Forward March

Filmmakers name the films that scored at the box office in 2015, analyse what worked and what didn’t, and also tell us what we can look forward to in 2016.

As the industry is all set to start another promising year in 2016, we continue to analyse the business of films at the box office – during the year gone by and what to look forward in the new year. In a series of stories that we kicked off two weeks ago, we put the multiplex business under the scanner. We had cinema owners telling us which films enjoyed the longest run and drew the maximum number of footfalls at their respective properties. Next, we spoke to distributors, who listed the top films in their respective circuits. This week, we spoke to producers, who name the winners this year and share what 2015 was like for the film industry at large and what they have planned for 2016.

Apoorva Mehta, CEO, Dharma Productions

For Indian cinema, 2015 was the year of women and of surprises in brave attempts made by small films and new filmmakers. Masaan, Piku, Talvar and Manjhi set new standards with the reverence and love they received. Then, of course, we also had Bajrangi Bhaijaan and ABCD2, which succeeded in entertaining people and breaking records.

At Dharma, we released three films – Bahubali, Brothers and Shaandaar – which cumulatively grossed `200 crore at the Indian box office. Brothers was our first outing with Akshay (Kumar) sir and Bahubali got so much love and acclaim. It is currently India’s biggest grosser in the dubbed category. In fact, we’re often asked, ‘Why did Katappa kill Bahubali?’ Honestly, I am eager to know too!

And 2016 has a great assortment of films for us. The Sidharth Malhotra, Fawad Khan and Alia Bhatt starrer Kapoor & Sons is a dramedy with a superb mix of music and madness. It releases on March 18. We’re thrilled about Karan’s (Johar) return with what he’s best at, romance! His next film, Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, stars Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Ranbir Kapoor and Anushka Sharma, and is set to release on Diwali. We also start shooting a few unusual and interesting projects including Gauri Shinde’s next with Shah Rukh Khan and Alia Bhatt featuring in it, and Rohit Shetty’s Ram Lakhan.

Vijay Singh, CEO, Fox Star Studios

2015 was a year of huge learnings – it gave us a much better understanding of how the movie audience’s tastes are evolving in a rapidly changing environment. Come 2016 and Fox Star Studios has an exciting line-up of films. We start the year with Neerja, which releases on February 19, a biopic on the life of Neerja Bhanot,  an inspiring story of a 23-year-old airhostess, who displayed amazing courage in the face of adversity. This will be followed by Kapoor & Sons, a family drama from Dharma Productions with an amazing cast consisting of Alia Bhatt, Sidharth Malhotra and Fawad Khan.

Sonakshi Sinha will be seen in an action avatar in Akira, a thriller directed by the very talented AR Murugadoss. This will be followed by an exciting thriller Traffic, co-produced with Endemol and based on a National Award-winning Malayalam film. Later in the year, we have the hugely anticipated biopic MS Dhoni – The Untold Story, an inspiring story that every Indian and cricket lover across the globe would want to see. The story delves into the workings of one of the finest minds of modern cricket. In Diwali, we release the much-anticipated film from the very talented Karan Johar’s stable, Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, with a stellar cast consisting of Ranbir Kapoor, Anushka Sharma, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Fawad Khan.

On the other hand, our Hollywood slate is also full for 2016. After a fantastic 2014, even 2015 was a pretty good year for us. The Martian, which released on October 2, is still running successfully. 2015 was also a landmark year for Hollywood films, with two Hollywood films collecting `100 crore at the box office. There is a general upsurge of interest in genres which hitherto were considered niche in India, like the sci-fi genre (The Martian, Inception, Gravity). The Indian audience is evolving and interest in Hollywood films is growing. We are very excited for 2016, as we have the most exciting films of the year including Deadpool, The Revenant, Kung Fu Panda 3, X Men: Apocalypse, Independence Day: Resurgence and Ice Age: Collision Course!

Ajit Andhare, COO, Viacom18 Motion Pictures

Our goal has been to make films that create an impact and generate good return on investment. The big news for us in 2015 is that all VMP’s films across a slate of 10 (seven Hindi, three English) made a clear recovery and return on investment. In the context of a year that saw major hits and misses, it is a result that stands out for consistency and demonstrates that we are doing something right. It has been a Rahul Dravid innings that is measured, playing ball on merit, leaving balls outside the off stump and winning the Test match.

Both our tentpole properties – Gabbar Is Back and Drishyam – were two very different films that succeeded at the box office. Gabbar Is Back remains Akshay Kumar’s biggest hit of the year, while Drishyam ran for over 50 days in cinemas, in a release corridor that had Bjarangi Bhaijaan and Bahubali.

In the medium segment, we created a franchise with Pyaar Ka Punchnama 2 that again delivered a strong box-office result. In the mid-niche segment, we had Margarita With A Straw and Manjhi – The Mountain Man that achieved remarkable box-office numbers for their respective genres. In the English segment, we scored with MI5 and Terminator, while in the regional space, we released a Bangla film, Black and have a Marathi release coming up, titled Poshter Girl.

