Small is big in Bollywood. In the first five months, small-budget non-commercial films have kept the cash registers ringing and kept filmmakers happy, trade experts say, adding that the icing on the cake has been three biggies that crossed the Rs.100 crore ($22 million) mark. In the second half, all eyes will be on the Khans.
A bouquet of non-commercial offerings - "Kahaani", "Vicky Donor" and "Ishaqzaade" - turned into big successes at the ticket window, which also saw biggies "Agneepath", "Housefull 2" and "Rowdy Rathore" doing roaring business.
Rajesh Thadani of Multimedia Combines told IANS: "I would say small-budget films have done exceptionally well at the box office. 'Ishaqzaade' has collected around Rs.40 crore, 'Kahaani' Rs.75 crore, 'Vicky Donor' Rs.45 crore and 'Paan Singh Tomar' Rs.20 crore."
Except "Ishaqzaade", which was made at a budget of Rs.25 crore, the other three were made within Rs.10 crore. The total cost of "Kahaani" was Rs.8 crore, "Vicky Donor" Rs.5 crore, and "Paan Singh Tomar" Rs.4.5 crore.
Thadani added that the "satellite rights of these small-budget films have also been sold on high rate. The films have garnered profit from the satellite rights as well".
Both filmmakers and the audiences have evolved and, thanks to that, non-mainstream cinemas' box-office returns have been overwhelming.
Pramod Arora, CEO of PVR Cinemas, explained the phenomenon, told IANS: "This is the process of evolution. A lot of non-mainstream cinema happened to be mainstream, including 'Vicky Donor', 'Kahaani', 'Paan Singh...' among others. Had 'Vicky Donor' released two years back, it may not have worked. Two years ago 'Vicky Donor' would have been taken as a taboo."
Sanjay Ghai of Mukta Arts said that "as far as small-budget films are concerned, films like 'Kahaani', 'Vicky Donor', 'Paan Singh Tomar' and 'Isahqzaade' have not just recovered the money but have also earned decent profits at various circuits."
The year 2011 helped Hindi cinema break the gloom of 2009 and 2010, with several films crossing the Rs.100 crore mark.
This year, about 45 films have come out so far and some big-budget films among them crossed the net Rs.100 crore mark. Trade analysts call it a very positive sign.
"Three big films including 'Agneepath', 'Housefull 2' and 'Rowdy Rathore' have crossed the net Rs.100 crore mark," said Sanjay Ghai.
Giving the box office figures, Thadani said: "These big-budget films have marked a record this year. 'Agneepath' has collected around Rs.120 crore, 'Rowdy Rathore' Rs.105 crore so far, and 'Housefull 2' Rs.110 crore."
Most importantly, filmmakers didn't hesitate in releasing movies during Indian Premier League matches and enjoyed good business.
"Films have done very well at the box office; in fact it has been better than last year. This year's collection was superior to last year's. There was not a single fall during the IPL. The fear factor of releasing your film during IPL was not there," Arora said.
Trade Analyst Amod Mehra summed it up, saying: "This year, some films have done exceptionally well and some have not, but so far the collections at the box office have been satisfactory."
But trade analyst Vinod Mirani feels filmmakers should focus on content and not on the Khans.
"We don't need Khans to run a film...we didn't have any Khan in 'Kahaani' and 'Vicky Donor'; still they did well. It all depends on the content. You might get initial opening, but the script should be strong enough to survive," he said.