The scramble for good content threw up some interesting winners in 2016, with Hindi filmmakers learning that language doesn’t really matter
It’s that time of the year again. With the ball about to drop on 2016 and the dawn of a promising 2017 upon us, we analyse the business of films at the box office this year.
The year 2016 kick-started with January releases Wazir, Chalk N Duster, Airlift, Kyaa Kool Hain Hum 3, Saala Khadoos and Mastizaade, with only Akshay Kumar’s Airlift charming the audience and box-office counters. The next stop was February, which had Ghayal Once Again, Sanam Teri Kasam, Fitoor, Sanam Re, Loveshhuda, Neerja, Aligarh and Tere Bin Laden Dead Or Alive, among others. It was Neerja that not only impressed the trade but also the critics.
March saw Zubaan, Jai GangaaJal, Teraa Surroor, Kapoor & Sons and Rocky Handsome. Kapoor & Sons won many hearts along with box-office accolades. With a mixed bag of Hollywood and Hindi releases in the first quarter of 2016, this quarter was much better than the first quarter of last year.
The second quarter of the year began with a bang, with Ki & Ka performing well at ticket windows. This was followed by Shah Rukh Khan’s Fan, Nil Battey Sannata, Randeep Hooda’s Laal Rang, and Sajid Nadiadwala’s Baaghi featuring Tiger Shroff and Shraddha Kapoor. May had not one but three biopics – Emraan Hashmi’s Azhar, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Randeep Hooda starrer Sarbjit and Ram Gopal Varma’s Veerappan.
June saw Akshay Kumar, Abhishek Bachchan, Ritesh Deshmukh and Jacqueline Fernandez featuring in the third instalment of the Housefull series; Randeep Hooda and Kajal Aggarwal’s Do Lafzon Ki Kahani; Amitabh Bachchan and Vidya Balan starrer Te3n; Abhishek Chaubey’s Udta Punjab featuring Shahid Kapoor, Alia Bhatt, Kareena Kapoor Khan and Diljit Dosanjh; Anurag Kashyap’s Raman Raghav 2.0 featuring Nawazuddin Siddiqui along with Vicky Kaushal; and Pulkit Samrat and Yami Gautam’s Junooniyat.
The third quarter of the year began with Eid release, Salman Khan and Anushka Sharma’s Sultan, followed by Great Grand Masti, Madaari and Rohit Dhawan’s Dishoom featuring John Abraham, Varun Dhawan and Jacqueline Fernandez.
In August, we saw Ashutosh Gowariker’s Mohenjo Daro featuring Hrithik Roshan, Akshay Kumar and Ileana D’Cruz starrer Rustom, followed by Happy Bhag Jayegi, and Sonakshi Sinha’s Akira. September kick-started with Katrina Kaif and Sidharth Malhotra’s Baar Baar Dekho; and Sohail Khan’s Freaky Ali featuring Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Arbaaz Khan and Amy Jackson. Then there was Vikram Bhatt’s Raaz Reboot featuring Emraan Hashmi; Amitabh Bachchan and Taapsee Pannu’s Pink; Riteish Deshmukh and Nargis Fakhri’s Banjo; and Neeraj Pandey’s M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story featuring Sushant Singh Rajput.
October saw Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s Mirzya introducing Harshvardhan Kapoor and Saiyami Kher; and Sonu Sood’s Tutak Tutak Tutiya featuring Sood along with Prabhudheva and Tamannaah. Ajay Devgn’s Shivaay and Karan Johar’s Ae Dil Hai Mushkil featuring Ranbir Kapoor, Anushka Sharma and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan released during the Diwali festivities.
November started with Farhan Akhtar, Shraddha Kapoor and Arjun Rampal’s Rock On 2, alongside Harry Baweja’s animated feature Chaar Sahibzaade: Rise Of Banda Singh Bahadur and Dongri Ka Raja. The month also saw Anubhav Sinha’s Tum Bin 2, John Abraham and Sonakshi Sinha’s Force 2, followed by Shah Rukh Khan and Alia Bhatt’s Dear Zindagi directed by Gauri Shinde. December started with Vidya Balan’s Kahaani 2 directed by Sujoy Ghosh.
The year 2016 also saw Hollywood flick The Jungle Book taking the Indian box office by surprise and crossing the Rs.100-crore mark; Sultan crossing the Rs.300-crore mark; three of Akshay Kumar’s releases, each crossing the Rs.100-crore mark; Neeraj Pandey’s M.S. Dhoni…; Karan Johar’s Ae Dil Hai Mushkil and Ajay Devgn’s Shivaay crossing the Rs.100-crore mark, adding up to over Rs.1,100 crore for just these eight releases.
With such a mixed bag of films, from content-rich films to masala entertainers, small to big films, multi-starrers to biopics and sequels, 2016 impressed tradewallahs and the audience alike. In the next three weeks, Aditya Chopra’s Befikre featuring Ranveer Singh and Vaani Kapoor will hit the screens on December 9. Next, T-Series’ Wajah Tum Ho will release on December 16. The month of December and the year 2016 will conclude with Aamir Khan’s Dangal, releasing on the Christmas weekend, December 23. All these have huge expectations attached to them.
This week, we quiz producers, who name the winners this year and explain what 2016 has been like for the film industry. They also name the films they believe hit a home run. Here’s what they had to say:
The film industry is undergoing a drastic change as content is not working. We need to check our work and trim the flab. The audience today is looking for out-of-the-box content and, as filmmakers, we have to keep looking out for real stories.
Ramesh Taurani, Producer
According to me, the best films this year were Sultan, Kapoor & Sons, Airlift, Neerja, Pink, M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story, Ki & Ka and Baaghi. Overall, 2016 was not very good for Bollywood films and that has nothing to do with Hollywood releases. Hollywood has an altogether different market. But I still think films like Befikre, Dangal and Kahaani 2 will be able to make up for the losses of 2016. The year was good for our company as we had two Punjabi releases, the super hit Ambarsariya and Kaptaan, which did decent business at the box office.
Ratan Jain, Producer
We are definitely progressing as an industry, where content is becoming the focus. There was a time when we were making only remakes but it is no longer about following a trend. It’s about creating new content, something which audiences have not seen before. That’s why real-life stories are appealing to audiences. Neerja, Airlift and Pink are some examples where content has ruled the box office. Business-wise, we haven’t made much of a profit, which means we need to concentrate more on content. Dangal is yet to release, so let’s hope it makes up for some of the losses the industry has suffered.
This year has been really good for the industry and also for us. We had acquired a lot of films and we made profit in all the film. So for us at Pen the year has been great. Films that really stood out were Airlift, Neerja, Kapoor & Sons, Baaghi, Housefull 3, Shivaay, Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, Pink, who made good business at the box office along with the content of these films were very good. So I believe 2016 has been a very good year for everyone.
Aanand L Rai, Filmmaker
This year saw a mix of commercial and content-heavy films, and content-rich films also earned good business. But, I believe, as directors, it is our responsibility to make more content-rich films. The audience is evolving and they are not waiting for us; their growth is more than ours. One can no longer fool people with trailers, where you promise something and the film has something else. We need to tighten our belts and get strict with content. We have no dearth of writers in India but what we need are talented writers who script the right content.