Thankfully, Gauri Shinde’s Dear Zindagi is doing well at the box-office. As per media reports, the film has fought the aftermath of demonetisation and is expected to do a decent business. As of now, according to The Indian Express, its business back home will surpass the Rs 30-crore mark by weekend.
The success of the film reinstates our faith in content even if it’s a medium-budget venture. The film industry needs blockbusters with big stars, but at the same time, the presence of these smaller-budget movies with subjects of substance provides the perfect balance.
Yes, Dear Zindagi has Shah Rukh Khan. Yes, the film has Alia Bhatt, both stars in their own right, but in Gauri’s film, it’s not their star value, but the script that won them the game, set and match. Budgeted around Rs 30 crore, this is an exceptionally low-budget SRK starrer, yet, King Khan has taken the risk of banking on subject and not his stardom.
If we look back, alongside blockbusters like Sultan, Bajrangi Bhaijaan, Chennai Express, Happy New Year, PK, 3 Idiots and others, we have had smaller films raking in the moolah at the box-office. Kahaani, Vicky Donor, The Dirty Picture, Tanu Weds Manu series, Pink, Jolly LLB, Paan Singh Tomaar, No One Killed Jessica, Neerja, Queen, The Lunchbox, Pyaar Ka Punchnama (Parts 1 and 2) and others, are films which not only earned accolades from critics, but also set the cash registers ringing.
For example, Kahaani with a budget of Rs 8 crore went on to do a business of almost Rs 60 crore at the domestic box-office. Similarly Oh! My God with Akshay Kumar made on a shoestring budget did a business of over Rs 81 crore.
There are plenty of examples. Tanu Weds Manu Returns which had a budget of Rs 30 crore did a whooping business of Rs 152 crore. If we look at the margin of profit these mid-sized films have made, it’s better than that of some of the bigger movies. There was a time in the industry, when even big- budget films were biting the dust because of lack of innovative subjects. Their younger brothers though did well because the producers didn’t take a fancy on star value, but content and performance and hence we had the likes of Irrfan, Manoj Bajpayee, Kangana Ranaut and Nawazuddin Siddiqui not just excelling as performers, but also making a mark on their own as saleable faces.
Today, a Sanjay Gupta casts Irrfan for the comeback vehicle of Aishwarya Rai Bachchan (Jazbaa). Yash Raj Films, ropes in the actor for Gundaay alongside Ranveer Singh, Priyanka Chopra and Arjun Kapoor. Nawazuddin rubs shoulders with Salman Khan in Kick and Bajrangi Bhaijaan. And Kangana is in a league of her own.
In one sense, these versatile actors are actually carrying forward the legacy of their seniors like Naseeruddin Shah, Om Puri, Anupam Kher, Smita Patil and Shabana Azmi, all of whom were products of a revolution called Art House cinema in the mid-seventies. However, the concept of substance-driven films has changed now. These small and medium-budget ventures are not just satisfied wining applause and awards at various film festivals, a profitable show at the ticket-counters matters too.
And these films are drawing big stars too! Amitabh Bachchan, SRK, Akshay, Vidya Balan, Priyanka Chopra, Kareena Kapoor Khan and others have experimented with films of this genre. Even producers like Karan Johar (The Lunchbox) and Sanjay Leela Bhansali (Mary Kom) are investing in these categories of films. These movies devoid of the glitz give one a scope to harness his acumen as an actor, which the films made with a lot of fanfare don’t.
Dear Zindagi, hope you continue with your successful run at the box-office, because the industry needs your kind of films to give the audiences a myriad of options.