The Bombay movies have never had a success formula. Of late, even the tried and tested ones are being rewritten. Films are no longer about star power. They are not about the banner either. Even multiplex-age tactics like marketing and publicity can go in vain.
After a hugely successful 2006, the industry stepped into Year 2007 with huge expectations. While Guru, the first big release of the year, kept the graph upwards, the following Fridays failed to match.
Beginning with multistarrer Salaam-E-Ishq, then Eklavya – The Royal Guard, followed by Shaka Laka Boom Boom a few months later, the box office collections had started trailing. The recent jhatka came when, Yash Raj Films Jhoom Barabar Jhoom failed to make an impact.
But that doesn't mean that the year has been dead and dry. Reema Kagti's Honeymoon Travels Private Ltd, Sagar Ballary's Bheja Fry and Balki's Cheeni Kum are the pleasant flavours.
Says Vipul Shah, who claims to have collected Rs 110 crore across the world, "Stars are not bigger than the film. The success of small-budget films like Honeymoon and Bheja Fry only proves this."
Director Madhur Bhandarkar, whose film Traffic Signal has been one of the above avaerage grossers this year, says, "Audiences have become ruthless. Any film, which fails to deliver good entertainment for the money and time spent, is a flop."
<b1>Opening to collection:
Last year was the year of weekend business. With a heavy rush of films every Friday filmmakers were keen on maximising the first weekend collection. But 2007 has offered a mixed bag so far, and will continue to do so.
Says Ashish Saxena, COO, Film Cell, "Films like Traffic Signal, Bheja or Honeymoon didn't really get a stupendous opening. But as word went around, they went on to become money spinners."
Madhur says Traffic Signal was made on a budget of Rs 4 crore, while it earned Rs 12 crore. Similarly Bheja Fry was made on a shoestring budget of Rs 60 lakh, in 18 days straight, and got Rs 14 crore back from the market.
Script is king
Reasons, Mani Ratnam, "Though Guru had the backing of Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya, it's the script that made the movie a hit." Production houses like Yash Raj Films, Percept Pictures Company and UTV have come to be the key players.
But the script is king there as well. Says Pritish Nandy, "Nothing is bigger than the script. Be it a corporate or single filmmaker."
The later half of the year will have biggies like Chak De, Welcome, Jodha Akbar and Laga Chunri Main Daag. But there are some dozen of debut filmmakers and small budget films, which can turn out to be bigger surprises.
Script-driven hits: Guru Honeymoon Travels Private Ltd Bheja Fry Cheeni Kum
Disappointing misses: Salaam-E-Ishq Eklavya - The Royal Guard Shaka Laka Boom Boom Jhoom Barabar Jhoom