Bollywood films that turned box office hits on word-of-mouth buzz

Notwithstanding a lacklustre opening, a few Bollywood films have managed to make money, purely due to word-of-mouth publicity

A big budget and big names are generally perceived as the most crucial ingredients for a film's success at the box office. Movies with a good content don't always win financially, but they might have more staying power. In an encouraging trend over the last few years, there has been a lot of talk about word-of-mouth publicity affecting a movie's business — swamping even critics' reviews.

Ayushmann Khurrana
'Dum Laga Ke Haisha' starring Ayushmann Khurrana and Bhumi Pednekar opened to dull houses, but its business picked up gradually, courtesy word-of-mouth buzz. As of Monday, the film's collections  had almost touched Rs 18 crore

The latest example is 'Dum Laga Ke Haisha' (DLKH) starring Ayushmann Khurrana and Bhumi Pednekar, which had a poor opening on the day of its release. But positive word-of-mouth has helped the Sharat Kataria film draw big crowds to the theatres in its second week, in spite of two apparent disadvantages: Ayushmann's last outing 'Hawaizaada' tanked at the box office and Bhumi being a new face. Until Monday, it had raked in Rs 17.5 crore.

A still from Dum Laga Ke Haisha
A still from 'Dum Laga Ke Haisha'

Trade analyst Taran Adarsh says, "In the current scenario, word-of-mouth can make or break a film. I remember when Queen released, it failed to score at the box office initially. But later, we all know what happened. Similar is the case with 'Dum Laga Ke Haisha' — its numbers have slowly picked up and it is going strong at the box office. In an age where we have various social media platforms, people don't depend on critics' ratings."

Hitlist gives you a lowdown on few recent films which rode high on word-of-mouth publicity...


With a low budget and rather obscure cast, 'Filmistaan' received overwhelming praise from critics and also won the audience's heart. This Nitin Kakkar film opened to dull houses at the box office and did a business of around Rs 2 crore in its opening weekend, but with positive buzz around it, this film ended up with Rs 6 crore in its kitty.

The Lunchbox

'The Lunchbox'
Ritesh Batra's slice of life drama was loved by the audience. Before releasing in India, the film made several rounds of prestigious international film festivals where it garnered awards as well as acclaim. Despite being an unusual love story, the film received overwhelming response from the audience. Made on a small budget, the film collected around Rs 20 crore at the box office.


Despite being an A-rated film that released right before the cricket World Cup, it has managed to sustain for three weeks. Featuring Varun Dhawan in the lead, the Shriram Raghavan thriller collected approximately Rs 23 crore in its first weekend, which has gone up to almost Rs 50 crore now.


Appreciated by the niche audience, the modest budgeted crime-drama did exceedingly well. The star cast included Shahid Kapoor, Shraddha Kapoor, Tabu and Kay Kay Menon. The Vishal Bhardwaj-directed film had the Hrithik Roshan and Katrina Kaif-starrer Bang Bang as competition — the film collected about R92 crore within the first four days. In the same time frame, 'Haider' collected Rs 23 crore, which was termed 'extraordinary' by trade analysts. Overall, it made somewhere close to Rs 50 crore.


The Neeraj Pandey film starring Akshay Kumar got a decent opening on day of release, but over the weekend, it jumped tremendously, collecting around Rs 60-65 crore. The business did drop in between, but positive word-of-mouth helped the film round off its earnings a tad short of the Rs 100-crore mark.


Vikas Bahl's directorial film about a simple girl in search of herself after being dumped by her fiance just a day before their wedding was arguably the film of 2014. With low to moderate publicity, it failed to get a royal or dramatic opening, but its box office collection spiked in the second week. Starring Kangna Ranaut, 'Queen' reigned supreme at the box office, giving 'Bewakoofiyaan' (Sonam Kapoor and Ayushmann Khurrana) a run for its money. Overall, it finished with a domestic total of Rs 61 crore.

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