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Monday, July 15, 2024

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Bollywood’s 2024 report card

Image Source: Indian Express

In 2023, Bollywood seemed to have regained its vigor with films like “Pathaan”, “Jawan”, “Animal”, and “Gadar 2” generating significant buzz. However, as 2024 reached its midpoint, the industry found itself in a slump. High-profile releases such as “Fighter”, “Maidaan”, “Bade Miyan Chote Miyan”, and “Chandu Champion” failed to live up to expectations at the box office, signaling a troubling trend for Bollywood’s big-budget ventures.

The disappointment extends beyond mere financial losses. These films, anchored by male A-list stars like Hrithik Roshan, Ajay Devgn, Akshay Kumar, Tiger Shroff, and Kartik Aryan, were expected to draw massive crowds based on star power alone. Yet, each one struggled to recover its production costs, let alone turn a profit—a stark contrast to the optimism at the start of the year.

Amidst this bleak landscape, smaller, less star-dependent films unexpectedly emerged as beacons of success. Films like “Teri Baaton Mein Aisa Uljha Jiya”, “Shaitaan”, “Article 370”, “Madgaon Express”, and “Crew” demonstrated resilience without relying on big names. These movies showcased diverse narratives and often featured ensemble casts where the story took precedence over individual star power. For instance, “Teri Baaton Mein Aisa Uljha Jiya”, despite Shahid Kapoor’s presence, highlighted Kriti Sanon in a significant role and garnered attention for its unique storytelling.

“Shaitaan” saw R. Madhavan stealing the show despite Ajay Devgn’s top billing, emphasizing substance over star stature. Similarly, “Article 370” tackled sensitive themes with Yami Gautam and Priyamani leading the narrative, breaking away from conventional male-centric storytelling.

“Madgaon Express”, a comedy featuring Avinash Tiwary, Divyenndu, and Pratik Gandhi, celebrated the latter’s versatility and comedic timing, proving that fresh narratives and performances can resonate with audiences.

Despite the challenges in Bollywood, films like “Crew”, which starred Tabu, Kareena Kapoor Khan, and Kriti Sanon in a lighthearted plot, showcased the potential for success outside the conventional star-driven formulas. These successes hint at a potential shift in audience preferences towards more narrative-driven cinema that values storytelling and ensemble casts over individual star power.

As Bollywood navigates through its current slump, comparisons are inevitably drawn with the thriving Malayalam film industry, which continues to produce critically acclaimed films like “Manjummel Boys”, “Aavesham”, “Aadujeevitham”, and “Ullozhukku”. These films not only garner praise for their storytelling but also showcase a willingness to embrace new talent and narratives.

In contrast, Bollywood’s reliance on star-driven formulas and blockbuster expectations may need reassessment. The industry’s future success could hinge on its ability to innovate, embrace diversity, and prioritize storytelling over star billing—a pivot that could redefine its fortunes in the competitive global market.

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