There was a period in Hindi film industry when stars and superstars ruled the roost and multi-starrers were the order of the day and one had to queue up for the dates of the stars and the poor producer was at the stars mercy. But now the whole scenario has changed. Small films with newcomers or lesser stars are turning to be big hits and the big films are falling of the box office windows. Films set in mofussil towns or villages are ruling the roost and films set in the large Northern hemisphere of India with middle class settings and simple stories are earning big bucks at the box office. This year alone films like ‘Hindi Medium’, ‘Bareilly Ki Barfi ’, ‘Shubh Mangal Saavdhan ‘, ‘Newton’ have been bona fide hits. Hindi Medium did well in spite of a biggie like Half Girlfriend starring Arjun Kapoor and Shraddha Kapoor releasing along with it but the audiences adored Hindi Medium; and the film romped home with a business of more than 60 crores. For a solo Irfaan Khan film this kinda number was unheard of before but the content worked a charm and audiences lapped up the film whole heartedly. Bareilly Ki Barfi directed by Ashwini Iyer Tiwari and written by her husband Nitesh Tiwari of Dangal fame was the sleeper hit of the year with a cast of Ayyushman Khurana, Rajkummar Rao and Kriti Sanon and the audiences really identified with the characters and the performances especially that of Rao and the story and the music had the audiences in a tizzy. We have also seen the success of a rom-com adult comedy like Shubh Mangal Saavdhan which had a very bold subject but the audiences shared the problems of the actors in the film in a very realistic way and when the film released along a biggie like Milan Luthria’s Baadshaho starring big stars like Ajay Devgn and Emraan Hashmi, it was Shubh Mangal Saavdhan which won the race at the box office. Last week too, we saw a small film like ‘Newton’ about voting in a Naxalite fested area led by a very diligent and conscientious officer played by Rajkumar Rao which has caught the audiences fancy after the film was declared as India’s entry in the forthcoming Oscars. The Indian Government has also granted the producer a purser of one crore for his efforts to make such an issue based film. Why is the change happening? Are we going back to the era of Bimal Roy, Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Basu Chatterjee, Shakti Samanta, Sai Paranjpye who made films with limited budget and limited resources but their films really communicated well with the audiences and they are still remembered to this date. Films which has small town setting at its core are giving audiences a feeling that these are their stories even the hugely successful big stars films from this year ‘Jolly LLB 2’, ‘Badrinath Ki Dulhania’, ‘Toilet: Ek Prem Katha’ all were rooted to smaller towns and showcased the flavour of not a metro city. It is clear the pan the India viewer wants films which are true to their life. Will this trend last long? Or is it just a passing phase? But all we can say that these small little big films are like proverbial David to the Goliath. Encore! Trade Magazine