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A mixed year for Bollywood

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Indian box office couldn‘t have been more definite with its message in 2011: content is king. If anything, The Dirty Picture symbolised it all. Made on a budget of around Rs 200 million, the film netted Rs 839 million from the box office. The big disappointments were Game and Ra.One, both expensive films with the Shah Rukh Khan venture easily being his costliest product.

For the first time, four Bollywood films -- Ready, Bodyguard, Singham and Ra.One -- crossed the Rs 1 billion mark in a year.

More Bollywood films were released in 2011 compared to the earlier year, with the flood coming in the final quarter. The year saw 141 films hitting the screens, up from 130 in 2010. The fourth quarter saw as many as 40 releases, followed by 38 in the second and third quarter respectively.

Trade analysts say Bodyguard, Ready, Singham were the three big hits and The Dirty Picture, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, Murder 2, Delhi Belly and Sahib, Biwi Aur Gangster did respectable business.

But will 2011 be known for its hits or flops? Says producer Mukesh Bhatt, “On the whole, it was a good year for small-to-medium budget films. Several big budget films failed to gain at the box office. People fell for films with good content and that is why films like Murder 2, The Dirty Picture and No One Killed Jessica worked while bad films like Ra.One, Desi Boyz and Rascals among others had to bite the dust.”

The year belonged to Salman Khan who spun out Bodyguard and Ready. Ajay Devgn also had a great year with his super hit Singham.

2011 saw the return of action-oriented genre in a big way with the release of films like Bodyguard, the top grosser of the year with a net collection of Rs 1.47 billion, Ready, Singham and Force among others. The year also saw the release of many comedy and romantic films.

Bollywood filmmakers dug their hands into other genres like 3D films (Ra.One and Haunted 3D), crime and suspense thrillers (No One Killed Jessica, Murder 2, 7 Khoon Maaf and Not A Love Story).

The surprise hit of the year, however, was The Dirty Picture, a low-budget film inspired by the life and death of a racy 1980s B-movie actresss Silk Smita. The film put much-needed steam to the year that started slowly. Said Bhatt, “Small and medium budget films like The Dirty Picture proved to the world that content is the only force that drives a film, not big stars.”

2011 saw Bollywood taste big success with the remakes of south Indian films. These include Singham, Bodyguard, Ready and Force that were remade from their Tamil, Malayalam and Telugu originals.

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