Gujarati cinema on revival path, box office mop-up zooms

Rutam Vora Ahmedabad | Updated on January 20, 2018 Published on May 01, 2016

Director Anurag Kashyap

Strong youthful urban content drives growth

Having suffered an 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 Gujarati film industry record close to eight times rise in its box office collections in 2015, up from ₹7 crore in 2014 to ₹55 crore, showing the highest growth among all other regional cinema.

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 with most of them in 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 strong growth, in February this year, director Anurag Kashyap’s production house Phantom Films had tied up with Abhishek Jain, director of two blockbuster Gujarati films — Bey Yaar and Kewi Rite Jaish — to jointly produce Gujarati films. This provides a larger scale for Gujarati cinema.

“Gujarati cinema is undergoing a big revolution. The use of latest technology, music, sound, contemporary and fresh content has brought a complete makeover. The subject is more on urban setting that touches youth. We see a lot of individuals turning to become film entrepreneur to produce and direct films,” said Mrugank Shah, associate producer of latest hit Gujarati film, Gujjubhai The Great.

The penetration of multiplexes in smaller towns in past five years made it a winning proposition for producers. Gujarat has around 500 cinema screens now, of which new digital Gujarati films are released in about 350 screens.

State incentives

According to Shah, production costs have gone up from earlier ₹20-40 lakh to about ₹80 lakh to ₹1 crore for a digital A-grade Gujarati movie, but the same is partially compensated by State incentives in terms of subsidy upto ₹50 lakh. In February, 2016 Gujarat government increased the subsidy amount from earlier maximum ₹5 lakh to ₹50 lakh with additional incentive of ₹5 crore to National award winning films.

“With government encouragement and latest technology now, there is good scope for better and more Gujarati movies. However, one year isnt 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.

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

Challenges persist

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

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 dissuade the youth from turning to a regional movie.

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Published on May 01, 2016
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