WHAT IS BOLLYWOOD’S HUNDRED CRORE CLUB?

 WHAT IS BOLLYWOOD’S HUNDRED CRORE CLUB?

Indians have always been fascinated by numbers. We take great pride in the fact that Aryabhatta, the discoverer of the idea of zero, came from our lands. We’re a nation of engineers. We need to measure things. Concepts such as wealth and success don’t mean anything to us if we cannot put a number to it. In the modern world of likes and shares, then, our natural minds – susceptible to numbers – have been bent further, and we regularly obsess over who has how many millions of followers, who has how many millions of rupees, whose movies have made the most amount of money etc.
 Bollywood, never slow when it comes to exploiting the gullibility that lies in us, introduced in 2008 a ‘club’ that none of us had heard of before. It called it the 100-crore club. This is a club whose doors open only to those movies, it stated, that make more than 100 crores in revenue. Never mind that it’s a completely arbitrary number. For one, a movie’s revenue is almost never a factor in whether it was a hit or a flop. What makes more sense from a business point of view is the profit margin (if there was a profit). So one could actually argue that a movie made on a budget of 40 lakhs and goes on to earn 4 crores in revenue (a 1000% profit margin) is more successful – as a business – than one that is made on 100 crores and goes on to earn 130 crores in revenue (a 30% profit margin).
 For another, even if we assume that revenue means something, the fact that we measure it in rupees means that the club has to forever expand. With the rapid devaluation of the rupee, what was in 2008 a huge number has now become almost a pittance. Now, perhaps, we have to begin speaking of a 200-crore club, or even a 400-crore club. In the last six years, the rupee has devalued at least to half its value, so it only makes sense to expand the criteria.
 But no. None of this means anything to the common Indian man fascinated by numbers. To him, the number 100 still means something grand and large. And 100 crores is still a ridiculously large number for most of us. So when someone tells us that a movie made 100 crores in revenue, we’re suitably impressed, because for most of us, that number is just unimaginable. Our brains are not big enough to fathom it.
 The club itself has been growing, too. In 2008, it only had Aamir Khan in it, when his Three Idiots made a mind-boggling amount of money (for that year). But then, once people realised the size of the market, they began swelling their budgets, and as expected, the more you spend in getting the word out, the more people you reach, and the more people you reach, the more people you pull into the theatres. So 100 crores became 200 in no time. Shahrukh Khan entered the club, then Salman. Now even Hrithik, Ajay Devgn and Akshay Kumar are erstwhile members.
 So is Ranbir Kapoor, whose Barfi became a surprise entry into this club. Even Talaash, which everyone thought was a ‘classy’ movie that is not meant for the masses, managed to pull in 174 crores against a budget of 40 crores.
 At the top of the pile sits Dhoom 3, which has so far raked in 533 crores across all its channels. Very soon, one thinks, we will be talking about a 1000-crore club.
 But ultimately, what does it mean? The number sounds great, but does it tell us anything about what the movie is like? For instance, Dhoom 3 was vilified for being a mindless product by most reviewers. Chennai Express did that too. Happy New Year and Bang Bang, two other movies that got roundly dismissed this year, shared the same fate, but still managed to pull in 340 crores each.
 That is the whole point, though. We’re not in an era where movies need to be watched by a certain set of people, and then wait for word of mouth to spread. Social media and other channels have given movie makers the ability to reach all of their market in one shot. Get to everybody, this mantra says, release it throughout the world on the same day, and get people to watch it once. That’s it. Once that is done, who cares if he reviews are bad? They only need you to watch it once.
 So the hundred-crore club is an excellent way to tell which have been the most marketed movies in Bollywood’s history. You want the best movies made by Bollywood? That will be a harder search. Because you see, no one can make a club for ‘good movies’.
 When there is no number in it, Indians don’t pay attention. What to do? We’re like this only.
 

Heena

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