Bollywood celebrates rocking year, riding high on action flicks
NEW DELHI, India (AP) — Bollywood has made a financial comeback this year worthy of one of its traditional singing-on-top-of-the-hills moments.
India’s Hindi language movie industry made an impressive recovery after a pandemic-driven slowdown, audience fatigue with big studio productions and Bollywood megastars, and streaming platforms taking away a large chunk of viewership.
According to consultancy firm Ormax Media, the cumulative box office in 2023 pulled in US$1.3 billion, making it one of the best-grossing years of all time.
Indian moviegoers — both the masses and niche film lovers — are back in cinemas and the massive commercial success of big-ticket Bollywood films has set at ease fears that Mumbai’s glitzy dream factory was losing its shine.
As one of the largest film producers in the world, India rolls out more than 1,500 movies yearly, its diverse storytelling traditions reflected in its prolific cinematic entertainers.
The films that made the cut this year were a mixed bag of visual delights. Some portrayed the classic Bollywood larger-than-life spectacles, others were action-filled spy thrillers with top-billing movie stars. Many included stylised special effects, slickly choreographed romantic songs filmed in stunning locales, and pulsating music that had fans cheering and dancing in cinema halls.
More than anything, the year belonged to India’s beloved superstar, Shah Rukh Khan, whose son was jailed amid controversy in a narcotics case in 2021 and subsequently cleared of the charges. Khan’s global fandom welcomed him back like never before, with his movies pumping the box office numbers.
The year began with his movie Pathaan, which made more than US$100 million worldwide, according to The Numbers website. Then came Jawan, which raked in nearly US$136 million worldwide. And the year is ending with yet another, titled Dunki.
“Very grateful to all the people around the world who have given me soooo much love as an entertainer,” Khan recently posted on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter.
“This year Shah Rukh Khan has almost single-handedly revived cinema, very similar to what Tom Cruise did in Hollywood with his Top Gun” last year, said Nikhil Taneja, co-founder of the youth-centred media organisation Yuvaa and host of the popular YouTube show, Be A Man, Yaar.
Other blockbusters of the year include the heavily criticised Animal featuring actor Ranbir Kapoor, Gadar 2 with actor Sunny Deol, and Salman Khan’s Tiger 3.