The year 2017 so far has not seen any major hit apart from Rajamouli’s Baahubali: The Conclusion and after people got their answer for 'why 'Katappa killed Baahubali' only few films could bring audiences to the big screen. But, what sets these few films apart is that they are rich in content. A trend that is very prominently seen in films like Akshay Kumar-starrer Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, Ayushmann Khurrana and Bhumi Pednekar-starrer Shubh Mangal Savdhan and few others.
Directors are exploring new story lines and shifting focus from just song and dance routine and it looks like the cine goers are taking this in the positive stride. Mediocre performing films of Salman Khan and Shah Rukh Khan is a proof of this. Even their star power did not come to their rescue.
But, there is another Khan that seems unaffected by the slump in the industry and this star’s success validates that content matters. It was in 2001 that this actor’s film found mention in front-line newspapers like the influential Los Angeles Times and a host of trade journals because of its nomination in Oscars. It was Aamir Khan’s Lagaan that pointed out Hollywood’s acknowledgement that quality films are being made in India.
Aamir Khan’s success at the box office indicates that strong content reigns and what testifies this is Dangal’s hit run not just at the Indian box office, but also overseas. Hong Kong film industry is seeing the Dangal wave now that was previously seen in China. It took the film only three days to take top spot at the Hong Kong box office. As far as collections are concerned, Dangal has raked in Rs 13 crore in Hong Kong while in China it touched Rs 2,000 crore mark taking the film to new heights.
If we look at all time box office revenue of the highest grossing Bollywood films in India as of April 2017, then it is Aamir Khan that rules the chart. Four out of ten movies stars Aamir with PK taking the lead, collecting Rs 792 crore. Dangal comes in second with Rs 721.14 crore.
The biopic on wrestler Phogat sisters that inspired Nitesh Tiwari to bring their story on the big screen received a warmer welcome in China than India. Dangal clicked with the Chinese audience because of strong content as the film industry there is seeing a downward trend for in-house productions due to the lack of good content. Along with this, theme of women empowerment struck the right chord with cinema lovers there. Good content reigned the Chinese mainland and Dangal also received a rare extension from China to run beyond the 30-day window.
After Dangal’s successful run in China, in one of his interviews Aamir Khan had said: “With any audience, you have to make a good film to connect. Ultimately that is what matters.” Film trade analyst Taran Adarsh had also tweeted, “the resounding success of Baahubali 2 and Dangal globally reiterates the fact that language is no deterrent if content is strong enough.”
A look at Aamir’s other films also indicate the value of quality content and that the audience is not shy of experimenting. Rajkumar Hirani-directed PK earned Rs 448 crore in India while the worldwide collections went up to Rs 616 crore. The film in India was released in 3,600 screens, but in China the screen count went up to 4,500 and the film also broke Rs 100 crore mark in the country.
Another Aamir film that did wonders both in India and China was 3 Idiots, which also scaled his popularity to new levels. Released in 2009 in India, the film earned Rs 273 crore and USD 16,190,000 in the overseas market.
A FICCI-KPMG report also reiterates the same. At a time when movies were feeling the demonetisation impact, the report suggests that the note ban had a negative impact to a greater extent on movies with weak story lines as compared to strong content driven films. Movies such as Rock On 2 and Force 2 released in the early weeks of demonetisation in November took a strong hit on their box office collections due to lacking content.
On the other hand, Dangal that released in December last year, more than a month after the note ban, had little or no impact on its collections proving that good content is the ultimate king.