Masala Entertainers vs Off Beat Films

Entertainment Entertainment Entertainment.. I guess these are the three things which I look for when I spend 200 bucks every Friday. Fortunately, or unfortunately, many of us have developed a narrow perception about entertainment over the course of time. There has been an everlasting debate between ardent masala movie lovers and the so called pseudo intellectuals that “Entertaining films can never give you a message and vice versa”. I contradict. I believe that entertainment, in its true sense, can never go wrong. For me, an Ek Tha Tiger and a Barfi, can co-exist since both of these films provide entertainment of their own kinds.

The path breaking “Hatke” films have always existed and have been appreciated in Bollywood, but I can’t count even 10 such films which got their due at ticket window. Quite evidently, 2012 has become an exception (rather a revolution) in this context. As many as six high concept films have struck gold at box office so far. Possible reasons for this change could be: – (i) Vigilant marketing strategy (ii) Controlled budget (iii) Apt musical score backing the screenplay (iv) Expanding multiplex culture.

No points for guessing, Word of Mouth (WOM) has played an imperative part in making these films successful. To showcase the power of WOM, we’ve compared two mass entertainers (with least positive WOM among all other 100cr club films) with two offbeat films (having highest WOM among all recent high content films). Both OMG and Kahaani made only around 22-24% of their total business in opening weekend due to slow start, but it is clear how +ve WOM did wonders for these films later on. On the contrary, big budgeted films like Bodyguard and Ra One couldn’t capitalize comprehensively on their fabulous starts due to not so +ve wom and a much larger part of their total earning came in first few days only.

Off Beat Films vs Masala Entertainers

Let us now find out more about these off-beat films that did surprisingly well at the box office this year

Paan Singh TomarPaan Singh Tomar: This real life tale of an athlete turned dacoit is one of the hardest hitting stories of recent times. With his brilliant performance, Irfan Khan doesn’t let you imagine anybody else doing a better Paan Singh even for a second. Tigmanshu Dhulia not just portrayed both the life sketches of Paan Singh very well, but he quite ably managed to develop an emotional connection between the main protagonist and his audience and that made all the difference.

Lifetime Net Box Office Collection: 15 crore | Verdict: Semi Hit


KahaaniKahaani: A thriller with no item songs, no superstar and almost no promotion. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who was sceptical about the box office results of this Sujoy Ghosh directorial venture. But, it was an all different Kahaani on the Friday it released. Vidya Bagchi (and not Balan, because she never allows you to believe that she is the same girl who played Silk) made an astonishing transition from her last Blockbuster ‘The Dirty Picture’ but the outcome was nevertheless the same and she drove Kahaani to unprecedented success on her shoulders. This film also proved that in a male dominated industry, female oriented films can also make the producers run all the way to the bank – provided they have good content. The tight screenplay also played a vital role as it managed to keep its viewers on the edge of their seats throughout the film. The pre interval and climax scenes deserve a special mention.

Lifetime Net Box Office Collection: 60 crore | Verdict: Super Hit

Vicky DonorVicky Donor: This is arguably the most experimental film of our times. I mean, can you imagine somebody making a film on Sperm Donation and expecting decent box office returns (forget about the box office, I would always be in two minds whether it will survive the Censor Scissors in the first place)? But, Vicky Donor accepted both these challenges and came out with flying colours. Director Shoojit Sircar and writer Juhi Chaturvedi really deserve a pat on their backs for exploring an issue which is still considered taboo in most of the parts of our country. One cannot forget an all round contribution of Ayushman Khurana in the department of acting, music composition and singing. Looking at his tremendous talent, we got to say that he is here to stay in the business of film making.

Lifetime Net Box Office Collection: 43 crore | Verdict: Super Hit

BarfiBarfi! : The next to make entry in our list is India’s official entry to Oscars this year. If there is any film which can be called this year’s surprise package, it’s got to be Barfi. It has become the first unconventional bollywood flick to join 100cr elite club. Everything worked in its favour from A to Z. The producers (UTV) smartly identified their target audience initially and released the film in limited screens (1700+ only). Director Anurag Basu broke all the barriers of conventional film making and it is indeed commendable on his part to engage a wider sect of audience with a script which had limited scope for dialogues. Ranbir & Priyanka gave superlative performances in Barfi and it is arguably their best work till date. I would like to give special credit to Ranbir for the courage and believe he showed in attempting such an offbeat project, which I doubt if most of other senior stars would have taken risk for. Last, but not the least, Barfi is certainly incomplete without Pritam, for it is his poignant score which forms the soul of the film.

