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Broken Record

Like a faulty firework that fizzles out after sizzling briefly, last week’s Diwali release, Thugs Of Hindostan, failed to live up to its massive hype and potential and crashed soon after registering a massive day one.

Despite its disappointing performance that has sent shockwaves through the trade, the film managed to collect over Rs 100 crore in the course of its extended first weekend. This is close on the heels of Badhaai Ho’s fabulous, and somewhat unexpected, conquest of the three-figure mark.

With the so-called Club 100 now expanded with the addition of these two new members, we have so far had 11 Hindi films going past the Rs 100-crore mark at the domestic box office during the course of this year. Even though the year isn’t over yet and there are still some potential centurions scheduled for release during the weeks that remain, 2018 has already set a new record for the highest number of `100-crore+ films in a year, bettering the previous high of nine such films in 2012.

Here’s the updated roster of box office centurions, in order of their date of release:

While Thugs Of Hindostan may be the 65th entrant in a list that is not only quite substantial but also one that is being added to with increasing frequency, it is pertinent to remember that at around this time ten years ago, we didn’t have a single Hindi film that had managed to clock that magical number.

It was Ghajini that first went where no Hindi film had gone before following its Christmas Day release in 2008. The momentum slowly gathered steam with the following couple of years delivering one and two centurions, respectively, before the tons started flowing with a degree of regularity – each subsequent year has yielded at least five such films.

What is also interesting – and encouraging – to note upon a closer study of the table is the extent to which this landmark has been democratised and become more accessible over the years i.e. the increasing number of stars/actors that have delivered `100-crore+ films.

For the first four years – and the first nine films – this achievement was exclusive to a handful of superstars, namely: Aamir Khan, Salman Khan, Ajay Devgn and Shah Rukh Khan. Subsequent years and films saw a substantial increase in these ranks, with stars like Hrithik Roshan, Akshay Kumar, Ranbir Kapoor, Farhan Akhtar, Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh, Alia Bhatt, Arjun Kapoor, Kangana Ranaut, Varun Dhawan and Sushant Singh Rajput joining the bandwagon.

And 2018 has seen that welcome trend broaden and accelerate like never before – in addition to a bunch of superstar-led centuries, a diverse mix of talents like Tiger Shroff, Kartik Aaryan, Rajkummar Rao and Ayushmann Khurrana have delivered their first tons this year.

A similar trend is apparent in the progressive expansion of the range of content/genres that have struck box-office gold over the years. Initially monopolised by action and comedy, Club 100 has gradually acquired a more diverse narrative palette. Again, nothing demonstrates this better than the current year in which we have seen the milestone being crossed by an eclectic mix of films – from biopics to rom-coms to period dramas to horror comedies to espionage thrillers to massy actioners to slice-of-life dramedies to sports films and more.

So while the Diwali festivities this year may have been dampened somewhat with Thugs Of Hindostan proving to be damp squib, we can at least take some heart from this year’s record-breaking performance in terms of box office centurions, as also a broadening of our bankable talent base and our thematic options.

Moreover, with the year not done yet and such potential blockbusters as Zero and Simmba waiting in the wings – not to mention the potential surprise packages that have defined 2018 – it is virtually a given that this record tally will be further added to before we turn the calendar over.

Records are meant to be broken, as the cliché goes, and as far as this particular record is concerned, the trade would like nothing more than for it to be repeatedly bettered year after year.

Amen to that!

- Nitin Tej Ahuja 

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