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Small is the new big in Bollywood

While the big guns in Bollywood talk of the Rs 100 crore movies, small budget movies are sweeping the box office, reports Princy Jain.

entertainment Updated: Sep 10, 2008 17:56 IST
Princy Jain

While the big guns in Bollywood talk of the Rs 100 crore movies, small budget movies are sweeping the box office — Aamir (Rs 4 crore), Jaane Tu... Ya Jaane Na (Rs 5 crore), Mumbai Meri Jaan (Rs 4 crore), Phoonk (Rs 2.5 crore), Rock On!! (Rs 5 crore) and A Wednesday (Rs 4 crore).

These films don’t have big star casts, lavish sets or exotic songs. But they have a sharp concept and appealing content. Many times the cost of these films is equal to the remuneration of a big star — between Rs 4 to Rs 6 crore.

Shailendra Singh of Percept Picture Company says that a well executed movie with a good script can determine the movie’s box office success. He cites the example of the big-budget Kisna vis-à-vis the small budget, but well scripted Page 3. “Kisna and Page 3 were released on the same Friday. Within its first week, Kisna was declared a flop while Page 3, which was made on a budget of Rs 4.5 crore, ran for weeks.” Page 3 earned 12 crore gross, while Kisna, which was made on a budget of Rs 30 crore and earned only Rs 15 crore.

Not about the money
Pritish Nandy of Pritish Nandy Communication said: “We are going back to the old days when films were not differentiated on the basis of budget. Does anyone ever talk of a Raj Kapoor film on the basis of money spent? Do we ever talk about money when we talk of legendry filmmakers like Guru Dutt and Bimal Roy?”

“When a film like Aamir or Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na is appreciated, filmmakers realise that content is king,” says PVR’s Ranjan Singh. “These exciting returns have set the ball rolling for many other small budget films. “More such films are now being made because of the multiplex audience and the willingness of studios like Studio18, UTV, PPC, to take a risk on them,” says trade analyst Taran Adarsh.

Ready to release
Limited budgets films slated to hit screens this year include Shyam Benegal’s Welcome To Sujjanpur, Anurag Kashyap’s DevD and Tansingh Tomar, Sudhir Mishra’s Aur Devdas, PNC’s Triangular Love Story, Mukta Art’s Paying Guest and Hello Darling.

“The trick is to spot an exciting script and define its target audience,” says Vikas Behl, COO, of UTV Spot Boy. “Once these two are achieved only then the budget is allocated.”

Further cost cutting is happening at the distribution level. “A limited number of prints are distributed. If a film is a success, the rights to satellite channels are sold for a higher price, which itself recovers half of the budget. The satellite rights of Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na have reportedly been sold for Rs 15 crore already.

Also rights of Aamir were sold for close to Rs 6 crore to Sony Entertainment,” says an insider.

Filmmaker Subhash Ghai, who recently directed Black and White, after having made big budget films like Taal, has the final word. “A film should be entertaining, budget is secondary.”