With Toilet: Ek Prem Katha being the only exception in a series of box office disappointments.
Bollywood’s dismal performance this year has been the talking point amongst industry insiders ever since Salman Khan’s Id release — his success formula — bombed in the box office. It seems that film after film is tanking, whether they have the Khans starring in them or not. The only exception so far has been Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, which has made a more than decent collection so far. One reason for Toilet’s success in theatres could well be that the tax-free status has allowed its tickets to be sold at much lower prices.
Only recently, Shah Rukh Khan’s movie, Jab Harry Met Sejal had ticket prices selling at even thousands of rupees in some multiplexes. With the Indian audience trying to squeeze out every last drop of all their purchases, how much of the reason behind low footfall in theatres are the ticket prices, we wonder.
Actress Richa Chadha certainly seems to think this is the cause. “The demand for films is on a downward graph, no matter how much we want to deny it. You look at the trailer of the film and you can tell whether it is not going to work at the box office. Sadly, big ships have been sinking and this has been happening not just now, but since 2014 and 15. Maybe one or two films a year makes profits, while everything else is sinking,” she sighs, adding that taxes definitely push up ticket prices, which in turn may be one more cause for a flop.
“The government is not helping in terms of taxation of tickets. For Jab Harry met Sejal, tickets were being sold for as high as Rs 2,500 in Delhi. While a few may actually go for a film in this scenario, they wouldn’t exactly bring the whole family along to the theatre. While taxation on tickets is this high, and subsequently the ticket prices are high, the footfall in cinema halls will continue to fall,” Richa adds with a shake of her head.
Actor and producer Anushka Sharma adds that the rise in web content has also made people think twice about spending their moolah on movies in the theatre. “People have the option of watching good content in the comfort of their homes, and we cannot deny that the kind of content that’s being generated through web series on Netflix, Amazon and other similar streaming sites is definitely interesting. It is not a threat but it kind of shows you that if people are coming to the cinema to watch a movie it will have to be that kind of cinematic experience. Movies have their own charm, which is unparalleled, but at the same time people are not foolish in our country. So films are not going to work just because there are stars in the film. It will work on the basis of content and content alone. We can’t take our audience for granted any more,” she shrugs.
Film critic Raja Sen however, doesn’t believe that ticket prices and turnouts in theatres have anything to do with one another. “It is the same for movies. However, high ticket prices do not get in the way of a movie’s success if the audience likes the movie. This year has been bad for Bollywood because the films have not connected with people. High prices for films being positioned in a ‘premium’ category can’t get in the way of a film’s success, and besides, the hiked up prices are only applicable in a handful of theatres,” he says, adding that Tubelight’s poor performance at the BO is what has the industry in a panic and out hunting for the cause behind the recession in B’wood.
Gadar Ek Prem Katha director Anil Sharma also agrees with this point of view. “If Bollywood is not doing well, it is because the content is not up to the mark. Filmmakers need to make movies that people can relate to. Only then will they have hits on their hands,” he states, decisively.
Actress Jacqueline Fernandez also thinks that Bollywood really needs to buckle up, because no one is ready to spend on second-rate content anymore. “There is going to be a large competition for filmmakers from outside forces like Netflix. Everyone from the film making professionals has to be on their toes now and try to break out of formula films. Hereafter it’s not going to be easy for us. As we will not know what works or may not work,” she states.
Well, looks like its back to the drawing board for B-town’s filmmakers!
With inputs from Lipika Verma