Marathi film industry poised for growth with superior content

MUMBAI: In recent times movies like KillaTimepassLai Bhaari and Fandry have managed to break regional shackles and create a buzz amongst all and sundry. Reason - the Rs 300+ crore Marathi film industry has been churning out some quality content lately. What’s more, made on puny budgets - when compared to the big daddy of Indian cinema - Bollywood, many a Marathi films are breaking even and also profiting.  


More often than not the fate of Bollywood movies depends on the star quotient. A Salman Khan movie will do well, no matter what. Such is the power and charisma of the man. Compared to this, in Marathi cinema, there is less reliance on stars as it is superlative content that sets the cash registers ringing.


The Riteish Deshmukh starrer Marathi movie Lai Bhaari collected over Rs 40 crore at the box office, while Timepass collected Rs 30 crore. On the other hand, Classmate collected nearly Rs 21 crore at the box office turnstiles. These numbers say a lot.


While these films get a limited theatrical release, when the content clicks with movie aficionados, distributors are ready to shell out that extra moolah for a wider release.


The Marathi film industry churns out close to 100 movies a year as compared to 1000+ Hindi movies that are released every year. While the cost of production of a mid-budget Marathi movie is Rs 1.5 crore, the budget touches Rs 3.5 crore for a big budget Marathi movie. On the other hand, promotions budgets are in the range of Rs 1.5 - 2 crore, which includes advertising, distribution and release cost.


Global Sports Entertainment And Media Solutions directors Arjun Singgh Baran and Kartik Nishandar said, “The Marathi film industry is showing great potential to grow further if strategised well. And the State government is doing a lot for the growth of the Marathi film industry. However, producers still have to pay rental to single screen theatres, which adds up to the overall cost. With this, the movie becomes expensive for the producer.”


With the proliferation of digital and social media, today every brand, movie, personality or company are using the medium to get their message across to million of people at one go. Reiterating the importance of the digital platform, Baran and Nishandar said that digital marketing plays a prominent role in the success of a movie. “Digital marketing over the last one year has grown to the next level with the presence of maximum number of youth on the digital platform. As the target audience has shifted from the age group of 14 to 45, the maximum exposure a movie gets is only through digital marketing,” the duo opined.


While the Marathi movie has always been high on the content, the industry didn’t get its rightful place under the sun until now due to lack of finance, distribution and proper marketing. However, in last five years or so, Marathi movies’ box office collections have seen a considerable jump.


According to director Swapna Joshi, content is the key for a movie’s success. “There is a drastic change in Marathi cinema content. There are three major positive changes that have taken place in Marathi film content over the past few years. The first is that the content is becoming very strong, bolder and wider. Secondly, while collaborating modern context into content, we are not letting go of our core values. Thirdly, the production value of a Marathi movie has really gone up in recent times. One thing that the industry should take care of is not to compromise quality over quantity,” Joshi said.


Key revenue generating factors for a movie are its theatrical distribution coupled with targeted promotions. Actor, director and producer Mahesh Kothare added, “Times have changed and there is an evolution of cinema, which gave an impetus to piracy. Unlike olden days, the shelf life of a movie these days is just a few weeks. So the total box office collections depend on the number of theatres that a movie has been released across. Maximum screens means maximum reach, which automatically results in maximum profit. While most of the revenue is recovered in the first week itself, if a movie runs for four weeks, it’s a bonus and if the run continues into the fifth week, the movie is a great success.” 


9X Jhakaas programming head Rohan Rane opined, “The Marathi film industry is growing and celebrities want to be a part of it because both the industries are working very closely with each other. There are many Marathi music launches and releases, which are attended by Bollywood biggies. Similarly, there are many Marathi actors, who have become a part of Bollywood movies.” 


The Indian film industry has a history of more than 100 years, wherein Marathi cinema is the oldest form of cinema. According to the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) and International Film Festival of India (IFFI), the first indigenously made film was Raja Harishchandra in 1913, which was produced by Dada Saheb Phalke, as part of Marathi cinema. It was made with Marathi dialogues while shooting with a fully Marathi crew.


That said, the Marathi film industry, which has been churning out superior National Award winning content lately, is poised for growth in the coming years even as the release environment gets more and more conducive.

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