With time, the concept of a Bollywood blockbuster has witnessed a sea change. While earlier, a great story with exalting musical scores was the touchstone of Bollywood triumph, and for years, 'silver jubilee' was the measure of a stunning hit, in the present world of impatient corporate movie makers, the benchmark of Bollywood Box Office success boils down to an elite figure of Rs 100 crore.
There are multiple economic reasons for the spurt in some recent high-earning movies. With extensive use of technology and aggressive film promotion, no wonder filmmakers expect exorbitant returns. The growing numbers of multiplexes and single screen luxury cinema houses have only mobilised more producers and distributors to release their films with more prints. The business no longer spreads across weeks and has come down to weekends. No movie today gives you enough time to appreciate its nuances (if at all it has). It simply dazzles you.
However, beyond the economics of it all, these 100 crore grossers also tell us quite a bit about the evolving notions of male stardom, the ongoing strength of the <i>masala</i> genre, and the rise of the female superstar. What with Vidya Balan coming out with some extraordinary performances in ‘Kahaani’ and ‘Dirty Pictures’, she has paved way for a more balanced equation in the elite 100 crore club.
But not everyone is impressed by the 100 cr trend. Bollywood hot shot Shahid Kapoor, said at a media event, “The 100 crore club is just a fad which is in the industry for the past three years. The films which come under this category are of a certain genre and are done by those actors who have been in the industry for the last 20 years. It takes a certain amount of time to reach the heartland of our country.”
Ajay Devgn, who has to his credit a couple of 100 cr films, reinstated Shahid’s statement with a word of advice for the young turks of Bollywood. To a leading daily he said that he keeps telling the new actors that they should also attempt the kind of cinema that he and others are doing. This kind of cinema (‘Singham’, ‘Golmaal’, ‘Dabangg’, ‘Rowdy Rathore’, etc.), which comprises out-and-out entertainers, has mostly got 1 or 1.5 stars from critics. But, Ajay is confident because the audience likes these movies.
There is a reason though why Ajay Devgn has two movies in the 100 Crore Club and Shahid Kapoor has none - and it has nothing to do with their relative merit as actors or even their choice of projects.
The difference is that Ajay comes from a generation of actors who still understand how to play the quintessential Bollywood hero. The overwhelming success of Aamir Khan’s ‘Ghajini’ signalled not just a return of the <i>masala</i> filmmaking techniques, but also a return of the <i>aam aadmi’s</i> beloved ‘Hero’. Actors like Salman and Shah Rukh are the quintessential heroes for the masses and anything which is packaged around them is bound go through the roof. No doubt they are exceptional actors but they have grown beyond.
Over time they have also attained a stature wherein it’s easier for the producers and makers to use them to exploit the emotions of the masses. By just their sheer star power, they can guarantee the success of the film.
And the reason the younger set of actors haven’t cracked the 100 Crore Club is because most of them have been primarily associated with light hearted flicks. They don’t know how to pick the kind of films that will resonate with the masses and they don’t know ‘herogiri’. As of now, Shahid, Ranbir, Ranveer, etc. are fine actors but they are no ‘Heroes’. Probably after they have spent a good 20 years in B-town, they would be able to flaunt an even bigger figure than 100 crores!