A LOOK AT HINDI CINEMA’S ROLLERCOASTER RELATIONSHIP WITH THE ANNUAL FESTIVAL ALONG WITH THE WINNERS AND LOSERS SINCE 1989
by ASJAD NAZIR
NATIONAL holidays are the most lucrative time of the year for Bollywood because audience numbers increase substantially, and this subsequently results in bigger box office returns.
Diwali is the holiday that kick-started the holiday trend for Bollywood with families flocking to cinemas to see the blockbusters. But it hasn’t been plain sailing with Hindi cinema because the industry has had a rollercoaster relationship with the popular holiday, including box office battles between stars. Most of the action globally has taken place in the past 30 years.
Eastern Eye went back to chart the highs, lows and unexpected turns offered up by Bollywood releases during Diwali.
1989: Bollywood’s greatest ever director Yash Chopra was struggling by the end of the 1980s after a series of forgettable films, but then his blockbuster Diwali release Chandni changed everything. The film not only revived his Yash Raj Films banner, but also alerted others to the increased cinematic footfall during Diwali.
1990: Jamai Raja starred the then king and queen of Bollywood Anil Kapoor and Madhuri Dixit, so was expected to clock up huge numbers during Diwali. Unfortunately, the film bombed at the box office. An even bigger flop was Agneekal, which released on the same day.
1991: It should have been double Diwali delight for Bollywood with Amitabh Bachchan starrer Akayla battling it out with Banjaran, which had Rishi Kapoor and Sridevi, but both movies failed at the box office.
1992: The Sanjay Dutt starrer Yalgaar was expected to dominate Diwali and clock up huge numbers, but it was only a moderate success and beaten badly at the box office by action-romance Jigar, which starred then newcomers Ajay Devgn and Karisma Kapoor. This would start a long run of Devgn movies releasing during Diwali.
1993: Ajay Devgn was hoping to take the Diwali box office by storm again with his film Bedardi, but it was crushed at the box office by blockbuster hit Baazigar, which turned Shah Rukh Khan into an overnight superstar.
1994: Diwali belonged to Karisma Kapoor in 1994 because she scored a blockbuster hit with Suhaag alongside leading men Ajay Devgn and Akshay Kumar. She also starred in Andaz Apna Apna with Aamir Khan and Salman, which lost the box office battle, but became a cult classic comedy.
1995: Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge became the biggest Diwali blockbuster in history as it swept aside every movie and became a global phenomenon. The Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol starrer set a new benchmark on the holiday. Yaarana, starring Rishi Kapoor and Madhuri Dixit also released at the same time, but failed to make a mark.
1996: Sapoot starring Suniel Shetty and Akshay Kumar failed to make a mark. The film was beaten at the box office by Ghatak, which starred Sunny Deol and Meenakshi Seeshadri. That 1996 Diwali month will be remembered for Raja Hindustani, which released a week after the festival ended and smashed box office records.
1997: Diwali proved to be profitable for Bollywood in 1997 and leading the way was global blockbuster Dil To Pagal Hai, which starred Shah Rukh Khan, Madhuri Dixit and Karisma Kapoor. Ghulam-e-Mustafa and Bhai were crushed by the musical romance, but also did decent business.
1998: Bade Miyan Chote Miyan marked the return of Amitabh Bachchan after a hiatus and did well at the box office, but 1998 Diwali belonged to Karan Johar’s directorial debut Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. The Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol and Rani Mukerji starrer smashed box office records around the world.
1999: Family film Hum Saath Saath Hain, which was the third collaboration between Salman Khan and Sooraj Barjatya after record-breaking films Maine Pyar Kiya and Hum Aapke Hain Koun, clocked up huge figures at the box office, despite mixed reviews. Shool starring Manoj Bajpayee released on the same day but failed to generate much interest despite largely positive reviews.
2000: There was an interesting battle at the Diwali box office at the turn of the millennium between Mission Kashmir and Mohabbatein. Both films did well, but Mohabbatein starring Shah Rukh Khan and Amitabh Bachchan was a huge hit despite getting mixed reviews.
2001: Arjun Rampal’s Deewanapan took on Ajay Devgn’s Tera Mera Saath Rahen in one of the most forgettable Diwali box office battles of all time. Both films failed to generate much interest and were quickly forgotten.
2002: There was another boring box office clash the in 2003 with Annarth, starring Suniel Shetty and Sanjay Dutt, and Govinda-Raveena Tandon starrer Waah! Tera Kya Kehna being major disasters. Jeena Sirf Mere Liye, which starred debutante Tusshar Kapoor opposite Kareena Kapoor did more business but was also a flop.
2003: After two years of failure, the big films shied away from releasing on Diwali in 2003. Low budget Sssshhh… was a critical and commercial failure. Pinjar, which starred Manoj Bajpayee and Urmila Matondkar got great reviews but also failed at the box office.
2004: Diwali went back to winning ways with blockbuster hit Veer Zaara, which starred Shah Rukh Khan, Preity Zinta and Rani Mukerji. The Yash Chopra directed film clocked up huge numbers. Aitraaz, starring Akshay Kumar, Priyanka Chopra and Kareena Kapoor also did decent business that year. Naach starring Abhishek Bachchan also released and was a major disaster.
