Interview By: Hasti Doshi & Drishti Pandey

The first quarter of 2018 has ended on a good note. The year started off with ‘Tiger Zinda Hai’ which released on Christmas last year but still went ahead to earn 80-90 crs in this year alone. Then came Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s ‘Padmaavat’ which was a huge success at the box– office. And later films like ‘Pad Man’, ‘Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety’, ‘Raid’ also proved to be good films for the start of the year. Last year, it was purely content driven films which knocked off star driven films, and looks like this year, that trend will continue. While content is the king, it’s also the star power and entertainment which has worked. Here we take insights from industry insiders and sum up how the first quarter of 2018 was at the movies!

RAMESH TAURANI (PRODUCER)

In the first quarter, we saw films like ‘Padmaavat’, ‘Pad Man’, ‘Raid’, ‘Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety’, ‘ Aiyaary’ all with mix genres and I think overall the first quarter was good enough. There were many good films that came with good box-office success so it was really good for the industry and it was a good experience. And the other half will also go really well because we have films like ‘Race 3’ and many more. So, I feel coming quarter will be excellent.

SUNEEL DARSHAN (PRODUCER, DIRECTOR)

Firstly we have walked into the New Year with a lot of baggage of the previous year. I think we’ve had a state of very good releases which have somewhere set a lot of hope. Starting with ‘Padmaavat’, there was a lot of variety of cinema happening and each of them doing well despite having all other platforms and other content coming in. But eventually the content works if the content is right.

MANOJ DESAI (EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF GAIETY GALAXY MUTILPLEX AND MARATHA MANDIR CINEMA)

There were very few films which were above average otherwise first quarter wasn’t good and none of the movies even continued for two weeks. Even ‘Padmaavat’ gained momentum but after a lot of issues and also ‘Pad Man’ was good. Still, cinema demands content in their films and it should be taken care of. I am expecting a good quarter next and with all three Khans even Akshay Kumar doing well. The major reason for bad first quarter is less content, no hard hitting dialogues and no great music, that’s what I feel.

RAJESH THADANI (DISTRIBUTOR)

It’s been a very decent year as started with ‘Padmaavat’, ‘Pad Man’ and ‘Sonu ke Titu ki Sweety’ and they did well. I feel content driven films will always do well. And there are a couple of great films lined up for next quarter as well so it looks good.

VIVEK KRISHNANI (MD, SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT)

The first quarter of 2018, was one of the best in recent years for the industry- with ‘Padmaavat’ leading the charge combined with the success of content rich cinema like ‘PadMan’ and ‘Raid’, followed by ‘Hichki’ reinforces the fact that audiences are looking for differentiated content backed by strong and entertaining narrative. The success of ‘Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety’ and now massive expectations from ‘Baaghi 2’ bode well for us as we keep pushing the boundaries on high concept cinema on one end and pure masala entertainment on the other. At Sony we are backing content rich cinema and our next release is Umesh Shukla’s ‘102 Not Out’ with Mr. Bachchan and Mr. Kapoor. I hope 2018 is the year where we create content that brings people to theatres in large numbers which is extremely important.

VIKRAM BHATT (DIRECTOR, PRODUCER)

This quarter was much better than most years, we had some good success. Content driven films are working and that’s not going to change and I hope even for next quarter it doesn’t change.

SANJAY CHATAR (ONWER, DIRECTOR – MARUDHAR ENT.PVT.LTD)

First quarter was fairly good we have got films like ‘Padmaavat’, ‘Pad Man’ and ‘Raid’ and big surprises like ‘ Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety’ and also Hollywood there was good content like ‘Black Panther’ which has done well. So, it was a really good quarter especially for multiplexes having back to back films like ‘Padmaavat’, Pad Man’, ‘ Raid’, ‘Sonu ke Titu Ki sweety’ and even ‘Hichki’ is performing good but for single screen it was an average scenario. Second half starting with ‘Baaghi 2’ there’s a good scope, then we have ‘October’ having Varun Dhawan and in Hollywood we have ‘Avengers’, ‘Deadpool’. May month might be weak but in June we have the biggest films like ‘Veere Di Wedding’ and many more. So it’s going to be a great second quarter too.

MURLI CHHATWANI (MANAGING PARTNER PANORAMA STUDIO DISTRIBUTORS LLP )

The first quarter has been below expectation not because many of the films didn’t work but because very few films have released but we have one 300 crore film which is ‘Padmaavat’, we have within 200 core film which is ‘Raid’, ‘Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety’ and we had one really good and critically acclaimed film like ‘Pad Man’. And the other films have been good fillers like ‘Aiyaary’, and a few English films. Overall it has been an over average quarter and it’s been not as per expectation but a little below expectations. But we are hoping from the 30th March onwards starting with ‘Baaghi 2’, looking at the films the first three months up to 29th June which is Sanjay Dutt’s biopic is looking excellent.

