The children’s films market is a virtually non-existent one and collectively contributes less than 0.2 percent to the Indian box office.
If we go by what the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) says about Indian film industry then it is the largest in the world with over 1,250 feature films. However, very few children’s films find their place in this industry and many don’t even see the light of day as the market for such movies is very small.
A recent addition to this genre was Amol Gupte’s Sniff that found very few takers; the film could manage to collect only Rs 50 lakh on its first weekend. Gupte’s other film Stanley ka Dabba that was quite well received by critics, did not fare so well at the box office, making only Rs 1.46 crore over its opening weekend.
Children’s movies as a whole do not have a wider approach and this remains the biggest thorn in the side for many filmmakers like Nagesh Kukunoor and Nandana Sen.
Kukunoor, who says that children’s films in India are often dumbed down, brought to theatres the movie Dhanak trying to capture the innocence of young minds. However, the film failed to charm the audience and raked in Rs 92 lakh over the first three days, thereby laying credence to the claim that this genre needs more support, not just from the viewers, but from the film fraternity as well.
To promote children’s films in India, an autonomous body called Children’s Film Society of India (CFSI) was set up. CFSI Chairman Mukhesh Khanna, popularly known for his character Shaktiman, has also expressed plenty of times his dissatisfaction regarding lack of support for children's films. In an interview to a media organisation, Khanna said that there are plenty of projects on board but not enough money.
CFSI also believes that this category of films is not only underfunded but also undervalued and the consumption is less too. Concurring with this belief, actor-director and also children’s author Nandana Sen says that not enough films for children are made in India.
The children’s films market is a virtually non-existent one and collectively contributes less than 0.2 percent to the Indian box office, according to a Hindu report.
But the success of films like Taare Zameen Par or Bajrangi Bhaijaan suggests otherwise. These films raked in Rs 9.65 crore and Rs 101 crore for the first weekend, respectively. However, these films were backed by star power, which is not an affordable choice for many directors pushing this genre.
Amitabh Bachchan’s Bhoothnath and the next film from the same franchise Bhoothnath Returns also grossed big numbers. While the former made Rs 8.64 crore over the first weekend, the latter raked in Rs 16.31 crore.
The struggle for these films continues, although Khanna is confident of bringing such movies to the commercial front. While film makers complain of no support from the industry, the market is demanding better content to ensure the growth of this category.
At a children’s film festival, film columnist Avinash Tripathi had said that as children’s films are not commercially successful, no big Bollywood producer enters this market.
Anurag Basu's Jagga Jasoos was the latest attempt to cater to this genre but even that film could not create any magic at the box office. The film could only add Rs 31.53 crore over its first weekend, even with a budget of Rs 131 crore.At present the only silver lining for children’s films is that think tank Niti Aayog made a recommendation that CFSI, which currently receives funding from the Union information and broadcasting ministry, be merged with the Films Division, which was formed in 1948 to make documentaries and films to publicise the work of the Union government and keep a record of India’s celluloid history.