The Hindi film industry never had it so bad. Recession, a producer-multiplex strike, and a string of duds led to one of the worst years for Bollywood. Experts say it suffered a loss of about Rs.700 crore (Rs.7 billion) in 2009.
"2009 has been a disastrous year for the Hindi film industry. We've had everything, from swine flu, cricket matches, elections to a strike against the industry this time," trade analyst Taran Adarsh told IANS over phone from Mumbai.
"And then we had major flops like Chandni Chowk To China, Aladin and Kurbaan to name a few. People have lost almost 75-100 percent for a movie. Though the actual losses cannot be accounted, it is huge and more than Rs.500-700 crore," he added.
Film critic Omar Qureshi echoed the same.
"It has been one of the bad years. Unfortunately, some of the big movies failed this year. Even Diwali, when we release the biggest movies of the year, was such a disappointment with failures in Blue and Main Aurr Mrs. Khanna."
The year started with not-so-happening movies like The President Is Coming, Bad Luck Govind, Kaashh...Mere Hote -- none of them could ignite the box office.
It was followed by massively promoted big budgets like Warner Bros co-production - Rs. 51-crore Chandni Chowk To China, Shah Rukh Khan's home production, the Rs.23 crore Billu, and UTV's Rs.45 crore Delhi 6 -- all of them failed at the ticket window.
So far 120-odd films have released, but hits are few and far between. Movies that made business include low-budget ones like Raaz - The Mystery Continues, Dev D, 13 B, Phoonk, New York, Wake Up Sid, Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani.
Big-starrer and big-budget films like Love Aaj Kal, Kaminey, Wanted, All The Best, and De Dana Dan too clicked at the box office.
Films like Luck By Chance, Firaaq, Gulaal and Quick Gun Murugun couldn't get the cash registers ringing, but received appreciation from audiences and critics alike.
The first few months were spent reeling under recession. Then came another blow in the form of the film producers-distributors' tussle with multiplexes over revenue sharing. It led to a two-month strike - from April 4 to June 5 - and witnessed a virtual drought of movies. During that period, gap fillers like Coffee House, 99, Suno Na and Detective Naani were released.
As soon as the strike got over, IPL matches and elections started, leading to low footfalls in theatres.
Bollywood events also took a nose dive in the wake of swine flu which led to the closing of cinema halls temporarily as well as cancellation of shootings.
"The year has been a tough one because of a couple of reasons. First, for three months there were no releases which caused a dent and a lot of movies bunched up that further ate one another's revenues. Then, because of the abundance of movies, audiences declined," Siddharth Roy Kapur, CEO of UTV Motion Pictures, told IANS over phone from Mumbai.
Adarsh, however, felt "the two main reasons for the industry's debacle this year have been the remuneration of actors and corporates that acquired movies at exorbitant prices, leading to doomsday."
"The costing this year was the biggest spoilsport. It was so huge that it ruined the industry. The industry was thrown to the lions because of actors' fees and it was very difficult for the producers to recover the investments," he said.
Most big-budget films received tremendous openings courtesy round the clock promotions but fell flat at the box office.
Some of them were 8X10 Tasveer, Kal Kissne Dekha, Kambakkht Ishq, Luck, Dil Bole Hadippa, What's Your Raashee?, Do Knot Disturb, Blue, Main Aurr Mrs. Khanna, London Dreams, Aladin and Kurbaan.
Bollywood now awaits the much-talked about Three Idiots, which is releasing Dec 25. Trade pundits hope that the Aamir Khan-starrer repeats the same success story that Ghajini created when it was released last year on the same day.
They also suggest some revival strategy in the new year.
Qureshi said: "We must look at reinventing scripts with a good story and a good star cast. You cannot insult the audience now and take them for granted. You have to make intelligent movies. Look at a very intelligent stupid movie Ajab Prem Ki Gazab Kahani that worked wonders."
Said Roy Kapoor, "2010 should be high on creativity and hope the production costs come down and a model is developed that is more effective than it was ever before."