Lifetime Net Box Office Collection: 105-110 crore (estimated) | Verdict: Super Hit

Oh My GodOMG! Oh My God: It is indeed audacious to question the very fundamental rituals and believes about temple, mosque & idol worship in a nation where Religion is considered more essential than Education. And that’s exactly what forms the theme of OMG. This thought provoking film by director Umesh Shukla quite boldly puts forth all those questions and concepts about God which most of us must have had in our hearts but could never speak out. With a few scenes as exception, Bhavesh Mandalia’s screenplay mostly takes the satirical & humorous route rather than just being preachy and that’s really worked in favour of the movie. At box office, this film has just been OMG. To be specific, it’s one of those rare films in the recent past which performed exceptionally better on weekdays than weekend. In a career spanning as long as 28 years, can anyone name a bigger box office success of Paresh Rawal as lead? Well, atleast I can’t. Mr. Rawal gets to showcase his immense talent and acting experience. Akshay Kumar redefined the reflections of God in his pleasant extended guest appearance as Mod-God. Mithun Chakraborty does impresses astoundingly in his character with grey shades.

Lifetime Net Box Office Collection: 65-70 crore (estimated) | Verdict: Super Hit

English VinglishEnglish Vinglish: Gauri Shinde’s directorial debut is the latest and last film to join our list. Sridevi made an impactful comeback with this flick which dealt with language barrier and beautifully portrays the emotions within Indian housewives. It is a story about a lady and her struggle for English language. It has collected around 20cr in its first week.

Lifetime Net Box Office Collection: 30 crore+ (estimated) | Verdict: N/A (will be updated)

Pick your favourite off beat film and do share your views on the article.

By Archit Mishra

Which is your favorite off beat film of 2012?

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  • For me…

    1) Barfi!
    2) Vicky Donor
    3) English Vinglish
    4) Kahaani
    5) OMG-Oh My God
    6) Paan Singh Tomar

    Although, I really enjoyed each and everyone of these films :)

  • @Archit.. first of all, a brilliant article. Hats off.

    It feels good to know that films with strong content are doing well at the box office.

    While naysayers have been criticising masala films like Ek Tha Tiger and Bodyguard.. what we must not forget is the fact that, these films increase the revenue of the film industry and brings audiences in hordes to theatres. Without such films, the industry won’t have enough investors. Nowadays even foreign production houses and investing in our film industry like Walt Disney and Fox…. and all credit should go to the fan following that some of our stars command.

    To compliment these big budget superstar films, we have off beat films with strong content like Kahaani, Vicky Donor, Barfi and others. Like you rightly mentioned, these films rely almost entirely on WOM. Without appreciation from friends and others on social networking sites, these films wouldn’t have managed half the collections. I strongly feel sites like Facebook, Twitter and even Indicine have contributed immensely to pushing audiences to go theatres and watch good films like Pan Singh Tomar and Kahaani.

    If it’s Mindless masala vs Good content films.. I would pick both and watch both. It’s fun sometimes to watch films like Dabangg and Rowdy Rathore. Sheer timepass entertainment.

  • As for the films that you have mentioned…. here is my list

    1) OMG
    2) Paan Singh Tomar
    3) Vicky Donor
    4) Kahaani
    5) Barfi (plagiarism, lot of scenes were shamelessly copied)
    6) English Vinglish

  • Detailed write up.. very impressive! Why do you think Paan Singh Tomar arguably the most critically acclaimed film in the list, managed just 15 crores? Was it due to lack of entertainment value?

  • All other films managed 3-4 times the business of Paan Singh Tomar. What could be the reason? Why didn’t it grow like Kahaani or Vicky Donor?