The trend we started of doing content-centric cinema picked up very well last year. Following the success of Kahaani, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, Queen and Mary Kom in earlier years, we saw the success of Piku, Dum Laga Ke Haisha and even Tanu Weds Manu Returns as validation of the approach we have stood for. Our endeavour is to redefine a mainstream Hindi film while producing economic returns as well as acclaim. 2015 was a watershed year in this journey.

In 2016, we will look forward to innovating further with strong films, and Rangoon reflects that approach. Also, you will see more sequels. Force 2 is a step in that direction. We have Star Trek, Ben-Hur and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in our English slate as Hollywood films are making greater inroads. We will also be active in select regional markets. You will also see newer forms of collaboration.

Aman Gill, CEO, Balaji Motion Pictures

2015 was a very lukewarm year for the industry, with only 16-18 films showing positive results for their investors. The continuing trend of content-based films finding appreciation with audiences was further strengthened. However, we only had 5-6 films doing blockbuster business at the box office, a number that needs to go up to 10-12, year-on-year, for the industry to have a healthy growth rate.

2016 looks like a very big year for the industry, with 10-15 films having the potential to do blockbuster business at the box office and multiple content-based films looking to score as well. We, at Balaji Motion Pictures, look to entertain and engage the audience with a slate of seven films this year. We start the year with super hit franchise films Kya Kool Hain Hum 3 and Great Grand Masti; followed by the intriguing XXX; then along with MSM Motion Pictures we have the riveting Azhar; followed by the thrilling Udta Punjab. Then we launch of our first super-hero film Flying Jatt and close the slate with most romantic film of the year, Half Girlfriend.

Gaurav Verma, Chief Revenue Officer, Red Chillies Entertainment

For the industry as a whole, 2015 may end up with lower box office numbers than 2014. Good content films have done well and their box office growth has been significant – Tanu Weds Manu Returns, Piku and Dum Laga Ke Haisha are a few examples. 2015 was also a year where weekend viewing consolidated with sharper drops on weekdays and it was also a year where social media made a huge impact on the outcome of films, with consumers posting reviews/comments before the movie began, during the interval and after the film. Never before has any product across sectors been put through such scrutiny.

This will be the biggest challenge for us in 2016… while a majority of Hollywood franchises and dubs couldn’t continue the momentum of 2014, for the first time, a dubbed Hindi version of Bahubali crossed `100 crore at the box office. It reflected the power of content and the audience’s hunger for good cinema.

2015 was a very important year for us at Red Chillies. We took a big leap by moving into the film monetisation space. The idea is to move towards a studio format independent of scale as it can and will grow with time. We, at RCE, have been producing and marketing our films, and this year we have successfully added capabilities to distribute films in India and overseas, which is a big and necessary step. We will be consolidating in this space in 2016. RCE had only one release – Dilwale – the film has done exceptional business in international markets. It has set new records in major territories and the film is expected to end up in the top three worldwide grossers of 2015.

Amar Butala, COO, Salman Khan Films

The year 2015 was one of good learnings for the business. The films that did well at the box office were those with good content, so films like Piku, Tanu Weds Manu Returns, Bajrangi Bhaijaan, Pyaar Ka Punchnama 2 and Dum Laga Ke Haisha had solid scripts, which means the audience is warming up to newer themes and stories as long as the film is entertaining…plain formula films seem to have taken a step back.

2015 was an incredible year for Salman Khan Films. We had two diverse releases – Hero and the blockbuster Bajrangi Bhaijaan. It is not often that a production company produces the year’s biggest box-office success in its first year. We also marketed the film completely, from strategy to execution, thereby being producers in the truest sense.

Bajrangi Bhaijaan is also actor-producer Salman Khan’s biggest overseas grosser, with over USD 30 million, breaking all his previous records. The film was invited to the Busan Film Festival among several other prestigious festivals, and it is also the highest-rated film on television this year. As the award season starts, it has already won Best Film at two prominent awards functions. SKF has had two strong partners, who have been a great support: T-Series and the Star TV Network.

Amrita Pandey, VP and Head of Marketing and Distribution, Studios, Disney India

2015 was a fabulous year for us as a studio. We entertained movie-goers and delivered a consistent performance, like in previous years, in terms of our content. Our biggest entertainer was our second Disney production, ABCD 2, which waltzed into the hearts of Indian family audiences. It was also a watershed year for our Hollywood movies, which scored big at cinemas through their diverse and phenomenal storytelling. Disney’s live-action classic Cinderella received a great response across the country and, a few months later, setting new records at cinemas, was our high-octane action-drama, Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron.

