x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Crunch time for Bollywood

It has been a disappointing year for the box office, and Bollywood's last release, Tees Maar Khan, will be an indicator of how Bollywood fares this year.

The next two weeks will be crucial for Bollywood as they look to the holiday season for a boost in ticket sales.

With most of the Indian festivals including Diwali and Eid out of the way, Bollywood expects cinema-goers, divested of religious obligations, to be with their families and take in some of the year's big releases, including Tees Maar Khan.

It will be no different in the Middle East, where the film will be released ahead of the Indian, European and American markets in order to score well at the box office.

Tees Maar Khan, starring Akshay Kumar and Katrina Kaif is directed by Farah Khan, who delivered Om Shanti Om which has become the highest-grossing Indian film to date. Khan will look to repeat her success with this piece of comedy and satire that is billed as a film about a con man who masquerades as a director and uses his sets to stage heists. The cheeky trailer calls Kumar's character "a half Robin Hood" because "he steals from the rich but doesn't give to the poor".

During the promotion of the film in Dubai, experts said it would be a crucial indicator of how Bollywood's numbers will tally up this year.

After all, it has been a disappointing year at the box office, both in India and abroad. After several big-budget flops that included Hrithik Roshan's Kites, Shahid Kapoor's Paathshala and Badmaash Company, and the animated feature Bal Haanuman, Tees Maar Khan is the last big release of the year.

Only a dozen films out of 200 Bollywood productions have been declared a success this year.

The unexpected surprises at the box office this year were the films that went retro with style and story lines. Films such as Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai with a plot straight out of the 1970s about a power struggle between two gang members, complete with cabaret songs and larger-than-life personalities, was a hit. As were films such as Housefull, that simply tapped into the music of the 1970s and came out on top.

This trend was started by Khan with Om Shanti Om, which was one of the first Bollywood attempts at a retro satire that cleverly incorporated a story line about reincarnation, justice and long-suffering mother.

Along those lines came Dabanng this year. With Salman Khan as a hot-tempered police officer, a character who was well known and loved in the 1970s and 1980s films, but has since become obsolete. The director Abhinav Kashyap offered a parody that became this year's biggest seller.

Although Tees Maar Khan is not set in the past, it is made in the inimitable style of Khan, and here's hoping it finally delivers some cheer to the world's largest film industry.