The release of an offbeat film like The Tashkent Files along with big budget and multi-starrer projects like Kalank and Avengers: Endgame was assumed to be a bad decision by film trade analysts, but the film’s success has turned around the entire game…yet again. Despite having only 250 screens — which was around six percent of Kalank — The Tashkent Files managed to earn approximately Rs 14.35 crore in the first four weeks. It is believed that the film would have done far better than Kalank, had it been released on an equally grand scale. The film’s background score composer trio, Satya-Manik-Afsar add, “The film’s success is evident from the fact that every passing weekend saw an increase in the number of audience flocking to theatres to watch our film.”
Manik Batra affirms, “Viewers are looking for strong and substantial content, and that’s the reason films like The Tashkent Files are doing extremely well despite a fewer number of screens.”
Eventually, critical success notwithstanding, box office collections are equally if not more important. Commenting on this, Manik, who with his team has given background score for almost 30 tele-series till date, says, “A film with a good storyline and great performances will surely be appreciated by the audience as well as critics. But we can’t ignore that box office is as important as the critical acclaim – more than us it is important for the producers and financiers of the film because only if they earn will there be more work for everyone involved in the film trade.
Fact is, offbeat films like Uri: The Surgical Strike and Raazi are making moolah at the box office when big budget star studded films like Kalank and Student of the Year 2 are coming a cropper at the box office.
Eminent director of films like Raid and No One Killed Jessica, Raj Kumar Gupta opines, “The films should be real in content and the audiences should identify with the subject of the film. There should be something in the screenplay of the film that should hold the audience’s attention.”
Jyoti Venkatesh, veteran film journalist and critic, says, “The subjects of the films should be innovative and not seen on the big screen. Kalank, for one, was a rehash of many old films. The film should be fresh and attractive in packaging and in totality.”
Trade analyst and producer Girish Johar explains, “Due to the popularity of OTT platforms, web content, digital content, regional content and Hollywood content the audience wants something with depth and not only star driven.
Yes, stars are necessary but that alone can’t make a film a success at the box office.”
Kumar Mohan, trade analyst and editor of trade magazine Bollywood TV Reporter opines, “It is not that Uri… and Raazi didn’t have any star value as Vicky Kaushal and Alia Bhatt are stars in their own right but films like Kalank and Student of the Year 2 were like old wine in a new bottle — nothing new for the audiences. This worked against it and the films didn’t click at the box office.”
Manu Rishi Chaddha, writer of films like Fry-Day and Naanu Ki Jaanu shares, “Films like Raazi and Uri… were a part of the audiences’ lives. They connected with it on the social network and hence identified with the characters of the films. Both the characters and situations were very real and touched one’s heart whereas a film like Student of the Year 2 was not much different from part one. Kalank had a lot of stars but the story didn’t seem real enough. Today the characters in a film should touch the audiences’ hearts to make it a hit at the box-office. Multi-starrers like Amar Akbar Anthony were made by Manmohan Desai in his era but at that time too off beat films were being made and appreciated by the audiences.”
Looks like filmmakers will have to pull up their socks and create super fresh content. Innovative scripts and engaging storytelling with good subjects are the need of the hour; the times of relying on stars to bring the audiences in is gone for good. Else it will sound the death knell for big multi-starrer films.
With news of Karan Johar going in for a rewrite of his upcoming directorial Takht on the heels of Dharma Productions’ failed Kalank, it does look like the message has hit home.
(Dinesh Raheja is an Indian author, columnist, TV scriptwriter, and film historian. In 2017, he initiated The Dinesh Raheja Workshop in which he teaches Bollywood aspirants everything related to the media.)