  • OMG is film about religions so it is a controversial genre thn offbeat on cricket or religion is defintrly is different frm kahani,vicky donor or pan singh

  • @AyushSRK.. People like you piss me off! Just because Salman Khan films have been termed as mindless masala entertainers, it doesn’t make SRK films cult classics. Infact almost all his last few films have lacked logic or sense.

    Don 2 – if you watch the whole sequences in the building and the SRK-Priyanka love story, has to be one of the most stupid movies in recent times.

    Ra One – what do I say about this film? It’s worse than any film Salman has done in the last 10 years.

    My Name Is Khan – this was one of the better films, but try stretched it too long and after a point it got way too boring.

    Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi – Wife not recognizing her own husband? Enough said.

    OSO – Another mindless entertainer. How is this film any better than Bodyguard or Ek tha Tiger?

    And it doesn’t stop here. SRK is working with Rohit Shetty and Farah Khan next. Both kings of stupid senseless films.

    So don’t worry. Quality wise SRK doesn’t come close to Aamir or Hrithik!

  • @Archit, why did you not take Gangs of Wasseypur 1 & Ishaqzaade into consideration? They were clear hits too.

    My picks:
    1. Kahaani
    2. Vicky Donor
    3. Barfi
    4. Paan Singh Tomar
    5. GoW 1
    6. OMG
    7. English Vinglish
    8. Ishaqzaade
    9. Shanghai

  • @Yatish – I, for one, thought MNIK was a bit overrated. SRK & Kajol were both great in it. Karan Johar messed it up. OSO was rollicking entertainment! The first half of the movie is one of the ‘fun-est’ halfs of recent times! Why did you stop at OSO? Chak De India would have tilted the scales in favour of SRK as far as quality cinema is concerned. Ghajini, Kites & Agneepath were hardly quality movies! Agneepath was still decent. But Kites & Ghajini were both regressive. Also, are you sure Ra.One was worse than any Salman movie of the last 10 years? Erm. Veer? Main aur Mrs. Khanna? God Tussi Great Ho? I found Ra.One to be a pretty entertaining movie. And, if the repeated TV telecasts are anything to go by, I am not the only one.

  • hope this trend follows, good for hindi film industry,the world will recognise bollywood which can compete with hollywood.

  • @hey, if repeated television telecasts of Ra one, make it a good entertaining movie. Then what does each Salman Khan film outgrossing his previous release suggest? That people are loving his films? Although a certain section of the audience (read SRK fans) will continue to thrash his films, his movies are making more money than you can count.

    And I didn’t find OSO one bit entertaining. One of the worst films in recent times.

    Chak De India I agree. It was one of SRK’s rare film and performance that actually deserved the accolades it got.

  • The indian box office results and the indian audiences, particularly this year, have sort of vindicated that both the masala entertainers and the so called off beat art movies can co-exist and co-survive and can still make money. The ‘indian movie audiences’ who is the ‘real king’ as far as the movies box office collections are concerned have made it clear that there is/there are an audience/audiences for almost any kind of genuine,creative,imaginative and conceptualized artfull movies as well as the ‘full time pass and paisa vasool’ type of masala entertainers. But a certain degree of balance and equilibrium needs to be maintained between these two categories, because an “OVERDOSE CAN CERTAINLY KILL” for sure. also what we have to bear in mind is that film makers cater according to the whims and fancies of its ‘targeted audience’ and these whims and fancies always keep changing from time to time. But as long as the movies continue to give the audiences what they exactly want, the box office in general and movie producers in particular will be laughing all the way to money,money and more money!!!

  • @Yatish – I am not even for a moment doubting Salman’s success. If people love him & his movies, then good for him & his fans! No point in hating somebody I don’t even know. Just because I did not like Bodyguard or Ready, does not mean I will incessantly rant against Salman for no reason or rhyme.
    Uhm, as for Ra.One, I thought it got bogged down by all the negativity around it. The concept was new for Indian audiences. Yet it managed to earn 115 Crores. That’s almost as much as Ready earned. And, mind you, Ready was a tried & tested hit in the south. Ra.One would’ve earned at least 30% more if not for the negativity & if people had given it a fair chance. Of course, this is an assumption. I think, you should watch Ra.One with an open mind. You’d surely not hate it. And, as for OSO, we will just have to agree to disagree, I guess. It was the biggest grosser at the time, & that’s all that matters really. Weirdly enough, none of Salman’s films in the last 15 years have become the highest grossing film of that time. It might just change with Dabangg 2, though.

