The term box-office was literally nowhere, unheard or given the less significance until it found its foothold with the film named “GHAJINI” which become the first Bollywood film to cross 100cr mark. Since then, the Industry started glorifying the number game and the piece of cinema lost its way. Glorifying figures was not intentional though but it soon became the hot topic in the tinseltown. Within few years the films started crossing 100cr mark one after the other. The producers, financiers and studios were on cloud nine and riding high on success, but they didn’t realized one thing that they’ve created a Frankenstein’s monster which will not only change the audiences perception towards cinema but it will also take away its credibility.
Early the film business used to matter to only few people like the Producer, Distributor, Exhibitor and Trade analyst but nowadays even a 12 year old kid is concerned about how much a film will earn on its first day, what will be its first weekend collection, how will it do on weekdays, the second weekend and so on. Hence, today it’s everybody’s business which isn’t a direct but an indirect threat to films and filmmakers. Today a film is judged on the basis of how much it earns on the
box- office. The box-office decides the fate of any film today. But, isn’t the box-office just giving us the information about how many people watched the film? It doesn’t tell us how many liked it or disliked it, right? So how do we reach to a conclusion whether the film is good or bad? Well, doesn’t the content, performance and direction decide that? If not, then what does, the numbers?
The filmmakers and producers who once had the pats on their backs for their films crossing 100cr mark and going beyond that, are now looking to get out of this system as the number game has started bouncing back on them. The pressure of crossing the 100cr mark has now turned into a nightmare for many of them. The stakes are getting higher and the films are even failing to recover their cost of production. Today the promotional budgets of the films are equal to the cost of production or even higher than that. Today actors promote their films like anything so their film can open to good numbers.
Even if the speculations’ about the actors signing films and bagging a project comes out, the prediction about his or her fate at the box-office comes on the card before the film itself. The actors are here to act, aren’t they? So why do we use them as a money printing machine? Why every Shahrukh Khan, Salman Khan and Aamir Khan film needs to cross a certain amount of numbers at the box-office? Why can’t we have more films like “Dear Zindagi” or “Dhobi Ghat” or an upcoming “Secret Superstar” where there is no pressure of box-office, where we can see the actor playing and living the character. The burden of commerce is closing doors for experimentation and creativity.
Cinema is said to be a mixture of art and commerce, but now it looks like the art is fading away. Industry seems to be divided into two. One part of the industry makes projects whereas the other part makes films. One pays their writers to draft an incredible screenplay where the other pays their music directors to create or recreate a chartbuster song. The money spin at the box- office has changed the dynamics of filmmaking. For instance a film which is high on content and budget as well shines on the box-office and create some earth-shattering records, a blockbuster what we called it as declared as a massive hit. But, still in spite of being cinematically rich and breaking grounds in terms of filmmaking, nobody talks about the art and effort that went behind creating that piece, all we hear and read about how much it earned and how many records it broke.
The film was supposed to be a medium through which one could express and not encash.
So let’s try not to burden the cinema anymore with the money game and just enjoy each slice of it.