2005: There was a three-way box office tussle with Garam Masala starring John Abraham and Akshay Kumar coming out as the winner. Kyon Ki starring Salman Khan and Kareena Kapoor failed, along with Shaadi No 1, which was a multi-starrer led by Sanjay Dutt.
2006: There was a battle between the Khans in 2006 and one very clear winner. Don – The Chase Begins Again, starring Shah Rukh Khan and Priyanka Chopra was a huge box office smash. Meanwhile, Jaan-E-Mann starring Salman Khan, Akshay Kumar and Preity Zinta was a major commercial and critical disaster.
2007: There was a huge box office battle in 2007 between Bollywood’s then biggest star Shah Rukh Khan and A-list director Sanjay Leela Bhansali. Khan came out on top with blockbuster hit Om Shanti Om, which boasted a massive number of star cameos and marked the Bollywood debut of Deepika Padukone. Meanwhile, Bhansali’s film Saawariya, which launched Ranbir Kapoor and Sonam Kapoor was a huge disaster.
2008: There were two contrasting Diwali releases in 2008 that both did very well. Multi-starrer Golmaal Returns survived bad reviews to clock up big numbers at the box office. Meanwhile, award-winning film Fashion starring Priyanka Chopra and Kangana Ranaut received glowing reviews, which translated into solid box office numbers.
2009: There was a three-way battle at the box office with contrasting films starring big Bollywood stars. Big budget multi-starrers All The Best: Fun Begins and Blue failed to live up to the hype, but managed to do average business thanks to the increased Diwali footfall. The same couldn’t be said for Main Aurr Mrs Khanna, which was a major Diwali disaster despite having Salman Khan and Kareena Kapoor in the cast.
2010: Golmaal 3 repeated the success of the previous two films in the franchise and scored big at the box office, despite all the negative reviews. This marked yet another Diwali success for Ajay Devgn, who led a cast that included Kareena Kapoor, Tusshar Kapoor and Arshad Warsi. Meanwhile, the Back To The Future-inspired Action Replayy was declared a disaster even though it had Akshay Kumar and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan in the cast.
2011: All the films ran scared of Shah Rukh Khan’s special-effects-laden sci-fi blockbuster Ra.One. The film got a strong opening, but negative reviews soon ended that early momentum and despite a decent box office, the film was declared a disaster because of the huge budget.
2012: Legendary director Yah Chopra became synonymous with Diwali and released his final film Jab Tak Hain Jaan on that date in 2012. The romantic drama starring Shah Rukh Khan, Katrina Kaif and Anushka Sharma had a strong opening but was unable to sustain it because of largely negative reviews, but still claimed a hit status. Son Of Sardaar had a similar story and was also declared a hit, but lead star Ajay Devgn accused the Jab Tak Hain Jaan team of dirty tricks.
2013: Superhero film Krrish 3 flew to box office success and became a huge blockbuster. The third instalment in the sci-fi franchise starring Hrithik Roshan, Priyanka Chopra and Kangana Ranaut clocked up huge numbers at the box office and will give rise to a fourth film in the series, expected to release in 2021.
2014: Director Farah Khan was hoping to recreate the Diwali magic of Om Shanti Om (2008) with her film Happy New Year, which once again starred Shah Rukh Khan and Deepika Padukone. The film opened very strongly at the box office, but was unable to survive scathing reviews and was declared a disaster because of the massive budget.
2015: There was a similar story in 2015 when Salman Khan tried to recreate past Diwali magic with director Sooraj Barjatya with their film Prem Ratan Dhan Payo. The movie, which also starred Sonam Kapoor, opened up strongly, but couldn’t survive negative reviews and was declared a flop because of the huge cost to make it.
2016: The box office battle in 2016 was between romantic drama and action entertainer. One corner had Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, which starred Ranbir Kapoor, Anushka Sharma and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, in the other was Ajay Devgn’s Shivaay. Both films were unable to match sky-high expectations but had above-average runs at the box office. They were declared hits, but only just.
2017: Comedy film Golmaal Again survived largely scathing reviews, but just like the previous three films in the series, generated massive numbers at the box office. Meanwhile, Secret Superstar got fantastic reviews but failed to pull in Diwali audiences in a major way. But all was not lost for the Aamir Khan home production because it later released in China and scored big.
2018: Aamir Khan and Amitabh Bachchan starrer had a record opening day at the box office, but bombed badly after failing to meet up to sky-high expectations. The spectacular failure took everyone by surprise and relegated Diwali behind Eid, Christmas and Republic Day as a profitable release day.
2019: Slapstick comedy Housefull 4 is hoping to recreate the 2017 Diwali magic of Golmaal Again by clocking up huge numbers and surviving negative reviews. Akshay Kumar leads an all-star cast that includes Bobby Deol, Riteish Deshmukh, Kriti Sanon and Pooja Hegde. Like previous Diwali releases, it will be up to the audience to decide if it is a winner.