  • @Hey, I am not a Salman fan and I didn’t like ETT, Bodyguard or Ready. Enjoyed watching Dabangg and Wanted though.

    Ra One suffered from a poor story and terrible direction. Also, SRK just couldn’t pull off the action sequences, which again were poorly choreographed. The only real saving grace was the VFX and super sexy Kareena.

    As for Highest grossing films. I would give more importance to ‘All time blockusters’ and Salman currently has the most, by far. And unless Arbaaz Khan messes it up big time, Dabangg 2 should make it to the list.

  • @Yatish – I enjoyed Dabangg & Wanted immensely. They had Salman in his element. I would have expected more of the same in the sequel, but I am not really confident about Arbaz’s direction, & also the addition of so many villains may mess it all up. These are my apprehensions, but at the end of the day, it will end up earning bucket loads of money.

    Well, I do agree that Ra.One was poorly directed. Don’t understand why SRK entrusted the reins of such a risky high budget film at the hands of someone like Anubhav Sinha. SRK did just what was required in the action scenes, though. Don’t understand how else how could they have been performed. The VFX was truly the best for an Indian film. So, yeah, it wasn’t as awful as you initially made it out to be.

    And, yes, Salman does have the highest number of ATBBs but it seems as if his successes have come in bits & spurts. He has generally been highly inconsistent (but that seems to have changed now). SRK has been a consistent performer to be honest. He hasn’t gone without a true blue hit for long. He’s always had hits. Let’s see what JTHJ & Dabangg 2 does for both of the Khans. I hope both of them will turn out to be entertaining movies which will both cross the 200 crore mark.

  • RA.ONE was not a disaster overseas… in India it suffered negativity and I am sure it would have made it to 200 crs if released in 3500 screens just like ETT. You salman fans are living in dreams. We all know in India its just a matter of highest number of screen… just imagine ETT at last year christmas with no extended holiday… and Don2 at this years 15 august. with 2 national holidays..
    rowdy rathode was better than ETT and without any big holiday it emerged as a BB. So in near future when no. of screens will increase to 5000 any records can be broken
    enough said…..

  • iamvashisht.. your comment makes absolutely no sense. Don 2 was a holiday release, and it couldn’t come close to Ready (non-festive release) and Bodyguard (which had Mere Brother Ki Dulhan as competition in Week 2).

    Come what may, JTHJ can never go past Ek Tha Tiger. I would be surprised if it manages to beat Bodyguard. But then, SRK fans will blame it on Son Of Sardar. Mark my words.

  • @SRK fans,pls never say Raone is better than ETT. Let us check Raone- first week – 89 crore, second week- 15 crore, ETT- first week-143 crore,second week- 29 crore, Don 2 – first week- 75 crore,second week- 27 crore. If ETT was as bad as Raone,then the drop at second week should be like Raone.

  • @iamvashisht ……Ra.One opened across more than 4,000 plus
    screens worldwide (3,100 plus screens in India
    and 904 prints internationally, including 3D,
    Tamil and Telugu)…..still couldn’t break Ready’s lifetime collections in India…lolz…….
    nd if Ek Tha Tiger relesed at Christmas ..jus like Don 2…no would hv got biggest opening..cos salman khan is biggest superstar till date….has loyal fan following…..dnt mess with salman khan …cos he’s always been king (he never said it)..nd will remain king for us

  • At last Iam vasisht is telling truth. First Aamir overtook SRK,then Salman,then Hrithik with Agneepath,then Akshay & at last now Ranbir with Barfi.

  • (150+ crore budget)+(promotion strts since world cup)+(most awaited movie in 2011)+(so called king srk)+(AKON…the one n only thing was good abt this movie )+(kareena)= AVERAGE

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