As 2009 moves into its second half, the Bollywood box office can look back at just a handful of success stories. While a film producers' strike resulted in a virtual drought of movies for two whole months, the poor quality of the few that were released didn't help either. From January to June, about 55 films hit the screens but only six were able to do good business.
Among them Kabir Khan's directorial venture New York tops the list. This John Abraham, Katrina Kaif and Neil Nitin Mukesh starrer is clearly the hot favourite. Not only is the audience still flocking in, it has raked in about Rs.550 million globally till date. Yash Raj Films has refused to divulge budget details as per company policy.
Next is Dev D, a punk and grunge version of Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay's Devdas. After making the film, Kashyap has ensured one thing - for the next few years at least, no filmmaker will think of remaking Devdas the old way.
While the K.L. Saigal, Dilip Kumar and Shah Rukh Khan versions were closer to literature, Kashyap took an altogether tangential route with his version of the film with Abhay Deol.
Made on a budget of around Rs.60 million, Dev D turned out to be a crowd puller when it was released Feb 6 on more than 300 screens globally. It struck gold at the box office by raking in around Rs.130 million.
Kashyap's Gulaal also did well. Released after Dev D March 13, the film got a good initial courtesy. It raked in around Rs.30 million. Made on a low-budget, it released across 400 theatres worldwide with 200 prints.
Director Vikram K. Kumar's small-budget horror film 13B starring R. Madhavan too finds a place in the list.
Made on a budget of Rs.65 million, 13B came with a one-line premise: the human brain is the most complex machinery that the world has ever seen. The film asked a simple question: if we can trust the spirits to possess a human being as a medium to interact with the outside world, why can't they use machinery to do the same?
In this film, spirits use a TV set to create havoc in the lives of Madhavan and his family members, telling them a story and revealing a crime. What worked most for 13B was its tight narrative.
The film hit the screens March 6 and grossed around Rs.110 million.
Then comes director Zoya Akhtar's directorial debut, Luck By Chance, which had her brother Farhan Akhtar in the lead.
Luck By Chance had everything going in its favour. Zoya made an excellent debut as a director, but surprisingly audiences didn't really make a beeline for it. This was truly an insider's take on the state of affairs, as evident in every dialogue, mannerism and costume.
The critically acclaimed film released Jan 30 over 900 screens worldwide and went on to do moderate business by earning Rs.200 million.
If 2008 had Phoonk as a surprise success, then it was hardly surprising to see Raaz - The Mystery Continues as the bona fide hit of 2009 before New York arrived.
Mahesh and Mukesh Bhatt did an excellent job in promoting the film, the songs were chartbusters and Emraan Hashmi and Kangana Ranaut lived up to expectations. And director Mohit Suri surely came out with a quality product.
It was the first hit of the year after much-hyped Chandni Chowk To China. Made on a budget of around Rs.250 million, the film released Jan 23 and went on to make close to Rs.360 million.
Now the second half of the year seems to have got a good start with Kambakkht Ishq. The Akshay Kumar-Kareena Kapoor starrer has had a good opening.
(Joginder Tuteja can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)