Media & Entertainment

Small-budget films proving safer for producers


Small-budget movies are bringing in profits and keeping the Hindi film industry running at a time when some big-budget films have incurred big losses for the producers.

Recent releases of Akshay Kumar, ‘Bachchhan Paandey’ and ‘Samrat Prithviraj’ – both with budget of over Rs 200 crore – bombed at the box office with mere Rs 50 crore and Rs 60 crore in net collections, respectively. At the same time, ‘The Kashmir Files’, made at a budget of less than Rs 20 crore, went on to net Rs 250 crore from box office collections alone.

The second biggest Bollywood success of this year so far, ‘Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2’ was made for less than Rs 50 crore and has collected Rs 185 crore till date.

Experts said even if a small-budget film doesn’t earn much at the box office, chances of it recovering costs is higher than big-budget films, backed by sale of television and OTT (over-the-top) rights.

“The success of a movie is not just derived from the box-office. If a big-budget movie does extremely well, it can barely break even, while it is the mid- and small-budget films that give major returns on investments,” Shariq Patel, chief business officer of Zee Studios, had told ET in a recent interaction. “That’s why we have a portfolio strategy. We will continue to invest in small Rs 10-crore films as well as mid-size films of Rs 30-40 crore and a few big ones.”

Take for example, ‘Janhit Mein Jaari’, a small-budget film from Vinod Bhanushali’s recently launched Bhanushali Studios. It didn’t exactly set the box office on fire and ended up collecting less than Rs 5 crore in two weeks. But the film has already recovered the cost and has made a small profit for the producers, even before the release.

The film’s cost of production, including prints and advertising, was at Rs 20 crore, while its digital, satellite, and music rights were sold for Rs 23 crore. Also, the Madhya Pradesh government gave a Rs 2-crore subsidy.

As per insiders, the film made a profit of Rs 5 crore even before it was released in the theatres.

“Small films may not do good business at the box office always, but they can be a good watch on TV or OTT,” trade analyst Shaaminder Malik said. “And if word of mouth is good it can prove to be a sleeper hit and earn for theatres. These are much better than some recent movies of big stars, which bombed at box office. What’s the point of making Rs 200+ crore movie and not recovering even Rs 50 crore at the box-office?”

Bhanushali said he is planning a sequel of ‘Janhit Mein Jaari’ with an A-lister and regional language versions of the film. “We are getting a lot of offers for remake rights in various languages,” he said. “We have decided to tie up with leading local production houses and jointly produce the film in Tamil, Telugu and Punjabi with leading A lister cast in each language.”

Vishal Gurnani, one of the co-producers of the film, said, “The film has delivered a return on investment of 54% in its first cycle of monetisation and is projected to deliver 600% across its life span and income from future sequels and remakes.”

Apart from Bhanushali and Gurnani, other co-producers of the film are Raj Shandilyaa, Vimal Lahoti, Kamlesh Bhanushali and Juhi Parekh Mehta.

The IP rights are with Bhanushali Studios.

The streaming and telecast rights of the film were picked up by ZEE5 and Zee Cinema.

Released on June 10, ‘Janhit Mein Jaari’ encompasses the journey of a young girl who takes up a challenging job of selling condoms in a small town in Madhya Pradesh, despite societal resistance, and decides to teach her family, in-laws and society at large an important lesson. A light hearted comedy-drama that addresses the social stigma around condoms, ‘Janhit Mein Jaari’ stars Nushrratt Bharuccha, Vijay Raaz, Tinnu Anand and others.

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