Rangoon was a big budget film and had some of the talented actors of Bollywood playing the lead. Directed by Vishal Bhardwaj, it was supposed to be an immortal romance set against the backdrop of India's freedom struggle. But despite all that, the film sank at the box office and Bollywood seems to be heartbroken. Yes, in terms of numbers, expectations were high from this movie given the fact that it had Shahid Kapoor, Saif Ali Khan and Kangana Ranaut in it. However, while trade is still reeling under its effect, we don't think it should shock anyone because a Vishal Bhardwaj movie always gets more critical acclaim than monetary gains. Don't get us wrong, we love Bharadwaj's masterpieces but, let's face it, they hardly make money for the people involved and this can be worrisome.
Bhardwaj debuted as a director with Makdee, which wasn't a blockbuster even though it is one of the best children films ever made in Bollywood. He followed it up with Maqbool, which got much critical acclaim but not the riches. Although Omkara did bring in good money, it cannot be called a blockbuster. When we spoke to trade expert, Amul Vikas Mohan, the editor of trade weekly, Super Cinema, to understand why Vishal's films don't earn Rs. 100 crore, he said, "See if you see filmmakers like Sanjay Leela Bhansali, they have a great understanding of commercial aspects and aesthetics and at the same time they can tell a story which can be darker in nature. Black is a dark film in terms of its story. There is a deaf, blind and mute girl and the story shows us how she manages to come across the situation in her life. Guzaarish is a darker film on the table. So he makes those films but he balances it out with a Ram-Leela, which is colourful, which is young, has love and at the same time, it has undertones of sex and all that works. That balance is not there with Vishal and his cinematic aesthetic is very different from what the commercial aspects of a film are and maybe that’s the reason (for the failure of his films to make huge amounts of money at the box office)."
Mohan had further explained, "You look at a Kaminey, you look at a Haider, Rangoon, Maqbool, Omkara and 7 Khoon Maaf, so barring Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola, which did not look so dark on paper, the others are very dark. For the commercial sensibilities that is an off-putting scenario. That’s the reason why most of films don’t go out and make money. But he is still a very respected film-maker. And it is not one or two films, it is over a span of his whole career. He has made some great films like Omkara and Maqbool, which are films that I like personally, but that doesn’t mean that it has catapulted them into becoming hits. Even those films weren’t big money spinners at the box office."
So what does Rangoon's failure mean for Vishal? Should he be worried about his future directorials? What do you think?
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