Despite big banners, big stars and even bigger budgets, some of the recent Bollywood releases like Action Replayy, Guzaarish and Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey have all bombed at the box office.
"Since the first week of November, which sees brisk business due to the festive season, Bollywood has lost almost Rs 80 crore with Action Replayy. Guzaarish and Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey's no show," says trade analyst Taran Adarsh.
"We have had 15 releases in the last one month. Except for Golmaal-3 none of the movies have been able to recover their money," he adds.
Which begs the question: Is Bollywood churning out bad films?
"Yes, it's true. The content of the films are to be blamed. There is no other reason why films are not working at the box office. If the content is good, the film will be appreciated by the audience," says Vinod Mirani, another trade pundit.
Trade analyst Komal Natha agrees. "Producers do not have any excuses to give this year. The slump cannot be blamed on cricket or examinations."
But how does one explain the success ofGolmaal-3, whose content is nothing but a series of gags? Are the viewers interested only in comedy films and not serious or realistic ones?
Komal Natha disagrees. "If that was the case then Peepli Live or the recent film Phas Gaya Re Obama wouldn't have worked, and Action Replayy which is also a comedy should have clicked with the audience."
According to Taran Adarsh, the real problem lies in the cost of the film. "Films today are going over budget. A film like Guzaarish costs Rs 60 crore. The film was able to get back only Rs 25 crore by selling the satellite and music rights but it was tough to recover the rest," he says.
"Apart from actors, directors have also started charging exorbitant fees which obviously makes all the finances go for a toss," Taran Adarsh adds. "There are too many choices available but honestly, none have been enticing enough to make audiences rush to the theaters to book tickets in advance. The fate of last weekend's releases is known by one and all with only Phas Gaya Re Obama getting good reviews."
Asked if the steep ticket prices are a deterrent, Aman Gill, who heads the films division at Endamol, says that though the pricing may play a role, it is bad content and bad budget to blame for the films' box office failure. Plus, there are too many releases crammed towards the end of the year.
"A common man in India hardly watches 10-12 films in a year. Here we are talking of 15 films in one month," he says adding, "small budget films do need to shout a lot more to get noticed, and though Phas Gaya Re Obama got good reviews, it couldn't make an impact at the box office. Maybe with a little more marketing it could have been a bigger hit."
With just three big releases -- No Problem, Tees Maar Khan and Toonpur Ka Superhero -- slated for the three remaining weeks of the year, it's doubtful if the situation will change much.