It was the first time that our partners at Pixar broke with their tradition of releasing only one outstanding animation movie a year and went on to treat audiences with a double whammy by releasing two movies – Disney.Pixar’s 3D animations Inside Out and The Good Dinosaur. We brought back smiles to the faces of fans when we released the biggest Hollywood franchise – Star Wars: The Force Awakens. While the film has been a much-awaited one for fan boys, we are glad we could bring new fans to cinemas too. I am elated to say that it was a very busy and fruitful year for us.

As we welcome the New Year, we have a super-exciting roster of releases and we will be extending our collaborations with a host of successful talent from the film industry. We will be associating with Rajkumar Hirani post PK on our first release of 2016, Saala Khadoos, which dwells on a unique coach-protégé relationship. After this, we will be working once again with Abhishek Kapoor for Fitoor, after the success of our 2013 release Kai Po Che! and Sajid Nadiadwala in Baaghi, after Heropanti in 2014.

We also have three Disney-branded movies coming up in the Ranbir Kapoor and Katrina Kaif-starrer Jagga Jasoos, Hrithik Roshan-starrer Mohenjo Daro and Aamir Khan-starrer Dangal. All three will bear witness to the faith that our talent has in us, as post Barfi!, Ranbir Kapoor and director Anurag Basu will be taking the audience on a thrilling journey. The director-actor duo of Ashutosh Gowariker and Hrithik Roshan will be treating us to Mohenjo Daro, the period drama after the success of Jodha Akbar, and Dangal will mark our association with Aamir Khan post the success of PK and director Nitesh Tiwari after his debut movie with us in Chillar Party.

Our Hollywood slate for this year comprises Disney’s animation outing Zootopia and live-action film, The Finest Hours, Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War, Disney.Pixar’s Finding Dory, a sequel to the ever-popular Finding Nemo, Disney’s Jungle Book and the next edition of Star Wars, titled Star Wars: Rogue One. We promise our viewers nothing short of an adventurous and entertaining joyride at the cinemas this year!

Nandu Ahuja, Senior Vice-President, India Theatrical, Eros International

The year 2015 was a fantastic year for Eros, with the largest number of blockbusters along with content-driven gems such as NH10 and Badlapur, Tanu Weds Manu Returns, Bajrangi Bhaijaan and the latest epic, Bajirao Mastani. We continued with our focus on regional films, with the tremendous success of Telugu blockbuster Srimanthudu and Bengali hit Bela Seshe. We have a fabulous slate for 2016, which boasts an interesting mix of content-driven and high-profile marquee films. We are looking forward to 2016!

Ratan Jain, Producer

The year 2015 was great, with Salman Khan doing Bajrangi Bhaijaan, which was heavy on content as well as a commercial release. The film proved that our stars too are looking for good films as they know the audience wants to watch content-driven cinema. NH10, Piku, Tanu Weds Manu Returns and Dum Laga Ke Haisha were all really good films which also had strong collections. Tanu Weds Manu Returns went on to enter the Rs 100-crore club. With Bahubali breaking language barriers, I hope to see many more releases like that.

Sheel Kumar, Producer

Last year was a good year, where films like Piku, Tanu Weds Manu Returns and Dum Laga Ke Haisha were surprising and did good business. It has been proved, again and again, that films with good content always work. Last year, we also saw a dubbed film, Bahubali, breaking records at the box office. And there were many letdowns but because they were low on content.

This year, we seem to have a good line-up, starting with Airlift, Rocky Handsome and Fitoor in the first half.


Abhishek Pathak, Panorama Studios

For me, Badlapur, Piku, NH10 and Dum Laga Ke Haisha were the surprises of 2015, in that, they were not typical mainstream films but yet they were very successful at the box office. Piku, for example, was a slice-of-life film and had Deepika Padukone doing a lead role in an unconventional film. The audience has rarely seen her do this and she was cast romantically opposite Irrfan Khan, who again is not a conventional hero. A lot of trade pundits would call it a risky film or an offbeat film but it connected with audiences and it worked.

As for films that did not live up to expectations, well, I can’t recall any as most of them delivered what they promised. At Panorama Studios, we had Pyaar Ka Punchnama 2, which did humongous business, so we had a fruitful year. In the upcoming year, we are looking forward to many more collaborations and some in-house films.

And the industry will have all the superstars – Ajay Devgn, Akshay Kumar, Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan, Aamir Khan and Hrithik Roshan – along with the new brigade, boasting one release at least in 2016.

Soumita Sengupta ,Rohini Nag
Collection Chart
As on 02th December, 2017
Julie 2102.10CR02.10CR
Kadvi Hawa122.37LK22.37LK
The Forest102.65LK02.65LK
Woh Bangaya Killer110.00K10.00K
An Insignificant Man112.70LK12.70LK

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Answer 10: #AjayDevgn. The film was this year’s windfall film, #GolmaalAgain!!!.

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Answer 9: The film was #LVPrasad’s #EkDuujeKeLiye starring #KamalHaasan and #RatiAgnihotri in their Hindi debuts.



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