Our movie industry is the largest in the world. Not only in the number of movies produced, but also content wise. Bollywood churns out a massive number of films every year and while the focus has been on making content driven cinema, over the last few years box office numbers have replaced content and become the front seat driver for a film. We are also living in a time where everyone claims to be an industry expert, there are anonymous social media personalities who claim to have access to the 'real' box-office numbers. Production houses and independent producers share box office figures with media houses (including BollywoodLife) on a regular basis.
The recent Kaabil and Raees clash witnessed a competition of a different sort. Both the studios and producers were in a rush to ensure their figures and numbers reach media houses and are put out with a sense of urgency. While the attempt of sharing these figures might be to inform the media, is there really an audience wanting to follow how many crores a film has raked in? Does the common man on the street understand the difference from 'gross' to a 'nett' collection, does he need to know which was the fastest film between Shah Rukh Khan's Raees and Hrithik Roshan's Kaabil to cross the coveted yet outdated Rs 100 crore mark? Are we a nation obsessed with box office figures?
BollywoodLife spoke EXCLUSIVELY to Akshaye Rathi, an industry expert who is also an exhibitor and a distributor, but above these labels is an avid cinema goer and a movie buff. We wanted to understand from the industry perspective will this obsession with box-office numbers fade or will it grow and become a monster in our backyard? Read excerpts from our three part series titled 'Bollywood Exposed'
Akshaye, how authentic and accurate are these box-office figures given out to the media by the studios and producers?
The only place where producers, I am not saying all producers but many producers probably give the actual figures is in their Income Tax returns. Having said that, unfortunately we live in a world where perception is reality or at least some producers like to believe so. But very honestly, the only one who gets fooled by these kinds of gimmicks of giving out inflated figures, is the producer himself. Because trust me when I say this, the entire trade knows what the reality of a film is and the audience also knows the reality of the film. So by trying to create a perception , the producer is only fooling himself and nobody else. It is unfortunate but I think that more important than creating a false perception, it is better to accept the reality and work towards bettering yourself. ALSO READ - Rajinikanth's Kabali box office collections a LIE?
So the producer is to be blamed for setting this trend of giving out incorrect figures?
Absolutely. In fact, the reason why multiple figures come out every single day for every single film is because the producer gives out one figure, the trade and trade analysts give out another figure and the stars and fans of the star give out a whole new figure. But nobody from the audience will ever know which is the actual, authentic figure.
So who has the real and authentic figures? The ones that never see the daylight...
The authentic figure is the one that the producer gets, but doesn't give out! But having said that, there are a few companies like a Yash Raj Films, which is a principled organisation and would not inflate or deflate figures for the heck of it. They are the kind of company which will accept a flop when a film flops and celebrate a hit when a film becomes a hit. And you need those people to lead by example. So there is a ray of hope with Yash Raj Films, which is leading the way and showing that if it is bad film, then you need to learn to accept it.By trying to fool the people, you are actually fooling yourself. One, people don't believe your lies. Second, if they do believe it, ultimately when you sleep and you are by yourself, then your conscience will tell you that you are lying. ALSO READ - Aamir Khan: You can't fool the market by giving out inflated figures!
If you were stunned by these revelations, stay tuned for part 2 of this series....
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