Bollywood’s Rs 700 crore club: New reality or one-time strike?

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Akshay Kumar

BY SUGANDHA RAWAL

New Delhi–Gone are the days when Bollywood stars rejoiced entering the Rs 500 crore-in-a-year club. It is the era of the new Rs 700 crore-in-a-year club — all thanks to Akshay Kumar.

Backed by the success of four films — “Kesari”, “Mission Mangal”, “Housefull 4” and “Good Newwz” — Akshay scripted a new chapter in the history of Indian showbiz by minting over Rs 700 crore at the box office in 2019. Now, there’s going to be ripple effect in Bollywood showbiz with the tempering of box office expectations in 2020, and top stars reworking their strategy.

Trade experts credit Akshay’s strategy behind achieving this feat, and believe that matching his hit rate can be tough but not impossible.

“The volume of business is increasing. Now, actors have to focus on content as well as box office performance. The content has to be good, because if the content is appreciated by the audience, then box office numbers also follow… Akshay did four films last year, and all from different genres and touching different topics,” trade analyst Taran Adarsh told IANS.

“It is important for actors to experiment as well. They should try to give audience something new every time. If you give something new to the audience, which is also commercial, then it will get appreciated and get numbers well,” Adarsh added.

According to a list by Bollywood Hungama, Akshay minted Rs 735.42 crore last year, followed by Hrithik Roshan who registered business of Rs 464.85 crore with his act as math wiz Anand Kumar in “Super 30” and mega-hit “War”.

In fact, Riteish Deshmukh had ‘dhamaal’ at the box office in 2019 as he is third in the list by raking in over Rs 396 crore with three releases (“Total Dhamaal”, “Housefull 4” and “Marjaavaan”). Then there is Tiger Shroff (Rs 387.020 crore) for “Student of the Year 2” and “War”.

Superstar Salman Khan is fifth in the list with total of over Rs 356 crore (for two films — “Bharat” and “Dabangg 3”), who is followed by actor Ayushmann Khurrana with business of Rs 324.520 crore (“Article 15”, “Dream Girl” and “Bala”).

“Akshay comes out with four films in a year — that is why he can reach a new target. It is difficult for one individual with one release in a year to get that figure. He played smart by picking up different subjects… The choice of scripts were good. If we see, ‘War’ and ‘Dabangg 3’, individually did good. But Akshay comes with more films so he can get to that figure. Also, hats off to audience who got that figure,” trade expert Rajesh Thadani told IANS while breaking it down.

“The others can do if they do more films, with one film it is tough… They will have to rework their strategy, probably, to reach that figure,” he added.

It was in 2015 when Salman established the “Rs 500 crore-in-a-year club” with the success of “Bajrangi Bhaijaan” and “Prem Ratan Dhan Payo”. Bollywood’s eclectic Ranveer Singh joined Salman in the club in 2018, with the help of “Padmaavat” and “Simmba”.

“The number game keeps on changing… There will be consistency when stars give something different,” Adarsh noted.

And it’s not all about having more releases in a year.

“There has to be acceptance as well because overexposure can backfire. Akshay picks right projects, which are entertainers,” trade expert Vinod Mirani told IANS.

With films like “83”, “Baaghi 3”, “Angrezi Medium”, “Chehre”, “Radhe”, “Coolie No. 1”, “Laxmmi Bomb”, “Shamshera”, “Laal Singh Chaddha” and “Bachchan Pandey” in pipeline, Indian cinema in 2020 will be moving portrait of diverse stories, with projects led by superstars like Akshay, Aamir Khan and Salman set to clash at the box office.

The year 2020 will not only test the might of stardom, but also whether the Rs 700 crore-in-a-year club is here to stay or not.

“We can do better. But again one needs to focus on box office along with content… If you make art-house movie, then you can not expect to garner numbers. Our audience needs entertainment and that’s why you need to add entertainment into it,” Adarsh said. (IANS)

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