In our edit note last week, (Genre-ally Speaking 1: A Tale Of Many Tales, issue dated May 27, 2017) we had commented on how the genre pool of successful Hindi films has widened considerably in the last few years. We had done so by looking at the Top 10 films of each year ever since this publication was launched in 2009, and trying to map them with their dominant genre/s. In case you missed it, you can check out that editorial – or indeed, other pieces in our archive – in the Take One section of our website, www.boxofficeindia.co.in
What we had failed to achieve in that note was actually identifying the pecking order within these genres. The task was made difficult by the fact that trends fluctuated quite widely, year-on-year, and indeed, that was pretty much the point of that particular note – the absence of a dominant genre, unlike in earlier eras.
However, as promised, this week, we shall try and sift through the data and see if we can identify a winner. And the tool we are employing in this task is as basic as it is germane – box office collections! Ticket sales, after all, are the most objective measure of a film’s performance and collections are the holy grail of the film trade… and its favourite publication!
So what we have done is compiled and compared the domestic collections of the genre break-up of the Top 10 films across the last few years that we had presented last week. The results are presented in the table below:
Multistoried Asset: Genre-wise collections of Top 10 Films, 2009-16
*All figures rounded-off to the nearest crore
There you have it. With Action/Thrillers topping the charts in five out of eight years, and Dramas doing so in the remaining 3, there can be no disputing that they have been the top two genres of the Hindi box office over the last few years. And that conclusion is further confirmed when we look at the cumulative figures for the entire period under review, as below:
However, while the tables above would certainly attest to the supremacy of Action and Drama – in that order – at the box office, they equally strongly convey a state of unpredictability and flux, which has been a recurring theme in the course of this two-part genre analysis.
And that is best illustrated by the fact that while Action/Thrillers were number 1 for an uninterrupted period of five years from 2010-2014, the last couple of years have seen that genre languish at the bottom half of the table. Conversely, Drama, which has been by some margin the dominant genre of the last two years, was in last place before this run began.
What is also discernible is the emergence of Biopics/Historicals and Sports-based films as bankable genres over the years. From being virtually non-existent in the first half of the table, they have gradually grown in prominence – so much so that they outperformed such staple genres as Action, Romance and Comedy last year. Moreover, and this is perhaps a tad exaggerated by the low base effect, when you actually look at the average collections per film, Sports-based films and Biopics actually provide the most bang-for-your-buck, so to speak.
To conclude this two-part series, if the last decade or so has seemed somewhat disorienting in the absence of a dominant genre unlike in past eras, we need not wonder whether it is our imagination playing tricks on us, the data confirms that we do indeed live in a volatile time.
The lack of a ‘safe’ genre can be frightening for filmmakers pondering their next project… but it can be liberating too. Because now, more than ever before, they can avoid the path of least resistance – because none exists any more – and follow their hearts. And that, as history reminds us again and again, is where great stories and films emerge from.