Komal Nahta, one of the leading trade analysts in the country, exposes Bollywood’s tendency to brag about box-office numbers
Would your neighbour tell you how much he earns?
Would you want to share the details of your father/son/daughter/sister/brother’s emoluments with your acquaintances? Obviously not, right?
But the film industry people are a different species! They take great pride in revealing figures — no, not just the 36-24-36 type but also the box-office collections of their films. No other industry is so blatant about making its earnings public, but film producers dole out the box-office collections of their films unabashedly. Why, hoardings go up soon after every big release, announcing that the film has netted so many crores of rupees in so many days. The aim is to boast about the box-office performance of the film, to create an impression that the film is the best thing to have happened to mankind since the advent of talkies.
Why, you would ask, are film people not hesitant in letting you in on what should actually be information which nobody except themselves and the income-tax department should be privy to? Because it is believed that in the case of films, the more you yell, the more you sell. After promoting their films, producers start publicising the stars given by reviewers, critics and trade analysts to their films, in advertisements carried in leading newspapers. Once that medium of promotion is also exhausted, the next is to shout from the rooftops about the box-office performance of their films. There is no conclusive evidence to prove whether knowledge of box-office revenues affects viewers’ choice of films and if it does, how much it impacts audience attendance.
It is this belief that has driven producers to even lie about box-office collections. Since the actual box-office revenues are available to only the producers concerned and to the distributors who release their film, they resort to unfair practices like fudging figures with a view to misguiding the trade and the paying public alike. Of course, no producer can hope to change the public perception of their flop film by inflating the box-office collections but strangely, some do even that. It is not rare to come across producers increasing their box-office revenues by many crores, just so that the trade and public believes that the film in question has hit bull’s eye when actually, it has bombed at the turnstiles. But while