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Small is beautiful in Bollywood news
Mohini Bhatnagar
02 November 2001

Mumbai: Small is becoming more beautiful for Indian filmmakers - and less risky too. This is with the poor showing of big budget films like Yaadein, produced and directed by Subhash Ghai, and the relatively good performance of a number of small budget films like the T Series-produced Tum Bin and Chandni Bar this year and Hera Pheri last year.

As in any other industry, in films too it is the cost against overall collections that matters. Even if a big budget film collects twice the amount garnered by a small budget film, it could end up making big losses because of the cost factor. Filmmakers say that overall collections eventually what matter. Industry insiders say a number of small budget movies under big banners like Mukta Arts, Sony and Zee Telefilms are set to hit movie halls by this yearend.

With increasing polarisation of film audiences, which makes the same film a success or a failure in different parts of the country, most films have defined markets where chances of success are high. Producers say past experience has taught them as to the kind of films people of different regions enjoy and it is thus easier to target a film at a particular audience than to hope for success on an all-India basis.

Films like Taal and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai enjoyed a spectacular run in metros and overseas markets and were medium to zero successes in C class towns and rural areas. Recently Tum Bin was a success in the northern part of India, while Chandni Bar went to packed houses in Mumbai and the western region. Films like Hera Pheri, released last year, was a success in the metros also.

However, a geographically limited market also means lower collections, even if the film may be considered a reasonable hit. In recent times it is a rare film that performs equally well in all regions in India and the only recent film that can be cited in this context is Kaho Na Pyaar Hai.

Contributing to this is the mushrooming of multiplexes, which have a small seating capacity, making them more economically viable. These can show a number of films at the same time and are also flexible enough to have special weekend shows or only late-night shows of some movies.

With filmmaking now more dependent on corporate finance, companies like Zee Telefilms, Sony and Mukta Arts have started cutting their risks and turning to small films. Small-time video companies like Ultra and T-Series are planning to make more movies for this segment. Officials in these companies say more movies are being planned with budgets ranging between Rs 1 crore and Rs 1.5 crore.

A film like Chandni Bar, that had collections of upwards of Rs 1 crore, was sold for about Rs 20 lakh per territory in Mumbai and was termed a profitable venture. Media analysts say moviemakers now feel that even with smaller investments, a movie could make more money.

With the scale of investment over the years having changed, and films budgeted between Rs 2 and Rs 5 crore considered small films and big films supposed to cost Rs 15 crore to Rs 30 crore to Rs 35 crore, making big budget films has become riskier than ever.

The size of the film industry, in terms of costs, is estimated at Rs 1,250 crore. The industry is estimated to grow at 25 per cent per annum to touch Rs 6,600 crore by 2005.

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Small is beautiful in Bollywood