We are already halfway into 2016 and have seen a mix of actioners, romantic dramas, biopics, thrillers and comedies keeping their date with cinebuffs. But if an assessment of the box office has to be made, Bollywood seems to have encountered more speed bumps than smooth roads in the first six months.
A stills from 'Airlift'
Four and a half dozen films released within this time period, but only two — 'Airlift' and 'Housefull 3' — managed to break into the Rs 100-crore league. Both films starred Akshay Kumar, but they belonged to diverse genres — the first one was a drama-thriller while the other a leave-your-brains-at-home comedy.
A stills from 'The Jungle Book'
Trade analyst Amod Mehra says, "It wasn’t a very exciting first half. There were some hits, and many average grossers and flops. The only silver lining was that every month had at least one film of which people took notice — Airlift in January, Neerja in February, Kapoor & Sons in March, Ki And Ka in April, Baaghi in May and Housefull 3 in June."
A stills from 'Fan'
Trade folk suggest the first half of most years is more or less lacklustre, but what took them by surprise was the steady dominance of Hollywood at the Indian box office. "No Hindi release could match up to the might of The Jungle Book, which did a solid business of Rs 175 crore here. Then came Marathi film Sairat, collecting Rs 90 crore and giving many Bollywood films a run for its money. It was undoubtedly, the surprise package of the year," adds Mehra.
A still from 'Neerja'
If sources are to be believed, Hollywood films made over $61 million at the Indian box office in 2016’s first half in comparison to the $62 million they made in all of 2014 whatwith several of them overshadowing Bollywood releases. "The 'Conjuring 2' released alongside Amitabh Bachchan and Nawazuddin Siddiqui-starrer 'TE3N' and collected Rs 3 crore more on its opening day. Overall, it minted Rs 50 crore, which is the highest for any English language horror film in India," says exhibitor-distributor Akshaye Rathi, adding that other Hollywood releases like 'The Jungle Book', 'Captain America: Civil War', 'Deadpool' were some films that gave B’wood a tough time.
Rathi says "small is big" has clearly been the highlight of this year so far. "Small films with controlled budgets emerged victorious at the box office. Airlift and Neerja were the best examples," he adds.
As far as the biggest disappointments go, Shah Rukh Khan-starrer 'Fan' and Katrina Kaif and Aditya Roy Kapur's 'Fitoor' take the cake. Made on a big budget, the former just about broke even while the latter incurred losses. Even 'Azhar' and 'Udta Punjab' couldn’t cash in on the controversy that they were embroiled in.
"One thing is clear," says Mehra, adding, "The audience wants entertaining films, irrespective of the genre or language."
Top 10 grossers
'Airlift' – Rs 127.80 crore
'Housefull 3' – Rs 107.70 crore
'Fan' – Rs 84 crore
'Baaghi' – Rs 76 crore
'Neerja' – Rs 75.61 crore
'Kapoor & Sons' – Rs 73.03 crore
'Udta Punjab' – Rs 56.15 crore
'Ki And Ka' – Rs 51.62 crore
'Wazir' – Rs 42 crore
'Ghayal Once Again' – Rs 40 crore