One of the year’s most eagerly awaited films with one of India’s biggest draws has failed and upset some, just when producers thought the tide had turned…
By Rodrigues C
THE MONSOON, though delayed, have finally hit Mumbai with a vengeance, thereby cooling down the weather considerable. Arguably, this is the best news to come out of the city of dreams these last few days. The bad news is for the city paparazzi and the millions of fans of Bollywood glam.
Shutterbugs follow films stars all over the city 24/7 on bikes and the constant downpour disrupts their timelines, which means fewer photos for the hordes of fans as well. Thanks to Mumbai photogs, the whole country gets its daily Bollywood fare on a platter day in day out, something that is beautifully documented by the Qatari network Al Jazeera in a 25-minute film (see below for the link).
Now, let’s talk about the talk of town, which is of course, you guessed it, ‘Adipurush’, an adaptation of ‘The Ramayana’. Released on June 16, the ill-fated film started with a bang, minting £27 million in its opening weekend worldwide.
Featuring one of India’s biggest starts – Prabhas – from the ‘Baahubali’ movies, he was part of a franchise that has generated over £900m at the box office. Despite his more recent flops, he probably helped in securing a surge early on, but the film failed to gather momentum after an initial promising opening weekend.
The following Monday, the film hit rock bottom with a meagre £750,000. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday were far worse, £450,000, £310,000 and £210,000, respectively.
Friday was slightly better at £2m, despite competing with the new release ‘Zara Hatke Zara Bachke’. Saturday and Sunday’s collections took the Prabhas-Saif Ali Khan-Kriti Sanon thriller’s second week collection to £9m. So, far the film has raked in £45m worldwide.
So, what went wrong with this much anticipated film, which is believed to be budgeted around a monster figure of £50m to £60m?
It’s probably the dialogue, informal language and unpopular representations of some characters from ‘The Ramayana’, which didn’t go well with the masses.
A day after its release, ‘Adipurush’ became a punchbag.
In fact, lyricist and dialogue writer Manoj Muntashir Shukla requested the Mumbai police provide him protection after an outfit in Madhya Pradesh threated to kill him and director Om Raut.
Posters of the film were torn and screenings disrupted in several parts of the country.
The All India Cine Workers Association (AICWA) wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, requesting him to ban the screening of the movie in theatres and OTT platforms in the coming months.
Actor Arun Govil, who played Lord Ram in Ramanand Sagar’s masterpiece ‘Ramayana’ on TV several years back weighed into too – criticising the makers of ‘Adipurush’.
On June 18, the filmmakers decided to alter some of its dialogue due to the outrage. The first police complaint against the makers of the film was lodged on June 19 in Lucknow. Kathmandu mayor Balen Shah banned the film in the city due to a line which he found offensive.
Earlier this week, the Allahabad High Court, while hearing a Public Interest Litigation against the movie, urged filmmakers not to make movies on religious texts and reprimanded ‘Adipurush’ makers.
The court directed the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) to submit personal affidavits in response to pleas against the screening of the film. The court also said the movie has hurt people’s sentiments.
So, after the glory that ‘Pathaan’ brought to the Indian box office, the misery seems to be back with ‘Adipurush’, which is looking at huge losses.
With the half year mark, only two other films have made money in Bollywood, ‘Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan’ and ‘The Kerala Story’.
Kartik Aaryan’s Shehzada, Akshay Kumar-starrer ‘Selfiee‘, director Vishal Bhardwaj’s ‘Kuttey‘, Ajay Devgn’s ‘Bholaa’ Rajkummar Rao’s ‘Bheed‘ and Aditya Roy Kapur’s ‘Gunraah’ are the other flops of this year.
Losses are mounting for cinema chains as well and India’s biggest, PVR INOX, with 1,650 screens in more than 100 cities, reported a loss of £33m for the March 31, 2023 quarter. The company is planning to shut down 50 screens this year.
The coming months will see a lot in theatres such as ‘Tiger 3’, ‘Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani’, ‘Gadar 2’, ‘Animal’, ‘OMG2’, ‘Dunki’, ‘Jawan’, ‘Ganapath – Part 1’ and ‘Fukrey 3’.
The year’s second half looks much more exciting than the first in terms of big releases. Surely, time will tell… by the time the seasonal rains depart from India, the situation should be clearer.
Was ‘Pathaan’ just a joyous peak with audiences celebrating returning to the theatre in droves to watch a classic Bollywood blockbuster movie with massive stars – Shah Rukh Khan and Deepika Padukone – in familiar avatars?
Or was it a signal that content still matters over style and the star system – and that Bollywood cannot just plunder ancient stories without due care and consideration and expectations audiences will just turn out, because it is about the country’s heritage and culture.
India’s Celebratory Hunters – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sXK5p8V6Nx0