As we reach the midway point of 2023, a somber cloud hangs over Indian cinema. From Bollywood to regional cinema, film industries across the country have encountered numerous challenges and setbacks, with Pan India films being particularly hard-hit. The curtain is rising on the scene of a disaster, and the reasons are clear as day.
Things are not good for Bollywood
Traditionally, Indian cinema has been an explosion of color, vibrancy, and raw emotion. A thriving industry, it has boasted record-breaking box-office hits, earning national and international acclaim. However, this year, the Indian film industry is far from its triumphant past. The cinematic landscape has been as lackluster as a dark room, and the reel of losses keeps spinning.
The lack of profitability in the industry, especially Bollywood is strikingly evident, even after the much-anticipated release of “Pathaan.” Barring exceptions like “Tu Jhoothi Main Makkar” and “The Kerala Story,” the industry has largely cut a sorry figure this year, struggling to attract audiences and turning in dismal box-office figures.
Even the Pan India sector, which focuses on films dubbed in multiple languages to reach a wider audience, has not been spared. Approximately fourteen Pan India films have hit the screens so far this year, with dubbed Hindi releases. Alarmingly, almost none of them have managed to cross a modest mark of 10 crores at the box office in Hindi alone.
Several factors are contributing to this unfortunate scenario, with the absence of novelty and spark being one of the most critical. A few years ago, films like “KGF” and “Pushpa” managed to invigorate the Southern sector with their fresh take on masala entertainment, reminiscent of the unforgettable Mithun Chakraborty movies of the 90s.
However, recent films seem to have stumbled over the same formula that once spelled success. The overuse of these templates has proven costly, with films like “Dasara,” “Michael,” and “Kabzaa” making little to no impact at the box office. “Kabzaa,” despite its ambitious plot that dared to tread where even “KGF” hadn’t, ended up being a box-office disaster.
“Old wine in a new bottle” won’t always work
It’s clear that filmmakers cannot merely imitate the grandeur and storyline of epic hits like “Bahubali” and “RRR.” Not everyone possesses the maverick spirit of directors like Hanu Raghavapudi and Sashi Kiran Tikka, who gave audiences memorable films such as “Major” and “Sita Ramam.”
This, however, does not excuse the subpar quality of recent Pan India films. One can’t just bedeck a shoddy plot with glitzy visuals and expect it to be devoured by audiences like a finely baked lasagna. The less said about films like “Shaakuntalam,” the better. Moreover, the notion that nuanced films are synonymous with convoluted narratives is another stumbling block. Films like “Ponniyin Selvan” have left audiences puzzled and exasperated, scratching their heads over the cinematic enigma they just witnessed.
The next half of 2023 is set to be a crucial litmus test for both Bollywood and the Pan India segment of the film industry. The recent successes in the Pan India segment need to prove they aren’t mere flashes in the pan, but indicators of a sustainable upward trend. Bollywood, too, must pack a solid punch to regain its lost glory.
Otherwise, the outlook for both industries seems bleak, casting a long shadow over the run-up to 2024. The current state of Indian cinema serves as a stark reminder that film industries must constantly innovate and strive for quality, rather than merely banking on proven formulas or star power.
The Indian film industry must rekindle the magic of storytelling and cinematic brilliance that it was once synonymous with. There’s an urgent need to reevaluate and reinvent current strategies, thus ensuring that Indian cinema doesn’t lose its cherished place in the hearts of audiences, both domestically and globally. As we brace ourselves for the rest of 2023, one can only hope that the Indian film industry will rise like a phoenix, reclaiming its lustre and vibrancy.
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