Gujarati cinema hits the box office with 8 times growth in 2015

Rutam Vora Ahmedabad | Updated on January 20, 2018 Published on April 28, 2016

Film-maker Anurag Kashyap (file photo)

Having suffered alienation from the mainstream audience for decades, Gujarati cinema has quickly revived itself with renewed content and modern technology in line with its other regional counterparts.

This has helped the Gujarati film industry record a close to eight times rise in its box-office collections in 2015 at Rs 55 crore, up from Rs 7 crore in 2014, showing the highest growth for regional cinema as a whole.

The remarkable success is seen attracting more entrepreneurs than ever before into Gujarati film-making. At least 75-80 new Gujarati films are in the pipeline this year, most of which have an urban setting.

"Unlike films in the past, there has been a spurt in urban-centric films with growing investment. Films such as Gujjubhai the great, Chhelo divas and Bey yaar have performed well at the box office," a FICCI-KPMG Media and Entertainment Industry Report 2016 said.

Bollywood money

On the back of the strong growth, in February this year, director Anurag Kashyap's production house Phantom Films tied up with Abhishek Jain, director of two blockbuster Gujarati films — Bey Yaar and Kewi Rite Jaish — to jointly produce Gujarati films. This would provide a larger scale for Gujarati cinema.

"Gujarati cinema is undergoing a big revolution. The use of the latest technology, music, sound, contemporary and fresh content has brought about a complete makeover. The subject is more urban-centric that touches the youth. We see a lot of individuals becoming film entrepreneurs to produce and direct films," said Mrugank Shah, associate producer of the latest Gujarati hit, Gujjubhai The Great.

The penetration of multiplexes in the smaller towns over the past five years has been an added blessing for producers. Gujarat has around 500 cinema screens now; new digital Gujarati films are released in about 350 screens.

State incentives

According to Shah, production costs have gone up from the earlier Rs 20-40 lakh to about Rs 80 lakh to Rs 1 crore for a digital A-grade Gujarati movie, but the same is partially compensated by State incentives in the form of subsidy of up to Rs 50 lakh. In February, the Gujarat government increased the subsidy amount from the earlier maximum of Rs 5 lakh to Rs 50 lakh with additional incentive of Rs 5 crore for national award winning films.

"With Government encouragement and the latest technology, there is good scope for better and more Gujarati movies. However, one year isn't enough to measure the success. This trend has to continue with increased acceptability from the audience," said Mayursinh Jadeja, producer of Apne to Dhirubhai, which ran for 52 weeks in theatres in 2014.

Their earning prospects are further improving with several films being considered for overseas rights and digital rights.

Challenges persist

However, regional cinema continues to face challenges of uncertain profitability. According to report, Tamil cinema produced 203 movies in 2015, only 18 of which were profitable. Similarly, the Telugu film industry, which produced India's highest grossing flick, Baahubali-The Beginning, saw only 30 per cent of its 162 films making profits.

Shah maintained that for regional cinema the competition is not just Hindi movies, but also the easy and quick sources of entertainment on hand-held devices, which dissuades the youth from turning to regional movies.

Published on April 28, 2016
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