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Salman’s ‘Sultan’ vs Aamir’s ‘Dangal’ mark 2016 contest in lacklustre Bollywood year

MUMBAI: For the business of Hindi films, 2016 was largely an average year as it witnessed several shocking flops and mediocre performances at the box office.

The jolt spread to studios and darkened their outlook on the future profitability of Bollywood movies unless course corrections were made. Disney India and Balaji Telefilms reviewed and suspended their film production businesses. Even Eros International became cautious and did not go ahead with some big titles. Despite the success of Aamir Khan’s ‘Dangal’ coming at the fag end of the year, there wasn’t enough cheer to spread. The consensus was that budgets had to be right-sized and star costs had to fall.

In a year that possibly saw a de-growth in box-office revenues, streamlining costs is a compulsion. A total of 120 Hindi films were released in 2016, of which only eight Bollywood films entered the Rs 100-crore club.

The alarming truth is that in a quarter which saw the release of ‘The Jungle Book’, Hollywood actually did better than Bollywood at the box office.

8 movies in Rs 100-cr club

SultanAs in 2015, Salman Khan rightly remained the king of this year’s box-office collection with his single release ‘Sultan’. Produced by Yash Raj Films, the film earned Rs 300 crore (Rs 3 billion) in the domestic market and Rs 584.25 crore worldwide. Starring Anushka Sharma in the female lead, it also became the only film of the year to gross Rs 180.36 crore in its first weekend.

The year was a classic fight between ‘Sultan’ and ‘Dangal’, a biopic of wrestler Mahavir Singh Phogat and his family. The ultimate winner will be known in early 2017 as ‘Dangal’ entered the ring only on 23 December. The movie had mopped up Rs 192.29 crore until 31 December. Now it is close to entering the Rs 300-crore club.

DangalJoining the Rs 100-crore club in its first weekend, ‘Dangal’ surpassed Aamir Khan’s ‘PK’, which took four days to cross the mark. On Day 3, the total net weekend collection stood at Rs 106.95 crore (gross collection at Rs 148.45 crore) including Rs 1.07 crore from the Tamil and Telugu markets.

The box office saw the release of some big-budget films like ‘Airlift’, ‘Sultan’, ‘Aae Dil Hai Mushkil’, ‘Shivaay’, ‘Mohenjo Daro’, ‘Dishoom’, ‘Fan’, ‘Fitoor’ and ‘Housefull 3’.

Just eight Bollywood films entered the Rs 100-crore club in 2016.

The 100-cr Bollywood club

  • ‘Sultan’ – Rs 300 cr
  • ‘Dangal’ – Rs 192 cr
  • ‘Ms Dhoni’ – Rs 132 cr
  • ‘Airlift’ – Rs 129 cr
  • ‘Rustom’ – Rs 127 cr
  • ‘Aae Dil hai Mushkil’ – Rs 112 cr
  • ‘Housefull 3’ – Rs 107 cr
  • ‘Shivaay’ – Rs 100 cr

AirliftIn 2016, three films of Akshay Kumar entered the 100-crore club. They are ‘Airlift’, ‘Rustom’ and ‘Housefull 3’. Two of these films—Raja Krishna Menon’s ‘Airlift’ and Neeraj Pandey’s ‘Rustom’—were based on real-life events.

The Indian war thriller film ‘Airlift’, which was made with a budget of Rs 30 crore, earned Rs 129 crore at the box office.

Interestingly, ‘Rustom’, which was released on 12 August along with Hrithik Roshan’s much-anticipated ‘Mohenjo Daro’, earned Rs 127 crore. Sajid Nadiadwala’s ‘Housefull 3’, the third instalment of the ‘Housefull’ franchise, continued the streak of crossing the 100-crore mark, earning a total of Rs 107 crore.

RustomSushant Singh Rajput’s ‘MS Dhoni: The Untold Story’, a biopic on India’s cricket team captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, earned Rs 132 crore.

Dharma Production’s ‘Aae Dil Hai Mushkil’, starring Ranbir Kapoor, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Anushka Sharma and Fawad Khan, saw several hurdles during the release. Despite facing the heat of demonetisation and criticism because of the presence of a Pakistani actor in the cast, the film succeeded in amassing Rs 112 crore.

With a budget of over 80 crore, ‘Shivaay’ was the most expensive film released by Ajay Devgn Films. The adventure thriller released alongside of Karan Johar’s ‘Aae Dil Hai Mushkil’ earned around Rs 100 crore.

Also, Walt Disney Pictures’ American fantasy adventure film ‘The Jungle Book’ became the highest-grossing Hollywood film of all time in India by garnering over Rs 250 crore at the box office. Besides English, the film was released in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu.

