Wednesday, February 28, 2024
India News

Bollywood social dramas lose traction


NEW DELHI : Hindi language comedies and dramas with relevant social messaging, which were a huge draw before the covid-19 outbreak, have lost steam at the box office post the pandemic. At that time, films such as Dangal, Bajrangi Bhaijaan and Badhaai Ho had set the cash registers ringing.

However, the genre has witnessed a spate of flops over the past few years. Mirroring the trend in Hollywood, where big spectacles and superhero films had replaced dramas by the late 2000s, trade experts say there has been an overdose of such films, leaving no distinction between home screens and theatres.

However, a few still see hope. Well-made films, such as 12th Fail, can still clock good numbers if made well, because the genre attracts family audiences. “In recent times, we’ve mostly seen a slew of action films and comedies (releasing in theatres), trying to replicate what has already been successful at the box office. That said, if made at the right scale and laced with some kind of entertainment value, social dramas, too, can find an audience even if the number of titles made falls over time,” film distributor and exhibitor Akshaye Rathi said.

He pointed to the strong social messaging even in an action film such as Jawan besides small-scale movies such as Zara Hatke Zara Bachke and Satyaprem Ki Katha that stand out as attempts made to carry the genre forward in a year like 2023 when large-scale commercial entertainers such as Pathaan and Gadar 2 dominated the box office.

“People are tired (of the genre) now; OTT has saturated that market completely. Because you see the same kind of content in theatres and at home, it has lost its value. Audiences are looking for something novel and fresh,” independent exhibitor Vishek Chauhan said, referring to recent flops such as Laal Singh Chaddha, Mission Raniganj and Raksha Bandhan.

Content genres are usually killed with over supply, Chauhan added, a trend that has also been observed in Hollywood where the superhero genre is saturated.

That said, film industry experts point out that content consumption patterns are cyclical, so every few years there is an inclination towards a certain genre that will keep changing as preferences keep evolving.

Moreover, over the past decade, there has been a fair mix of audiences that choose to step out to watch a movie in a theatre while also consuming content on OTT platforms. This tryst continues to perfectly balance itself with both formats growing parallelly, Ashish Saksena, chief operating officer, cinemas, BookMyShow said.

“At the end of the day, the quality of a film matters,” Rahul Puri, managing director, Mukta Arts and Mukta A2 Cinemas said. “If it has a connection with the audiences, admissions and collections will be good without doubt. For example, a good social drama film will have better numbers over a weak action film and vice-versa.”

The trend of comedies and dramas peppered with social messaging took off in the late 2000s with hits like 3 Idiots, which coincided with the mushrooming of multiplexes in urban areas that catered to up-market, family audiences.

Actors such as Akshay Kumar sought to cash in on the genre with films such as Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, Pad Man and Mission Mangal while newer names like Ayushmann Khurrana emerged with hits such as Badhaai Ho, Bala and Dum Laga Ke Haisha.

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Published: 25 Jan 2024, 12:01 AM IST

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