Vidya Balan is ruling the box-office with two surprise blockbusters. "While The Dirty Picture (2011) is the biggest grossing woman-centric film in terms of volume (collections), Kahaani (2012) is a bigger hit in terms of pricing," points out trade analyst Taran Adarsh.
Made for Rs 5 crore, the thriller has netted around Rs 65 crore in five weeks, with record takings of 90 per cent in the second weekend, matching Agent Vinod’s (2012) collections in the third weekend and in its fifth weekend, bringing in an excess of Rs 1 crore despite competition from Housefull 2. There’s more moolah coming from music, satellite and home video rights.
What’s phenomenal is that these numbers have come from a film with a seven-month pregnant heroine, no nationally recognisable stars apart from Vidya or commercial trappings like songs and sex.
Vikram Malhotra, COO, Viacom 18 Motion, admits that it was the success of Tanu Weds Manu (2011), driven by a female actor (Kangana Ranaut), that gave Viacom the confidence to take on Kahaani.
"It has proved that if content is strong, well presented and marketed right, even if unconventional, the gender of the protagonist is not an issue," says Vikram, who will push the envelope again in September with Rani Mukherji’s Aaiya, a small budget, unconventional film set in Pune.
Director Sujoy Ghosh is celebrating too: "I hope that Kahaani will bring a new set of rules that propagate the belief that there are no rules in cinema. Backed by a producer willing to take a chance, you can be bold and brave as far as content and format goes."
So, is the heroine the new hero? Sujoy retorts, "That would depend on the story, whether it needs to be driven by a male or a female protagonist."