Hits and misses of 2017
Published: Thu 4 Jan 2018, 11:00 PM
Last updated: Fri 12 Jan 2018, 10:24 AM
It has been quite a year! The 12 months that just whizzed by witnessed no let-up in the ever-prolific Bollywood annual output of two to three films a week - a strenuous exercise for trade trackers, not to forget the ever-enlargening band of movie reviewers.
Controversies erupted and faded, topped by the Kangana Ranaut-Hrithik Roshan exchange of allegations and denials in print, on websites and primetime TV channels. And as streaming channels (primarily Netflix and Amazon) and web series began attracting a spiralling number of urban viewers, there were alternatives to big screen B-town movies.
Film censorship remained dicier than ever, what with the protests against Padmavati and its consequent stalemate with the Central Board of Film Certification, which didn't clear Sanjay Leela Bhansali's period pageant for its scheduled premiere on December 1.
No single genre was in favour. No-brainer actioners, knockabout comedies, social dramas with a message-y undertone, and women empowerment themes - each one of them had their sizeable constituencies. Whenever imagination and originality ran out, out popped remakes and the next editions of a franchise.
Suddenly, the buzz phrase was 'content is king', quoted by makers of medium and small-budget films devoid of A-list stars, formulaic conventions and humongous production values.
Now, it can be tricky to segue into the yearly game of listing the top cash earners. Box-office collections do indicate an approximation of the financial performance. However, in terms of the funds invested and the returns expected at the ticket windows, there's many a proverbial slip 'twixt the cup and lip.
For instance, the Shah Rukh Khan showcase Raees, the Hrithik Roshan vendetta act Kaabil and the flickering Tubelight of Salman Khan did vault into the INR100 crore-plus-more club. Yet, they did not exactly jingle the bells at the cash counters.
Here's taking stock of the success stories (I may mention the approximate net collections in the all-India market have been compiled from trade sources).
Miles and miles ahead in the hit league is S. S. Rajamouli directed Bahubali 2: The Conclusion - the mythic period drama crammed with impressive special effects, which was released in Tamil and Telugu and dubbed into Hindi. For once, the dubbing was well-executed. The Hindi version itself brought home a record-breaking sum, estimated at INR510 crore.
Tiger Zinda Hai, directed by Ali Abbas Zafar (who earlier helmed Sultan) for Yash Raj Films, topped the hit list. Salman Khan roars again, went the chant, as soon as the gun-blazing fest grabbed an overwhelming response over the opening weekend timed with the festive Christmas season.
In the opening two days, INR65 crore was registered in the account books. Right off, trade vigilantes affirmed that the sequel of Ek Tha Tiger was alive and kicking, and would surpass the INR205 crore encashed by Rohit Shetty's Golmaal Again, a rough-and-tumble slapstick comedy with shenanigans led by Ajay Devgn. It's another story that the legendary Hrishikesh Mukherjee's vintage laugh-raiser Gol Maal - about mistaken identities - is largely recalled primarily by nostalgiaphiles.
It was an upbeat 2017 for Varun Dhawan, thanks to his father David Dhawan's Judwaa 2 (INR131 crore), and Shashank Khaitan's Badrinath Ki Dulhania (INR114 crore), produced by Karan Johar with far more finesse.
Reinventing himself with life-like roles and incarnating himself as a do-gooder nationalist proved to be Akshay Kumar's calling card with Toilet: Ek Prem Katha and Jolly LLB 2, with both the films scoring on the cushier side of INR100 crore-plus. The changeover from the fist-flaying Khiladi and Rowdy Rathore appears to have done him a world of good. Fingers crossed.
The London-located Mubarakan (INR54.76 crore), directed by Anees Bazmee, was meant to extract laughter from a double-role mix-up (as was Judwaa 2) and was redeemed considerably by the acting chutzpah of the undervalued Pavan Malhotra and thanks to Anil Kapoor getting avuncular with his real-life nephew Arjun Kapoor.
The obstacles strewn in small-town romances were overcome successfully by Ayushmann Khurrana in the ticklish Shubh Mangal Savdhan (INR42 crore), directed by R. Prasanna and produced by Aanand L Rai of Tanu Weds Manu fame, as well as the wittily scripted Bareilly Ki Barfi (INR34 crore) directed Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari.
Aamir Khan made his presence felt as the producer of Secret Superstar (INR62.51 crore), directed by Advait Chandan. Appearing in a key role, the actor injected that vital dash of humour in the story of a teenaged girl who dreams of becoming a singer, sensitively played by Zaira Wasim, introduced by the Khan in Dangal.
There were two surprise packets. One, the irony-laden study of the education system via Saket Chaudhary's Hindi Medium (INR63 crore). It was remarkable particularly for Irrfan Khan's performance as a befuddled parent caught between the dilemma of sticking to his middle class roots and going upmarket.
And two, the ensemble comedy Fukrey Returns (approaching INR75 crore) directed by Mrighdeep Singh Lamba for producers Farhan Akhtar and Ritesh Sidhwani. Distinctly goofball-ish in tenor, the frantic antics were enacted with gusto, especially by Richa Chadda, Varun Sharma and Pankaj Tripathi.
The quality quotient paid off handsomely in the cases of Suresh Triveni's Tumhari Sulu (in the region of INR34 crore) anchored by a reliably high-calibre act by Vidya Balan, Amit Masurkar's Newton (INR22.18 crore) with superbly nuanced performances by Rajkummar Rao, Pankaj Tripathi, and Alankrita Shrivastava's Lipstick Under My Burkha (INR16.52 crore), a bold unveiling of gender politics.
That, then, was the 2017 hit list of Bollywood, where the dream factory never sleeps. Once in a blue moon, though, it does get real.