Just six months old, 2006 is already turning out to be a milestone in the history of Indian cinema.
The year that began with a bang — January-release Rang De Basanti has now acquired cult status — shows no signs of slowing down. While Malamaal Weekly and Phir Hera Pheri kept the cash registers ringing, Fanaa and now Krrish have already brought out the party hats.
Not to forget films like Gangster, Aksar, Taxi No. 9211, Tom Dick And Harry, Humko Deewana Kar Gaye and Being Cyrus, which did reasonably good business. And yet to come are films like Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna, Munnabhai Lagey Raho, Jaaneman, Umrao Jaan, Guru and Don.
Though previous years have had their share of hits, the jingle that began at the ticket counters in early 2006 is yet to subside, with more to follow.
The success of Fanaa has brought out the party hats
Whether due to new strategies (releasing maximum prints, for instance), improved publicity machineries, mushrooming of multiplexes, the growing overseas market or savvy use of new media, 2006 clearly marks a turnaround that analysts feel is here to stay.
Business is today so big that a production house can afford to ignore the complete ban on a film in one state, as Yash Raj did for Fanaa.
Trade sources say it is because they had already made enough money. "Till date, Fanaa has collected approximately Rs 11 crore in the Mumbai circuit which also includes Gujarat. For a big banner like Yash Raj, one territory can't make any dent in their business," says trade analyst Kumar Mohan.
Moviemaking in Bollywood is increasingly becoming risk-proof. "As long as we manage to churn out good movies, things will be steady," says director Sunil Darshan.
For instance, a few years back less than 30 per cent occupancy used to be enough to call a film a 'flop', but things have changed.
"Audience occupancy percentages have lost their charm. Today, filmmakers release enormous number of prints, so you can't expect it to be houseful everywhere," says producer Sunil Manchanda, adding, "recovery is much larger these days. If its 100 per cent, it's a superhit but even if it manages to open with 30-40 per cent, it is still average. Showing the film to less people for Rs 100 is more profitable than screening it full house for Rs 30-40."
That is where the mushrooming of multiplexes comes into play. Says Raman Maroo of Shemaroo Video, "Today, at least 25 to 30 cities have several multiplexes. Moreover, business has moved to the US model of fast exploitation, blended well with marketing blitz, media tieups and much more."
A large chunk of the credit for the turnaround goes to publicity machineries that ensure at least a good initial draw. "Filmmakers are smart enough today to cash on everything coming their way For instance, look at the opening of Fanaa which generated such a lot of controversy," adds Maroo.
Traditional moviemaking economics has witnessed another change of late. With satellite channels, new media and the emergence of overseas markets, filmmakers are finding it more convenient to recover investments.
Trade sources say 50 per cent of a film's revenues now come from the new media that includes the Internet, mobile phones and radio. Director Madhur Bhandarkar feels the use of new media will allow more room for innovative films. "While films with superstars will definitely make more money, films with lesser known names will also have a good chance on the ticket counter now," he adds.
Even distributors are a happy lot. "If the flow of good films stops, things will again go back to square one. But seeing the first half of 2006 and forthcoming movies, I'm sure this year is going to prove a landmark for Bollywood," says distributor Rajesh Thadani.