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Monday, January 24, 2022

What Kamal Haasan would say about Ranveer Singh-starrer 83’s underwhelming box office performance

While Ranveer Singh's latest sports drama 83 failed to meet the box office expectations, Allu Arjun's Pushpa: The Rise outperformed all predictions.

Written by Manoj Kumar R | Bengaluru |
January 5, 2022 5:50:51 pm
ranveer singh in 83Ranvver Singh in 83.

Ranveer Singh’s latest biopic drama 83 was supposed to storm the box office in India. Who could have foreseen the underperformance of a film based on a historic event, which is nothing short of a cornerstone of India’s sporting history? Particularly in India, where cricket is touted as a religion. The fact that the film impressed critics and audience alike was the final stamp of approval.

If any Indian film had all the elements to bring the whole country together, it was 83. It had cricket blended with nationalism, an amazing star cast, stunning performances, wide release and glowing reviews from all the leading critics. And yet the film failed to create the box office impact that was expected of it.

What has puzzled everyone is the performance of Allu Arjun’s Pushpa: The Rise at the same time. Owing to the time constraint, the filmmakers were not able to give it a proper promotion in the Hindi belt and had a rather soft release, given there was not much hope from the film in the region. The exhibitors were already happy with the performance of Marvel’s Spider-Man: No Way Home and they were confident of 83’s BO performance. But, in reality, things played out quite differently. While Pushpa earned Rs 300 crore within two weeks of release in terms of worldwide box office numbers, with Rs 68.19 crore coming from its Hindi version, 83 film made Rs 93.28 crore till January 3 from all versions. The massive budget of 83 makes the earnings underwhelming.

So why didn’t 83 click at the box office? Trade analysts may come up with wild theories in their attempt to explain the film’s box office performance. But, it would be the death of cinema as an art form and an expression of free will and imagination, when filmmakers try to tailor their creations to suit the requirements of the market.

Some movies work commercially, and some movies don’t. And the film’s that don’t make a dent at the box office are far from failures. It is high time that we change the definition of what’s a successful film and what’s not.

Take, for instance, Hey Ram. The 2000 movie is a masterpiece but it was widely misunderstood at the time. The audience was quite reluctant to appreciate the world-class storytelling of Kamal Haasan, as he reimagined a watershed moment in India’s modern history. So was Kamal’s Anbe Sivam. The tale of a hard-core humanist changing the world, one person at a time. However, it did not receive its due at the box office when it was released in 2003. Going by their commercial performances, these movies are considered massive failures. But, do Hey Ram and Anbe Sivam deserve such classification? Absolutely not. It is the collective failure of the majority of the movie audience to appreciate these great pieces of cinema.

“Every time a film can’t be a success (at the box office). What kind of film is that? Will it live even after I’m gone? If yes, then that’s a successful film,” Kamal had said once.

And most of the commercially successful movies vanish from our memory the moment we step out of the theaters. Is that a sign of a successful movie?

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