Last year and earlier this year, we came up with multiple articles wherein we asked trade experts how much the digital films would have earned at the box office had there been no lockdown and had these films been released in cinemas. After a tremendous response to each of our stories, we are now back with a similar exercise.
NOTE – The box office data presented is for India box office only
This time, we speak about Bhuj: The Pride Of India. Starring Ajay Devgn, Sanjay Dutt, Sonakshi Sinha, Nora Fatehi, Sharad Kelkar and Ammy Virk, it told a fascinating true incident that took place in the 1971 India-Pakistan war. It was initially scheduled to release in cinemas on August 14, 2020. Due to the lockdown, it was released a year later, on August 13, 2 days before Independence Day, but on Disney+ Hotstar.
Probable Theatrical Box Office Lifetime: Rs. 60 to 70 crores
If Bhuj: The Pride Of India had released in cinemas, it would have opened well since it was a multi-starrer and also because it looked like a grand, action film. The patriotic flavour and Nora Fatehi’s song ‘Zaalima Coca Cola’ would have contributed to the hype and also the footfalls in the weekend. But the reports were not encouraging and hence, it would have seen a fall in the weekdays.
Trade analyst Taran Adarsh said, “I think single screens would have been fantastic. But multiplexes would have not been kinder to the film. This was more of a single screen film. The star power of the film would have benefitted the multiplexes on Day 1. But this is not a multiplex kind of film. This is more of a single screen experience or rather a big screen experience. In today’s times, the single screen crowd is very different from the multiplex crowd. There are very few films that break the barrier, like Baahubali.”
He further added, “I doubt this would have been a Rs. 100 crore film as single screens don’t generate that kind of revenue. Their ticket prices are not as much as that in a multiplex. The lifetime probably would have been in the range of Rs. 70-75 crore, or maybe Rs. 60-65 crore, depending on how people reacted to the film.”
Girish Johar, producer and film business analyst, opined, “It was supposed to release on Independence Day. There’s a good traction for these films on this day. Ajay Devgn, meanwhile, is a huge star and he was backed up by Sonakshi Sinha, Nora Fatehi, Sanjay Dutt, and even Ammy Virk. Had it been released theatrically on Independence Day and seen the word of mouth it got, I think it would be safe to say that it would have done at least Rs. 60-75 crore at the box office.”
He continued, “The reviews were below the par. But these commercial films with a flavour of patriotism do enjoy a good weekend at the box office. Later, the word of mouth does come into play. But it was a well mounted film for sure. It would have found patronage in the single screens. Ajay Devgn also has a fan following in cities as well as in mass interiors.”
Trade analyst Atul Mohan meanwhile minced no words, “Under normal circumstances, if this film would have been released, it would have got rejected by the audiences. It would have been the lowest grosser of Ajay Devgn in recent times. It would have had a good opening in double digits due to the star cast, patriotic flavour and release on Independence Day. And then the collections would have nosedived.” He predicts that it would have had a lifetime of around Rs. 50 crores.
However, he also adds that since a certain portion of Bhuj: The Pride Of India was completed post lockdown, the final product would have been a bit different had it been shot and completed in pre-pandemic times. He explained, “If the situation was normal, toh picture ki shooting achche se ho jaati. Planning and execution would have been better. But due to the lockdown related problems, everyone had to compromise a bit.”