Why Raazi Making Money Is Good News

Meghna Gulzar’s spy thriller will encourage Bollywood to make more films with female actors in the lead, and make Alia Bhatt a bigger star
Why Raazi Making Money Is Good News

A spy thriller, shouldered by an actress (with the support of an excellent ensemble), about patriotism that doesn't pander, is on its way to becoming a blockbuster. Meghna Gulzar's Raazi, starring Alia Bhatt, has earned over Rs 51 crores in 6 days. Raazi's growth over the weekend has been steady and the drop from Monday (Rs 6.3 crores) onwards hasn't been much. Trade experts predict a lifetime collection of Rs 90 crores, even Rs 100 crores—which, if it happens, will make Raazi the second female-led film to join the club, after Tanu Weds Manu Returns (2015), which had the advantage of being a franchise film (Rs 149 crores).

This could change things, says trade analyst Amod Mehra. "It's a pleasant surprise. It has given a jolt to a lot of makers who still believe in old-school thoughts that heroine-oriented films don't do well, that they are not accepted by the family audience," he says. Despite an increasing number of films which have actresses in the lead role, producers want to keep their budgets low and are afraid to invest more because of the notion that even a successful female-led film can't earn more than Rs 30 crores. Raazi, reportedly made on a budget of Rs 35 crores, earned almost as much (Rs 32.75 crores) over the weekend alone.

Alia Bhatt has a wider mass appeal than Kangana Ranaut (whose last hit was in 2015), thanks to films like Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhaniya and Badrinath Ki Dulhaniya  

Shailesh Kapoor, of Ormax Media, a media consulting firm is more cautious. The success of Raazi could mean more to the career of Alia Bhatt, than the overall state of female-driven films in Bollywood. Bhatt, who is on a journey of her own, has no commercial failures except Shaandar (2015). She has a wider mass appeal than Kangana Ranaut (whose last hit was in 2015), thanks to films like Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhaniya and Badrinath Ki Dulhaniya; 20 percent of Raazi's business is from the small cities like Surat, Lucknow, Nagpur, as opposed to the other female-oriented films like Neerja whose business was restricted to the 5 big cities Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Bengaluru and Hyderabad.

Priyanka Chopra (Mary Kom had a lifetime earning of roughly Rs 70 crores), with her commitments in Hollywood, hasn't had a Bollywood film for a while, and it's going to be a while till she has one. Deepika Padukone (who is 32) remains the top actress, says Kapoor; but the 25-year-old Bhatt has age on her side, a crucial factor for actresses' careers, which will allow her to play younger characters in films targeting a young audience, which producers are more likely to put their money on.

According to Kapoor, Bollywood's litmus test of star-power is how well you open a film on a Friday, before it's left to work on its own merit. With Raazi's first day collection at 7.53 crore, Bhatt has passed that test. "Raazi has probably got her in the same league and pay bracket as Ranbir (Kapoor) and Ranveer Singh," says Kapoor.

The figures mentioned in the story are from boxofficeindia.com

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