4 Nonsensical Ways Film Producers Try to Influence Box Office Results

There is an old Hollywood adage, “Nobody knows anything”. This profound line was said by the legendary screenwriter William Goldman. It refers not to the inefficiency of film folk (though by watching most Hindi films you may be tempted to believe so), but instead to the fact that regardless of what anyone says, no one can predict the outcome of a film once it releases.

However, saying this to a Hindi film producer would be the equivalent of telling a small child that both Santa Claus and Shaktiman don’t exist (which would be the same as telling a grown up that they do).
In their hearts, every film producer, every financier and studio head believes that they have cracked the magic formula that will result in cracking box-office numbers and infinite glory. And unfortunately, that formula definitely doesn’t include paying for a good script and hiring a competent cast.
So here are some of the weird methods that Hindi film producers swear by:

1. The Mathe-magicians.
Some studio heads rely heavily on pseudo-maths, possibly to justify their MBA salaries, to calculate the box-office recovery of a film. Here’s one secret formula a drunken producer once explained to me.
{(Average box-office collections of Hero) + (Average box office collections of Heroine) + (Average box-office collections of Director)} /3 = Potential Recovery of Film
This makes as much sense as Nirmal Baba asking his followers to keep their money in a black wallet to increase their monetary ‘kripa’.

2. The Stargazers
Some producers turn to the stars for their hits, both the ones in the sky and the ones living in Bandra. They are the ones who keep all those numerologists in business. They are responsible for movie names like Once Upon Ay Time In Mumbai Dobaara! and actor names like Viveik Oberoi and Jimmy Sheirgill. At last check, none of these three were setting the box-office on fire.
They also have their personal astrologers, who ‘calculate’ for them the exact day their films should release and even create a ‘kundali’ for the film.
Here’s a fun site visit. Open a new tab and check out the following site to see the ‘kundali’ of the movie Jai Ho and read what ‘Ganesha’ had predicted about its fate.

3. The Translators
Their logic can be neatly summarised in a few words: ‘If a movie was a hit in a certain place at a certain time in a certain language, then the same movie will be a hit in another place at another time in another language’
These producers earlier illegally ripped off countless Hollywood films. After the studios of those films officially set up shop in India and politely started sending bills for their intellectual property in the form of court orders, these producers moved to legally ripping off South Indian films.
If you enjoyed the fun site visit in the previous entry, here’s another one where Salman Khan talks about the fate of southern remakes after Jai Ho failed to live up to what its ‘kundali’ predicted.

4. The Talisman collectors
And finally, the producers who really believe in giving actresses their due. But it’s not by way of well etched characters and equal pay. Every time a film is deemed a hit, its actress gets subverted into being called a lucky charm. These producers believe that just casting these lucky charms in their films will bring them a hit too, even if it’s only for an item song.
This might be highly misogynistic but don’t forget we’re talking about an industry where in the ’80s and ’90s one rape scene per film was the sure fire mantra to assure box office success.

[The views expressed here are the author's own.]


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