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Why makers of Bollywood films are in favour of shortening the length

With commercial viability being the buzzword, the running time of a film is now being kept in check 

Recent instances in the industry hint at the emergence of an unsaid rule where the duration of films is now being curtailed to around two hours and ten minutes.

Ajay Devgn on the sets of 'Action Jackson'
Ajay Devgn on the sets of 'Action Jackson'

Films are apparently being cut short in order to ensure a wider and smoother release in cinemas. For instance, HitList has learnt that producer Mukesh Bhatt has asked director Hansal Mehta to stick to a running time of not more than two hours and fifteen minutes. “The shorter the length of a film, the more shows it allows us,” says Bhatt.

A source says that producers now insist on calling the shots as far as duration and rating are concerned. “It’s a part of the contract now. If the film has a middle-order star, then the producer wants less running time so as to make the film commercially viable. Bigger stars can get away with more screen time. Duration issues have been cropping up particularly for action, erotic horror and thriller films,” adds the source.

Ramesh Taurani, producer of the Akshay Kumar starrer, It’s Entertainment, says that his film won’t exceed a running time of two hours and twenty minutes. “A film’s length is decided upon after its first cut has been seen. I want my film to hold the audience’s attention,” he says.

Ajay Devgn’s film, Action Jackson, will also have a running time of around two hours fifteen minutes. Producer Gordhan Tanwani says, “Audiences in the age group of 15 to 30 don’t want to sit through a long film.”

Vishal Anand of Fun Cinemas chimes in that shorter films are good for business. “Hasee Toh Phasee, which released on Friday, has a duration of two hours and ten minutes. Even films like Fukrey and Aashiqui 2 had the same running time,” he says.

Amrita Pandey, VP and Head of Theatrical, Television & Digital Distribution, Studios- Disney UTV, agrees. “A shorter duration does help a movie get a better release in cinemas. But it also depends on the content and storytelling; keeping audiences engaged and entertained is the main focus here,” she says. Four UTV films — The Lunchbox, Kai Po Che, Chennai Express and ABCD — have had an average running time of two hours and twenty minutes.

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