Bollywood 1998: of bade miyans, chote miyans
and major sobs
AT the end of every year, avid film buffs eagerly await for what has popularly come to be known as the “Top Ten” list from Hollywood and Bollywood. The ranking of movies could be in various categories: film critic or audience choice, trade choice. The list even extends to the best director, actor and starlet of the year.
1998 was a poor year for Bollywood. Except for a handful, most movies did not do well at the box office. There were 139 releases of which only 14.38 per cent were hits, according to Trade Guide.
In comparison, in 1997, 119 films had been released of which the success ratio was 19.33 per cent while in the year previous to that, out of the total of 123 films released, 24 were successful.
Obviously, the list of movies which did reasonably well or exceptionally at the box office last year is shorter than the films which failed. Blockbusters such as Major Saab with the Big B, Mani Ratnam’s Dil Se, Qua with Dilip Kumar, Jeans with Aishwarya Rai, Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s Kareeb and Feroz Khan’s Prem Aggan were some which failed to impress the audiences around the country.
Trade-wise, the films may have done well in some pockets but failed to generate enough business to be dubbed a hit either due to high pricing or some other trade reason.
A couple of movies, contrary to predictions, did surprisingly well Pyaar To Hona Hi Tha and Soldier. 1998 also threw up a few surprises.
Says Komal Nahta of Trade In formation, “This year, an action hero Ajay Devgan succeeded in a lover-boy role (Pyaar To Hona Hi Tha) while a chocolate hero like Amir Khan was a hit in an action role (Ghulam).”
There was also a hint of trend in the success and flops of films last year. Either very big films succeeded or very small ones. Examples of the latter were movies such as Satya, Bombay Boys and Hyderabad Blues.
Trade sources have predicted that such small budget films made with a specific audience in mind may soon become the order of the day in the years to come. Most in the film-world seem unanimous on the opinion that Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol emerged as the top actor and actress of 1998. There were a few finds in the past year— who can forget Manoj Bajpai as Bhiku Mhatre in Satya and to some extent, Kallu Mama aka Saurabh Shukia in the same film.
The sultry Rani Mukherjee was yet another pleasant find of last year and from the way things are shaping up, she may be here to stay.
Ram Gopal Verma was back in the Top Ten list with Satya's hit. Now, everybody eagerly awaits his next film, Kaun with Urmila Matondkar and Bajpai.
But the surprise of surprises was in the director’s category. Trade sources feel Karan Johar should walk away with the director of the year award for delivering, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai — that "cho sweet” love story of 1998. If 1997 had Dil To Pagal Hai, the success story of 1998 was KKHH.
If an award were given to the most-hummed song of 1998 it would go to Aati Kya Khandala from Ghulam. Amir Khan fans can now sit back after his excellent performance in the movie and cock a snook at his critics saying, “We told you so.”
1998, in a way, was lucky for the Big B. Desperate for a hit, the success of Bade Miyan Chote Miyan must have tasted especially sweeter for Bachchan after Major Saab failed to impress audiences and trade pundits.
Coming back to the present, however, Bombay Boys continues at top form. Its eighth day collections was 100 per cent in Mumbai. Incidentally. the film was released only in the metropolis.
Zakhm, on the other hand, is already showing signs of slipping. It had opened to around 95 per cent in Mumbai. Its second week collections, says Trade Guide was 74 per cent in Mumbai.
(Figures in the above column are mean averages of box office collections culled from various trade journals)