NIKKHIL ADVANI (PRODUCER, DIRECTOR)

The beginning of the year was remarkably great for quality content and their commercial success; here’s hoping the forthcoming months not only live up but surpass this first quarter making 2018 a record-breaking year.

RAJAT RAWAIL (PRODUCER)

Overall I would say ‘Padmaavat’ is a landmark film. It was received with open arms from Pan India and all around the world. In the industry, this kind of cinema will always be a landmark film. And I think, overall the first quarter has been pretty well, there have been a couple of ups and downs, there have been some experimental films like ‘Pad Man’ which have done extremely well keeping the genre in mind. Films like ‘Pad Man’ and ‘Raid’ which usually don’t cater to hardcore mass audiences, so for that kind of genre the films have performed exceptionally well at the box-office and had generated much more than expected and been appreciated. And this kind of genre if it doesn’t get appreciated like the way ‘Pad Man’ and ‘ Raid’ have been, we don’t fi nd these kind of ticket sales. And then we had the biggest sleeper hit in the last 12 months, the biggest sleeper of all time which is ‘Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety’ and we understand the dynamics that it wasn’t a very cost effective film, the director had proved it once again that he is a very capable filmmaker and doesn’t completely rely on star value and faces, he is capable of delivery, high content and give box- office a blockbuster. On the other hand there have been some expected films from big filmmakers which have not performed – unfortunately a film like ‘Aiyaary’ which didn’t really work at the box-office, which was expected from the film. But I believe that’s a passing phase and a big filmmaker will come back with a bigger blockbuster. So, yes it had been a decent first quarter and obviously ‘Padmaavat’ holding the flag with ‘Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety’, ‘Raid’, ‘Pad Man’. Usually the first quarter in films is not really great but 2018 had given us a good start and then we have some good films between April and June, we have ‘October’ which looks fantastic with Varun Dhawan and Shoojit Sircar, it looks like a great combination; it’s going to be a very interesting film to watch. And then we have ‘102 Not Out’ with legendary Amitabh Bachchan sir and Rishi Kapoor sir coming together in such a high concept film that would be fantastic. So there are a couple of films which we all looking forward to, so it’s going to be an interesting next quarter with Rajkumar Hirani’s next on the biopic of Sanjay Dutt. Next quarter looks good and this quarter has fairly gone well. It’s been a combination of big stars, big filmmakers, sleeper hits, and now we hope things go well ahead.

RUDRARUP DATTA (MARKETING HEAD, VIACOM 18 MOTION PICTURES)

The first quarter has been outstanding for Viacom18 Motion Pictures; ‘Padmaavat’ created history at the box – office and proved again that if you create a cinematic experience backed with a strong script, the audiences will flock to the theatres. What is even more heartening is that this phenomenon is not limited to India but across the 80 countries that ‘Padmavaat’ released in. ‘Padmavaat’ continues to draw audiences to theatres even now while the quarter turns. ‘Aapla Manus’, set the cash registers ringing in Marathi cinema which continues to thrive and grow. The first quarter also proved once again that audiences are looking for strong content and not pure star value. ‘Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety’ established a new benchmark of success and has given hope to many budding filmmakers to believe in themselves and their craft. ‘Raid’ again proved that good content doesn’t need gimmicks. This quarter has been fantastic and has started 2018 on a great note and now has ‘Baaghi 2’ which is expected to set some new records. Hope that the trend continues for the rest of the year.

AMAR BUTALA (CHIEF ACQUISITION OFFICER – FOX STAR STUDIOS)

The first quarter of the year is usually a muted period for the box – office buoyant only by the 26th January release day. The first 3 months of 2018 have been different and we have some solid numbers. Every month has had a box – office winner – starting with ‘Padmaavat’ in January at 300 crores. February again has two solid box – office winners‘Pad Man’ and the sleeper hit ‘Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety’. In March ‘Raid’ and ‘Hichki’ both continue to hold strong at the box – office. It’s a healthy sign not just because of the box-office numbers but also because films of varied genres have all performed – from a historical to a bromance film. The next quarter looks poised for good numbers as well with Rajkumar Hirani’s next and ‘Race 3’.

MURAD KHETANI (PRODUCER)

This quarter has done very well, better than last year and film industry always need the first quarter to do well and this year the first quarter has proved it. If the content is good then it can work anytime of the year. We had good films starting from ‘Padmaavat’, ‘Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety’, ‘Raid’ has also done fair business and ‘Baaghi 2’ is looking good. And second quarter is looking quite interesting with ‘Blackmail’ and ‘October’, so hoping for the best to come.

