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Controversy isn#39;t always good for films and it doesn#39;t bode well for Padmavati

November 17
23:22 2017

The popular belief about controversies surrounding a film is that the issues are raised for publicity and to create hype around the movie for better box office collections.

However, the flip side to this assumption is that when political parties, cultural groups or religious outfits go strongly against a film, the situation gets grim and may even result in a delay in release or or even cancellation in some states. And that amounts to crores in lost revenue.

The team of Padmavati is dealing with a similar situation because it is quite likely that the film may not see the light of day in some states. Made with a budget of around Rs 180 crore, which for a Bollywood movie is massive, the stakes are high for director Sanjay Leela Bhansali.

The director has been struggling to get acceptance from the public for his film, which allegedly depicts a dream sequence in which legendary Rajput queen Rani Padmavati is seen romancing Alauddin Khilji, the ruler of the Delhi Sultanate at the time.

The matter is escalating by the hour and according to a recently reported development, shots were fired at a protest rally in Chittorgarh. In these events result in a stay on the release of the film, it would be a big blow to Viacom18 Motion Pictures and Bhansali, who needs collections worth Rs 500 crore to recover the investment.

Bhansali’s last venture Bajirao Mastani made him a good bet for Viacom18 as the film raked in Rs 255 crore after having been made with a budget of Rs 145 crore. But there is no saying how things will transpire over the next few days for the director and there is very little time left before Padmavati is scheduled to hit movie screens.

Padmavati is slated to play on around 8,000 screens on December 1. The Uttar Pradesh government has said that release of the movie should be deferred in the state, saying public anger over the film could lead to a deterioration of the law and order situation.

All in all, it would be safe to assume that this is one controversy Bhansali could have done without.

Talking to Moneycontrol, Gautam Jain, Partner, Ormax Media, said that while controversies could lead to larger talk around the film, they could just as easily derail a movie if audiences choose to stay away because of them during the crucial opening weekend.

To what extent can such protests affect a film’s collections?

“In case the film doesn’t get a smooth and deserving release in a couple of territories, it could lead to a revenue loss of 15-20 percent on the first day itself,” Jain said.

Padmavati is certainly not a one-off case. Other films like Mersal, Indu Sarkar, Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, My Name is Khan and Taare Zameen Par went through similar struggles. And this is despite getting a thumbs up from the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC).

In the case of Padmavati, even the Supreme Court has deferred pleas to put a stay on the film. Yet, the future of the film is left hanging in the hands of people who do not agree with the director’s imagination.

“It is high time the authorities take a tough stance against elements who are disrupting shoots and release of films. I firmly believe that once a film is certified by the board, it should not be pressurised to go through certification from any other outfit,” Jain said.

Tamil film Mersal got caught in the controversy net when few scenes from the film didn’t go down well with BJP leaders. The makers of the movie were asked to cut chunks where actor Vijay is seen mocking the new tax system.

In 2006, after Aamir Khan expressed his support for those displaced by the Sardar Sarovar Dam project, posters of his film Fanaa were burnt and the Multiplex Association and the Cinematography Association of Gujarat refused to screen the film.

At a time when the industry is dealing with a slowdown in terms of revenue, Padmavati’s is crucial for the film industry. “This year has not been that great for the industry and we need as many films to perform well as possible, including Padmavati, where the hopes are sky high,” Jain said.

Even big stars like Salman Khan and Shah Rukh Khan couldn’t hold strong at the box office with their films Tubelight and Jab Harry Met Sejal.

The business assessment of 2016 doesn’t paint a pretty picture either. The industry’s size grew by a mere 3 percent over the previous year to reach Rs 14,230 crore, according to a FICCI-KPMG report.

Box office collection of Bollywood movies declined in 2016 over the previous year and the total gross box office collection was around Rs 3,700 crore.

A recovery was expected this year and the report estimated the industry will bring home around Rs 15,500 crore by the end of it. But with such disruption in ease of doing business, it is doubtful whether the industry will be able to meet its target.

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