Dharma Productions’ honcho and filmmaker Karan Johar, in a recent roundtable interaction organised by Galatta Plus, opened up about the problems that the Hindi industry is experiencing, and revealed interesting on how he calculates a film’s chances of success.
Well, it would be wrong to say that since the Covid-19 pandemic, Bollywood has not been able to return to its original form, in terms of box-office numbers despite being bigger stars featuring in them. Dissecting the problem, Karan said, “What’s happening in Hindi, the major belts — and I’m going to get slightly technical so that everybody understands — Mumbai and Delhi, which account for 60% to 70% of the number that comes in, haven't been behaving as consistently as they were pre-pandemic. So, what has been working is only the spectacle films, even if they’re dubbed films.”
KJo also maintained that ‘the biggest hits’ in the Hindi speaking belt ‘are dubbed films’ — ‘KGF: Chapter 2’, ‘RRR’ and ‘Baahubali 2’. “The market has been behaving very erratically… Always know, if the heartland and Gujarat step on board, there’s nothing stopping you. The moment those two territories are distant from your film, you can never do a very large number. So, Gujarat, and CPCI Rajasthan have to step on board, and that’s just how the business model works,” he added.
Last but not the least, he said that instead of Bollywood being the trendsetter once upon a time, Hindi filmmakers became trend-chasers in the 1980s.
“After Hum Aapke Hain Koun, everyone, including myself, decided to jump on the bandwagon of love, and Shah Rukh Khan was created. We let go of all our roots from the 70s, and in 2001 when Lagaan was nominated for an Academy Award, we were like, ‘Oh, now we’ll do these kinds of films’ right up till the 2010s. My Name is Khan is still a root of Lagaan, in my head, which was released alongside Dabangg, which again (changed trends) and people were like, ‘Now let’s start making commercial films again’. That’s the problem, we actually lack the spine and lack the conviction,” he said.
He even singled out films written by the iconic duo Salim Khan and Javed Akhtar, and said it wasn’t the right way for Hindi cinema to turn its back on Salim-Javed’s films. “We, who should be very grateful to Salim saab and Javed saab, we let go of that cinema and went to Switzerland.”
The Hindi film industry, this year, saw several A-list stars’ movies fail tragically. Of the hits, only ‘The Kashmir Files’, ‘Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2’ and ‘Drishyam 2’ managed to let the cash register ring.