Women on top: A look at how female-centric films saw a turnaround in 2017

By Maryam Farooqui

Maryam Farooqui

Moneycontrol News

Women may be leading in many walks of life but when it comes to the Indian film industry the story is a little different, there aren’t enough films letting the actress lead the way. However, there was a turnaround in 2017 when plenty of women-centric films made a mark at the box office. These films were not only critically acclaimed but gave strong returns on investments as well.

There were around 12 films with female-driven stories last year and it started with Kangana Ranaut’s power packed performance in Rangoon. However, the film was unable to translate the same in to good box office numbers and the fall was huge with collections worth Rs 28.82 crore with a big budget of Rs 61 crore.

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This signals that along with strong female centric roles, quality content is the preferred choice of the audience and the proof of this are movies like Naam Shabana, Lipstick Under My Burkha, Secret Superstar and Tumhari Sulu.

Naam Shabana, prequel to Baby and made on a budget of Rs 33 crore, was a spy thriller that revolved around Tapsee Pannu’s character, also performed well at the box office with collections close to Rs 50 crore.

Vidya Balan was back on the big screen with her film Begum Jaan but it was Tumhari Sulu that was a game changer for the star. The film stayed on the big screen for weeks and raked in Rs 42.36 crore and in its first week itself the film had gathered Rs 18 crore. It was Balan who had changed the scenario for women-centric films with regards to box office success. The 2011 film, The Dirty Picture had amassed Rs 108 crore with a budget of Rs 31 crore.

Amid all these films, a movie that requires a special mention is Zaira Wasim-starrer Secret Superstar that got the cash registers ringing across borders, especially China where the film made Rs 43 crore only on day one. The collection is far ahead of what Dangal had scored on its first day in the neighbouring country.

Another film that evoked good response from the audience was Lipstick Under My Burkha. But even before the film could hit the screens, it faced strong opposition from the Censor Board for its content. The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) had refused to clear the movie, saying the story is 'lady-oriented’ and their fantasy 'above life’. But to the filmmaker’s relief, Lipstick Under My Burkha was welcomed by the audience with open arms.

Playing in limited theatres with screen count of 400, Lipstick Under My Burkha collected Rs 1.22 crore on opening day. Owing to the film’s small budget of Rs 4.5 crore the film did decent business as compared to its peers, despite low earnings on day one. However, it took Lipstick Under My Burkha only 24 hours to double its earnings and the film grossed Rs 2.17 crore on day two.

Although, 2016 and 2017 were an indicator of change for women in the film business, the idea of cinema revolving around women isn’t new. And no more is age a barrier for an actress and nor does an actress’ marital status affect her career any longer, hinting that they no more have a shelf life.

However, everything boils down to economics and whether such films make enough profits. The year 2017 gave a clear verdict that good content and strong female characters are the right mix for box office success.