RAHUL DHOLAKIA (DIRECTOR)

I believe it was good. You had a big success in ‘Padmaavat’; ‘Pad Man’ did decent business. ‘Sonu Ke Titu ki Sweety’ was a surprise and ‘Raid’ also did reasonable business, so box – office wise it was good. Content always plays an important role and stardom adds to it. Audiences want novelty, subjects we filmmakers chose, give them that; but let’s not fool ourselves, audiences don’t flock to the theatre just because of content, they want to be engaged and entertained and that’s a larger audience.

AMOD MEHRA (TRADE ANAYLST)

The first quarter has been very great in the recent past years, it has been extremely good that in the first quarter it has crossed 300 crores business and also crossed 100 crores for a small film like ‘Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety’. Films like ‘Hichki’, ‘Raid’ and ‘Pad Man’ which have been commendable and this three films were not commercial cinema still they have done reasonably well. So it’s been a very encouraging first quarter in that aspect. There were a few films which were a disappointment; films like ‘Pari’ and ‘Aiyaary’ which were expected to be good, they didn’t do well because of the budget if ‘Aiyaary’ had been promised with a small film it wouldn’t have been that bad but since the price was very high the cost of the film came in the way. When you make a fi lm like ‘Aiyaary’ it shouldn’t have a budget of 30- 40 crores, then it becomes really difficult to recover. Overall it has been a good start of the year even with the English films that came but the only problem was, except from ‘Padmaavat’ none of the other films have done well at the single screen. In single screens, even hit films like ‘Raid’ and ‘Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety’ didn’t do well because they all are multiplex films. So single screen business has suffered except ‘Padmaavat’, single screens are dying a slow natural death. So, all hopes are on the second half; ‘Baaghi 2’ is an out an out commercial cinema. Otherwise, it has been a very positive first quarter except for 4 to 5 films all have done exceedingly well.

JAY SHEWAKRAMANI (PRODUCER)

I think it has been a great first quarter for the film industry starting with ‘Padmaavat’, then ‘Pad Man’, ‘Raid’, ‘Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety’ and now ‘Hichki’. We have had more than one hit a month; on an average which I feel is a good and positive start, it’s been a healthy mix of star driven as well as content driven films, in some cases both; all in all a good reason to look forward to the rest of the year.

MILAP ZAVERI (WRITER, DIRECTOR)

We had one of the best quarters from years and films like ‘Padmaavat’ which faced quite a lot of issues, did well and also ‘Pad Man’ is quite a taboo subject which still did well. There was ‘Sonu ke Titu Ki Sweety’ became successful by earning 100 Cr. Also ‘Raid and ‘Hichki’ are good. There are many more good films coming up next like ‘October’ and many big films and looks exciting year ahead.

GIRISH TAURANI (ACTOR)

We had a great start with the kind of films which were released. ‘Padmaavat’ was supposed to come last year still it did well coming this year even though it was not released at few places, it did well at box – office. I personally also liked ‘Pad Man’ with the kind of character it was and did good numbers at the box – office. One of the biggest surprises was ‘Sonu ke Titu ki Sweety’ which was very entertaining and Luv Ranjan did a great job, everyone went with their friends and watched the fi lm. The year hasn’t ended yet and last film I saw was ‘Raid’ and that too was a good movie. I am excited for ‘Baaghi 2’ as they have created the buzz well among people and let’s see what the response from this film is. We have ‘Race 3’ coming up which is a big film for second quarter and I hope coming quarter is better than the first quarter.

RITESH SHAH (WRITER)

The first quarter did really well from ‘Padmaavat’ to ‘Raid’, to ‘Hichki’, ‘Sonu ke Titu ki Sweety’; I think we have had a great quarter comparatively. And if talking about box-office I think ‘Padmaavat’ is still going strong and even ‘Sonu ke Titu ki Sweety’ going strength to strength and even ‘Raid’ has been a hit so the year so far has been good. I am optimistic about the second quarter as we have ‘Baaghi 2’ ‘October’ so I think the trend of entertaining and coming with good topics will continue to do well in their size and strength. So, I do believe in these three months there have been good releases to hold on for the whole year and as money wise all have done really well; so, I think it’s not at all bad for the first quarter.

VISHAL PANDYA (DIRECTOR)

Generally in the whole year, different kinds of genres come but in these three months what I’ve noticed that all different genres have come. Like everything has worked in some or the other way like I would start with ‘Pad Man’ and then of course the most controversial film ‘Padmaavat’ which worked. And then ‘Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety’, it worked despite not having a big star-cast and it is a relatable film in today’s generation. And the best part in these three months, a film I saw and said, ‘wow!’ was for the film ‘Pari’ actually because till date, a mainstream A-list actress wasn’t there in a horror genre like this. So, I think this year has been really a good start for the industry where it kick-starts the year for all the different genres to come. Here within three months, it has proved that every subject that has worked be it reality, family drama, thriller, horror, and why it worked was mainly because of the right budget and that’s what happened with all the films. And I think if this continues then this year will be a great year for the film industry and also we learned that all films work when it’s the right budget.

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