Content trends in Bollywood

BaaghiProduction houses and directors showed a lot of boldness by pushing their boundaries and dabbling with some sensitive and strong subjects. Directors also took chances with different forms of narratives through films like ‘Fan’, ‘Aligarh’, ‘Ki & Ka’, ‘Udta Punjab’, ‘Parched’, ‘Baaghi’, ‘Kapoor & Sons’ and ‘Pink’. From mental awareness to LGBT rights and women empowerment to dysfunctional family, the films dealt with them all.

Though these films failed to cross the 100-crore benchmark, ‘Fan’ earned Rs 85 crore at the box office, ‘Neerja’ Rs 75 crore and ‘Baaghi’ Rs 76 crore. This year around 54 films performed well at the box office.

Several films featuring female protagonists were produced such as ‘Neerja’, ‘Jazba’, ‘Sarabjit’, ‘Parched’, ‘Udta Punjab’, ‘Pink’, ‘Kahaani 2’, ‘Jai Gangaajal’, ‘Akira’ and ‘Phobia’. The year also saw the release of some musical films like ‘Rock On 2’, ‘Mirzya’, ‘Banjo’, ‘Sanam Teri Kasam’, ‘Sanam Re’ and ‘Tum Bin’.

Flops of 2016

Mohenjo DaroThe year also bore witness to some shocking flops. Around 66 films flopped at the box office. One such film was Disney India and Ashutosh Gowarikar’s much-anticipated film ‘Mohenjo Daro’. The Hrithik Roshan-starrer was made with a budget of Rs 120 crore, but it was able to earn only 58 crore at the box office.

Some of the other films that didn’t fare well at the box office were UTV Motion Pictures’ ‘Fitoor’, Dharma Production and Excel Entertainment’s ‘Baar Baar Dekho’, Excel Entertainment’s ‘Rock On 2’, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s ‘Mirziya’, and Boundscript Motion Pictures and Pen India’s ‘Kahaani 2.’

2016 bad for sequels

The year was equally bad for sequels, as out of 13 sequels only ‘Housefull 3’ succeeded at the box office.

Sequels in 2016

  • ‘1920 London’
  • ‘Kya Kool Hain Hum 3’
  • ‘Ghayal Once Again’
  • ‘Tere Bin Ladein: Dead or Alive’
  • ‘Jai Gangaajal’
  • ‘Housefull 3’
  • ‘Great Grand Masti’
  • ‘Raaz Reboot’
  • ‘MSG’
  • ‘Force 2’
  • ‘Rock On 2’
  • ‘Kahaani 2’


Housefull 3The year was not particularly great for newcomers either. Harshvardhan Kapoor, Saiyami Kher and Pooja Hegde were some of the most talked-about debutantes, but they all failed to impress. Bollywood didn’t fare well with the superhero genre as well: Tiger Shroff failed to impress the audience with ‘A Flying Jatt’.

Hollywood movies that made a mark in India

The-Jungle-Book-coverIn early 2016, Hollywood took on Bollywood with the release of Walt Disney Pictures’ ‘The Jungle Book’. The film did a record-breaking business of over Rs 250 crore, followed by Sony Pictures’ ‘The Conjuring 2’, which amassed more than Rs 83 crore.

Other films such as ‘Star Trek Beyond’, ‘Jack Reacher: Never Go Back’, ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows’ and ‘Doctor Strange’ all performed well at the box office. ‘Captain America: Civil War’, ‘X-Men: Apocalypse’, ‘The Angry Birds Movie’, ‘Don’t Breathe’, ‘Spotlight’, ‘Finding Dory’, ‘Moana’ and ‘Kung Fu Panda 3’ also did decent business in India.

  • ‘The Jungle Book’ – Rs 250 cr
  • ‘Conjuring 2’ – Rs 83 cr
  • ‘Star Trek Beyond’ – Rs 82 cr
  • ‘Jack Reacher: Never Go Back’ – Rs 72 cr
  • ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows’ – Rs 64 cr
  • ‘Doctor Strange’ – Rs 10.10 cr

Regional-language films

In the regional filmdom, ‘Sairat’ became the first Marathi film to cross the 100-crore mark.

Sairat_Marathi_PosterSuperstar Rajinikanth’s gangster-drama film ‘Kabali’, released in three languages (Tamil, Telugu and Hindi), earned around Rs 205 crore at the domestic market. The film gave stiff competition to Salman Khan’s ‘Sultan’ as it earned Rs 48 crore on its day of release while ‘Sultan’ minted Rs 36.5 crore on the first day of its run.

Some of the films that worked well in the regional cinema circuit were ‘Chauthi Koot’ (Punjabi), ‘Natsamrat’ (Marathi), ‘Thithi’ (Kannada), ‘Visaranai’ (Tamil), ‘Kothanodi’ (Assamese), ‘Kammatipaadam’ (Malayalam), ‘Shankhachil’ (Bengali) and ‘Wrong Side Raju’ (Gujarati). These films were part of several international film festivals.

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