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Bollywood Exposed: Can a film be declared a HIT by fake numbers?

In our second part series we discuss how trade experts decide which film is a HIT and which is a FLOP…

Every week trade experts give their verdict and declare a film a hit or a flop, there are also films that fall in the bracket of average earners. Recently the Kaabil and Raees clash was declared as a success for both these films by trade pundits. Every Friday a film comes out and its box office verdict is sealed by Monday. But can trade experts be trusted? On what basis is a film declared a commercial success in today’s time? Our industry expert Akshaye Rathi (exhibitor and distributor) answers some valid and important questions in the second part of our ‘Bollywood Exposed’ series…

Akshaye, how is a film declared a HIT in today’s time?

In terms of the actuals, if you want to judge by the real barometers for a hit or a flop, then it is very simple – the returns on investment. If you spend Rs 10 crore to make a film and Rs 5 crore for the publicity and advertising cost, then your total landed cost is Rs 15 crore. And if through your revenues, you do a business of more than Rs 15 crore and you have a profit, then the film is a hit. If your cost of production plus your publicity and advertising cost plus the distribution cost that you spend is more than your revenue, then it is a flop.

So what is a profit making film in today’s scenario?

A film with a positive return of investment is a profit making one, period!

Do you think a third party company for providing accurate box office figures like a Rentrak or a comScore will help get some authenticity and transparency in the Indian market?

It certainly can, but the application of Rentrak on particular films will ultimately be permitted by the producers. And unless they do that, there is nobody who can help. In fact, nobody is ready to take Rentrak on board coz they don’t want transparency. They want to create a perception about shit films being hit films and it is about massaging egos more than being realistic and truthful. It is a bit unfortunate.

The other thing that irritates me is the fact that everyone suddenly is interested in the collections of a movie. The figures are meant for the producers. What is meant for the consumption of the audience is the film and not the figures. But to have people on Twitter, every fan of a star, discussing the collections and arguing about which figures are authentic and which are inflated, is actually none of their business. If you are a fan of Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan, Aamir Khan, Akshay Kumar, Ajay Devgn, Hrithik Roshan, then go and watch their films. Don’t bother about their collections. The collections should matter to the producers, distributors and exhibitors. Let them handle that reality.

What the audience needs to judge is whether they enjoyed the film, whether they had a paisa vasool experience and a good time or not? It is very unfortunate that rather than enjoying cinema, we as an audience have become so corrupted, that we have somewhere stopped enjoying movies. If you go on the streets these days and ask people how is Jolly LLB 2, people will say, ‘Nahi yaar, ab tak toh picture ne x crore hi kamaya hai, mazza nahi aaya. Achi nahi hai (No, the film has just earned Rs x crore till now, so I don’t think it is that great).” So without seeing the film, people pass a judgment based on these collections, which is not good. I think all the producers need to take an initiative to stop giving these figures. The figures are for the trade, while the movies are for the audience to consume.

Does this ploy of inflating figures also affect the industry in an adverse manner?

By creating this kind of perception around films being hit while they are not, producers are digging their own graves coz they are letting these stars believe that their films are hit, while they are not. And the more you try to build a perception of a film being a hit, the more people will run behind the star to sign them for insane amounts of money, that they actually don’t even deserve. Ultimately, this is not good for the health of the film. An actor who cannot get you an opening of more than Rs 5 crore, cannot be paid Rs 10 crore. But unfortunately, for a lot of these mid-level stars, this is what is happening.

Watch out for our third and final part of the ‘Bollywood Exposed’ series tomorrow…