It would be safe to call Sanjay Leela Bhansali as the ‘hit maker’ of Bollywood. His last three films, Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela (2013), Bajirao Mastani (2015) and Padmaavat (2018), have been blockbuster hits. Each one of them grossed over Rs 100 crore at the box office. Over the years, the director has won over the audience with his perfect aesthetic sense, his choice of actors, and the extravagance he creates on the big screen with his costumes and sets. Now, with Alia Bhatt-led Gangubai Kathiawadi, film trade analysts expect packed theatres and big earnings once again.
Trade analyst Taran Adarsh feels that the maverick filmmaker Bhansali is a “brand” and that itself is a big plus for Gangubai Kathiawadi. “There is a very strong audience for Bhansali itself. If you notice the response to his last three films, be it Bajirao Mastani or Padmavat, all of them have done tremendous business at the box office. Of course, there were stars in the film, but Sanjay Leela Bhansali is also a star in my opinion,” he told IndianExpress.com.
Adarsh feels the next big thing that might work for the magnum opus is the Bhatt-Bhansali pairing. This is the first time that the actor-director duo have come together for a film.
Film producer and trade analyst Girish Johar echoed the sentiment and believes Bhansali “is one of the topmost directors and a huge draw at the box office.” He said, “Bhansali is a brilliant craftsman, and he is completely sure about what he is doing. So, when you have filmmakers like him, you have to bow down to their conviction.”
What adds to the possibility of Gangubai Kathiawadi becoming a box office hit is the coming together of Bhansali with an actor par excellence, Alia Bhatt. “Alia is a star performer, and she does have her traction. None of her films have failed to perform at the box office or there is no film where she hasn’t performed well. This is an offbeat film for her and not a regular commercial or gloss affair,” Girish Johar opined.
Johar pegged the Gangubai Kathiawadi’s opening day box office collection at Rs 5 crore. He suggested, “These are two A-grade talents coming together, so I am sure, at least in the urban multiplexes and top cities, it will be a draw.”
Though the film has a strong actor-director combination backing it, there are still chances of it not meeting the expectations in terms of its box office collection. Taran Adarsh stated, “The only minus is that these are the Covid times, and you cannot expect miracles overnight. I am sure over the weekend and with each passing day, of course, based on merit since I have not watched the film, it will definitely gain prominence, provided the film’s content is strong.”
Girish Johar also emphasised that the pandemic scare might affect the film’s collection at the ticket counters. But, if Gangubai Kathiawadi flourishes at the box office, it will “instil a sense of confidence in the mind of producers and exhibition fraternity.”
Gangubai Kathiawadi features Alia in the titular role of Gangubai, one of the most powerful, loved and respected madams in Mumbai’s red-light area Kamathipura in the 1960s. It also stars Ajay Devgn in a supporting role.
Besides Gangubai Kathiawadi, cinephiles have two options in Ajith’s Valimai and Pawan Kalyan’s Bheemla Nayak. Johar feels, “Valimai will be good down south since Ajith has good traction. If the film does well in the Hindi belt too, just like Pushpa did, Ajith will get a new market developed for himself in the Hindi region.”
Taran Adarsh thinks Valimai and Bheemla Nayak will be big opposition to Gangubai Kathiawadi in the south. “But looking at the bright side of it, three big films are coming together, the Indian box office will witness fantastic numbers over the weekend,” he concluded.