought a dash of black to the Hindi film industry in a 2024 that was otherwise in the red with big-budget box office failures Bade Miyan Chote Miyan, Maidan, and Yodha.

According to the six-month report card of the industry, the business of the Hindi cinema exhibition sector is down by 20-30 per cent. Small films and original ideas made their presence felt with films such as Laapata Ladies and Munjya, which had no major star power, but not enough.

“Had it not been for Kalki 2889 AD, I would’ve said the first six months of 2024 are quite bad. Although Kalki is not a Bollywood film, it has brought a new lease of life with its Hindi dubbed version. Kalki came just to improve our report card; otherwise, it would’ve been full of red marks,” trade analyst Komal Nahta told PTI.

The Hindi dubbed version of the dystopian epic, starring Amitabh Bachchan, Prabhas, Kamal Haasan, and Deepika Padukone is expected to do numbers north of £30 million, he said. In total, the film, also in Telugu, Tamil, and Malayalam, has grossed over £90 million.

In Nahta’s view, Kalki 2898 AD is primarily a Telugu production but its Hindi dubbed version has done fantastic business.

The other films released during the year did dismal business.

“Business is down by at least 20 to 25 per cent as compared to last year. The exhibitors are bleeding,” Nahta said.

Mumbai-based exhibitor Manoj Desai and Jaipur distributor Raj Bansal pegged the numbers at 50-60 per cent lower than in 2023.

Desai described the period as the worst for the exhibition industry, so different from last year which saw money spinners Pathaan and Gadar 2.

“The year 2024 has been very bad for us. We don’t know what to do now since we don’t have any other alternate business. Last year was filled with many blockbusters like Pathaan, Jawan, Gadar 2, Animal, and many more. But in 2024, all the films released so far have not worked in a big way,” Desai, who serves as an executive director of Gaiety Galaxy cinema in suburban Mumbai, told PTI.

“Producers and distributors earn money irrespective of the fate of the film. It’s exhibitors like us who have been suffering. Business is down by 50 to 60 per cent across all theatres. We have the lowest ticket rates in our theatres but we are finding it difficult (to run it), while those who charge exorbitant ticket rates like Rs. 500 to Rs 1,500. I don’t know how they are surviving,” he said.

Audiences are not watching Hindi movies in theatres as frequently as they did before and experts believe high ticket prices and poor content are to be blamed.

Nahta said the Hindi film industry should reevaluate its strategies and prioritise content-driven storytelling.

“My observation is that till you don’t give something compelling to the audience, they are not going to come to cinemas. Post-Covid that change has come as a lot of people have shifted to watching films at home. They wait for films to come out after three-four months on OTT. So, to bring them back to cinemas, you’ll have to improve on your scripts,” he said.

Will the second half of 2024 be better?

The industry insiders certainly hope so.

Among the films lined up for release are Stree 2, Vedaa, the third part of the Singham franchise, and Baby John starring Varun Dhawan, besides south-language movies like Allu Arjun-starrer Pushpa 2 and NTR Jr’s Devara.

“We were hoping that post-June some good films will be released but some of them are getting pushed ahead. We are still expecting something good will happen as we’ve some great line-up for release,” Desai said.

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