EVERY year, among the films most awaited in India are a bunch of new installments of Hollywood franchises. While the concept of franchises is considered largely American, it’s an idea that Bollywood has also toyed with, off and on. One such name that comes to mind instantly is Dhoom, with three installments, each a bigger success than the last. There’s also Salman Khan’s Dabangg, Ajay Devgn’s Golmaal and Hrithik Roshan’s Krrish.
But in Kahaani 2: Durga Rani Singh this year, we have an example of a small, popular film turned into a successful franchise. The second installment did not feature Kahaani’s lead character Vidya Bagchi. Yet, the film drew attention, even though commercially it didn’t do the kind of business that the original did, with demonetisation partly to be blamed. Director Sujoy Ghosh admits that he turned his recent film into a Kahaani franchise in order to cash in on the popularity of the first. He says, “Promoting small-budget films can be expensive. Since there were a few things in common between the first film and this, namely the actor, the setting of West Bengal and the thriller genre, I could take the liberty”.
The coming year will see in its first quarter the installments of several small films turned into franchises. While Akshay Kumar replaces Arshad Warsi in Jolly LLB and ups its scale, Vidyut Jammwal will return in Commando 2. Shashank Khaitan is following up his Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania with Badrinath Ki Dulhania with the same lead pair of Varun Dhawan and Alia Bhatt.
Over the year, however, there are a number of installments lined up at the box-office. There’s Sarkar 3; a prequel to Neeraj Pandey’s Baby, titled Naam Shabana; Baahubali 2; Golmaal Again; the sequel to Rajinikanth’s Robot, titled 2.0, and Ek Tha Tiger’s next part titled Tiger Zinda Hai. There’s also a reboot of Anees Bazmee’s Aankhen and Judwaa, which David Dhawan has titled Judwaa 2. Talking about the trend, David says that Bollywood has had a number of hit films in comedy and action-thriller genre with big-ticket names. “Some like Judwaa, go on to become cults. There is audience curiosity towards such films. It is fair to draw upon their popularity to make a new film that bears some similarities with the original,” he says. Judwaa 2 stars his son Varun Dhawan in the lead.
As pointed out by David, however, a new installment of any franchise needs to have in common certain elements, even if it does not have the same protagonist. According to Amrita Pandey, V-P, Studios, Disney India, the draw of a franchises, especially sequels, is in the character graph that the audience returns for. “The market for franchise movies is definitely growing as the audience becomes familiar and relates to the content more easily.
The Avengers, Captain America and Pixar’s Cars, among others, have enjoyed the excitement of a sequel,” she says, adding that their studio this year will release Pirates of The Caribbean – Dead Men Tell No Tales, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Thor Ragnarok, Pixar’s Cars 3 and LucasFilm’s Star Wars: Episode VIII. There are also Spider-Man: Homecoming, Fifty Shades Darker, The Fate of the Furious, World War Z 2, and Annabelle 2, among a bunch of other titles.