Bollywood is usually so starry-eyed and gullible when it comes big stars and massive-sounding numbers, that it generally ends up overlooking a concept as basic as ‘profitability’. While it’s understandable why people would go ga ga over the box office trade of Sanju or the next Khan release (Thugs of Hindostan or Zero), they tend to forget that these films are also expensive to make, and hence the profit isn’t *that* significant despite the record-breaking business. Meanwhile, there is a so-called ‘sleeper-hit’, that are becoming more and more profitable, with each passing year. Just look at Badhaai Ho.
There is good reason why films about the middle class in small towns has become a genre in Bollywood, in the last few years. With Ayushmann Khurrana making his debut in the 100-crore club with Badhaai Ho (on a reported budget of 23 crore), it has only reiterated the case for ‘thoughtful films’ at a modest budget. Here are 10 films from the last decade that were significant in paving the way for the blockbuster success of these tiny films today.
(B: Budget, BO: Box Office gross, ROI: Return on Investment)
B: 8 crore, BO: 104 crore, ROI: 1,200%
This 2012 film by Sujoy Ghosh was a game-changer in the way it established not just Vidya Balan’s stellar ability as an actor but also, how female actors could solely shoulder the responsibility of box office returns. Alia Bhatt’s Raazi, is in many ways, a consequence of Kahaani and many other films before that.
B: 23 crore, BO: 175 crore, ROI: 660.87%
Amar Kaushik’s film has proved to be the most profitable film of 2018. Made at a budget of Rs 23 crore, the film has grossed nearly seven times the money of its budget, establishing solid actors like Rajkummar Rao and Pankaj Tripathi as ‘bankable actors’.
3. Secret Superstar
B: 15 crore, BO: 977 crore, ROI: 6,413%
This Aamir Khan production releasing in the massive shadow of Dangal, comfortably made its way to becoming a ‘hit’. All hell broke loose, when the film released in China which contributed a significant chunk to the film’s 887-crore gross from overseas territories.
4. Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety
B: 30 crore, BO: 148 crore, ROI: 393.33%
Flagbearer of Bollywood ‘bromances’, director Luv Ranjan crossed over into the A-list with his first 100-crore film. Thanks to a ‘hit’ soundtrack, the film grossed nearly five times of the money invested in the film. Ranjan is reportedly working with Ranbir Kapoor and Ajay Devgn in his next.
B: 12.5 crore BO: 108 crore, ROI: 764%
Now-disgraced filmmaker Vikas Bahl made this remarkable film about a girl going through with her ‘honeymoon package’ after getting dumped on her wedding day. The film established Kangana Ranaut as a solid, bankable star and made more than eight times its budget.
6. Hindi Medium
B: 23 crore, BO: 334 crore, ROI: 1,352.17%
Another film propelled by China’s box office, was a comfortable hit back home. And the earnings skyrocketed further with its release in China, where it went on to earn more than 10 times of its initial investment.
B: 20 crore, BO: 135 crore, ROI: 575%
Ram Madhavani’s film was yet another modestly-budgeted film on the shoulders of a female actor, which went on to pay rich dividends for Sonam Kapoor’s street-cred as an actor revived some of her waning stardom.
8. Jaane Tu Yaa Jaane Na
B: 10 crore BO: 83.2 crore, ROI: 732%
Imran Khan’s debut was a modest affair compared to Harman Baweja’s Sci-Fi launch (no pun intended), both releasing on the same day. But while Baweja disappeared, Khan’s film won over the young college crowd and turned up a significant profit for Aamir Khan.
9. Tanu Weds Manu Returns
B: 39 crore BO: 198 crore, ROI: 408%
Aanand L Rai had been building up to such huge numbers for a while, with the first Tanu Weds Manu and Raanjhana. And with the 2015 film, Rai delivered his biggest hit nearly making five times the money, and establishing Kangana Ranaut as a bonafide star.
B: 23 crore BO: 107 crore, ROI: 365.21%
Held together by an unknown Taapsee Pannu and Amitabh Bachchan, this film paid rich dividends for producer Shoojit Sircar and turned out to be his most profitable film.
*The figures are based on reported and estimates by multiple reasonably credible sources. ROI is equal to gross return divided by budget multiplied by 100.