On the brighter sidehttps://indianexpress.com/article/cities/ahmedabad/on-the-brighter-side/

On the brighter side

When 2009 dawned,the list of films to release this year included some of the most awaited names that were to have helped catapult the film industry out of a recession.

When 2009 dawned,the list of films to release this year included some of the most awaited names that were to have helped catapult the film industry out of a recession. Instead,all hopes fell through as big-budget movies like Chandni Chowk to China,Delhi-6,Billu,8×10 Tasveer and even Academy Award-winning Slumdog Millionaire (in Hindi) turned out to be the surprise duds of the year.

Things finally seem to be looking up for the film industry after a tumultuous 10 months of 2009. According to famed trade analyst Taran Adarsh,this year has seen way too many lean periods,in terms of release windows as well as box-office hits. “Within the first four months of the year,Bollywood was faced with the multiplex-producer standoff. The April to June window was lost,” he explains.

Vinod Mirani,editor of trade magazine Box Office,says that thankfully the year saw its first hit before this phase. “Raaz – The Mystery Continues did good business. In a country starved for movies under the genre,most horror films do well,” he explains. And while certain trade sources debate this,UTV’s Dev.D fared average,bringing in more than Rs 13 crore worth of revenue just before the multiplex standoff.

The three months when no major Bollywood flicks released,was the time that producers used to release their delayed and small-budget films. “Films like Coffee House and Detective Naani came and went as 2009 is clearly not the year for small budget films; last year saw surprise hits like A Wednesday and Mithya,” asserts Adarsh.

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Surprisingly,one of the profitable movies of 2009 happens to belong to regional cinema. Mahesh Manjrekar’s Mee Shivajiraje Bhosle Boltoy released in multiplexes during the producer-multiplex war and did tremendous business — making over Rs 25 crore in two months — across Maharashtra. “It would be unfair to assume that the film did well because of the lean period since the movie was critically acclaimed as well,” says Mirani.

Halfway through the year,when the big releases queued up for post-June release,the first one to hit the theatres — Yash Raj Films’ New York,brought in good news,grossing more than Rs 40 crore in the first two weeks.

It was followed by Saif Ali Khan’s Illuminati Productions’ debut film Love Aaj Kal,Nadiadwala’s Akshay Kumar-Kareena Kapoor starrer Kambakkht Ishq and UTV’s film by Vishal Bhardwaj,Kaminey.

But Mirani says that the only real hit of the year is Wanted,which has set new records for the single screens after the advent of multiplexes. “A mass entertainer,it has made Rs 29 crore in its first week,” he counters. “New York,Dev.D and Kaminey have done well but they were budgeted before the recession hit and have not able to meet their targets.”

UTV Movies CEO Siddharth Roy Kapur insists,“New York,Love Aaj Kal and Kaminey are the only three films to have crossed the Rs 40-crore benchmark in week one and two,to make it to the new profit sharing ratios at 50:50 that was decided between the multiplexes and producers during the standoff.”

The latest film to be raking it in is Dharma Production’s Wake Up Sid,which released to packed houses over the weekend. The movie seems to have already crossed the 10 crore mark. “Word of mouth helped the movie perform in the cities but one can’t yet comment on the overall scenario as

it’s an urban concept that may or may not be received well in smaller cities,” says Mirani.

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Taking its cue,the industry has now pinned all its hopes on the dozen big films releasing during the festive season: Dharma’s next — Saif Ali Khan-Kareena Kapoor starrer Kurbaan,Ashtavinayak’s Blue which boasts of AR Rahman’s music,Vipul Shah’s London Dreams and Rajkumar Hirani’s 3 Idiots. “There are enough films and given that the festive season has just about begun,they should hopefully make up for the loss.”

smiles Adarsh. Hopefully.