After a relatively demure start, Uri: The Surgical Strike exploded at the box office and went on to become the biggest hit of the year. It stars neither the Khans nor the Greek Gods. It proved that content is king and emphatically set the tone for the year. The age of conventional stardom is over. As the Bollywood Badshah Shah Rukh Khan himself said, it is the story that is the hero and rest of us are just secondary. How true!
And another phenomenon that was observed in this year is critics going eeriely wrong when it comes to matching the tastes of the audience. True that not every time all critics need to praise or denounce a film just based on the tastes of the audience. But just like the top stars in the recent past, critics too failed to catch the audience pulse. As many as half a dozen films which are panned by the critics went on to become commercially very successful. They can indeed be termed fan-favorite films.
The patriotic vibes continued with films like Uri, Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi and Kesari and various subjects like lesbianism, discrimination, and age-gap between a couple are discussed with various degrees of success. Films in several genres are released and the audience proved to be genre-agnostic (watch any genre) provided the content is good or to their tastes.
Successful Movies (Hits and Blockbusters)
In all 36 major films released in the first half of 2019. Among them, a dozen are commercially successful and two more films performed average. The success ratio is above the average of previous years and stands at 36%. Every month except for January witnessed at least a couple of films doing well at the box office. 6 films are recorded as blockbusters (based on their budget and audience love) and 8 are hits or super hits. Let's take a look at the highlights first half of 2019.
|1||Uri: The Surgical Strike||Aditya Dhar||Vicky Kaushal, Paresh Rawal, Yami Gautam, Mohit Raina, and Kirti Kulhari||Blockbuster|
|2||Badla||Sujoy Ghosh||Amitabh Bachchan, Tapsee Pannu, Amrita Singh, and Tony Loca||Blockbuster|
|3||The Tashkent Files||Vivek Agnihotri||Naseeruddin Shah, Shweta Basu Prasad, Mithun Chakraborty, Mandira Bedi, and Pallavi Joshi||Blockbuster|
|4||Avengers: Endgame*||Joe and Anthony Russo||Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evens, Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo, and Brie Larson||Blockbuster*|
|5||PM Narendra Modi||Omung Kumar||Vivek Oberoi, Manoj Joshi, Boman Irani, and Barkha Sengupta||Blockbuster|
|6||Kabir Singh||Sandeep Reddy Vanga||Shahid Kapoor, Kiara Advani, Soham Majumdar, Arjan Bajwa, Suresh Oberoi, Nikita Dutta, and Kamini Kaushal||Blockbuster|
|7||Gully Boy||Zoya Akhtar||Ranveer Singh, Alia Bhatt, Siddhant Chaturvedi, Vijay Raaz, and Kalki Koechlin||Hit|
|8||Total Dhamaal||Indra Kumar||Ajay Devgn, Madhuri Dixit, Anil Kapoor, Riteish Deshmukh, Arshad Warsi, and Javed Jaffrey||Big Hit|
|9||Kesari||Anurag Singh||Akshay Kumar, Parineeti Chopra, Mir Sarwar, Vansh Bhardwaj, Jaspreet Singh, Vivek Saini, and Vikram Kochhar||Big Hit|
|10||Junglee||Chuck Russell||Vidyut Jammwal, Pooja Sawant, Asha Bhatt, and Makarand Deshpande||Hit (Domestic)|
|12||De De Pyaar De||Akiv Ali||Ajay Devgn, Tabu, Rakul Preet Singh, Alok Nath, and Javed Jaffrey, and Jimmy Shergill||Big Hit|
|13||Bharat||Ali Abbas Zafar||Salman Khan, Katrina Kaif, Jackie Shroff, Sonali Kulkarni, Sunil Grover, Disha Patani, and Tabu||Hit|
|14||Article 15||Anubhav Sinha||Ayushmann Khurrana, Isha Talwar, Sayani Gupta, Kumud Mishra, Manoj Pahwa, Veen, and Sumbul Touqeer||Hit**|
*Technically Avengers: Endgame is not a Bollywood (for that matter Indian film), in 2019, it is the highest grossing film in India with more than 460 Cr. in gross and a Nett of 375 Cr.
|1||Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi||Radhakrishna Jagarlamudi and Kangana Ranaut||Kangana Ranaut, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub, Atul Kulkarni, Jisshu Sengpta, and Richard Keep||Average|
|Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Amrita Rao, Avantika Akerekar, Sudhir Mishra, and Rajesh Khera||Average|
|3||Romeo Akbar Walter||Robbie Grewal||John Abraham, Mouni Roy, Jackie Shroff, Raghubir Yadav, and Sikander Kher||Above Average|
Best Movies Of The First Half of 2019
Shahenshah Amitabh Bachchan once again proved his box office appeal with this charming thriller directed by the highly rated Sujoy Ghosh who directed films like Kahaani previously. The official Hindi remake of the Spanish thriller The Invisible Guest (Contratiempo) which also stars Tapsee Pannu performed like a champ at the box office and received high critical acclaim. As a small matter, it also won Pycker India's Best Movie of the Week (4-9 March 2019). It grossed about Rs. 139 Cr. and a domestic nett of Rs. 88 Cr.
Kesari which tells the story of the battle between 21 soldiers of the 36th Sikhs of the British Indian Army and 6,000–10,000 Afridi and Orakzai Pashtun tribesmen in 1897 which was called the greatest last stand in the history of mankind. The Anurag Singh directorial starring Akshay Kumar received praise for the intense performances and bringing into the light of a significant event in history. Kesari was a Pycker India's Best Movie of the Week (18-23 March 2019). The movie grossed over Rs. 205.53 Cr. and a domestic nett of 154.51 Cr.
A hard-hitting crime drama about caste discrimination, the Ayushmann Khurrana starrer directed by Anubhav Sinha is a very well reviewed commercial hit. Top-notch performances, currently relevant subject without any dilution by sugar-coating and objective filmmaking makes it an instant classic. As of this writing, the movie collected a domestic nett of 31.27 Cr. Article 15 was Pycker India's Best Movie of the Week (24-29 June 2019).
Surprises Of The 1st Half of 2019
For a film that received an overwhelmingly negative critical response, Total Dhamaal is the biggest surprise of the year as far as commercial hits concerned. A star-studded ensemble cast, fun a minute ride (albeit brainless comedy), and a director who knows what he was doing. It grossed over Rs. 226.3 Cr. and a domestic nett of 154 Cr. It ran for several weeks in mass circuits. Surprisingly, it also performed well in overseas markets.
Sonchiriya is the reverse of Total Dhamaal. Hailed as an instant classic (and also Pycker India's Best Movie of the Week) and a modern masterpiece, the Indian Western-style film set in Chambal area. The Abhishek Chaubey directorial is peppered with stellar performances from a brilliant cast in the form of Manoj Bajpayee, Sushant Singh Rajput, Ashutosh Rana, Ranveer Shorey, and Bhumi Pednekar and is made to high standards. Surprisingly even positive word of mouth couldn't save this film. It ended up with an India Nett of 6.65 Cr. But trust us, it is a must-watch film.
The Tashkent Files
Imagine how a movie which is ransacked by the critics who called it mediocre in every possible way and propaganda performs? Well, this Vivek Agnihotri directorial which is about the mystery surrounding the death of former Indian prime minister Lal Bahadur Shastri. Despite such venomous negativity (many reviewers just stopped short of giving zero-rating), it found a niche audience and ran for more than 11 weeks and collected Rs. 20 Cr. which is about 10 times its budget. Truth be spoken, despite our political affiliations, The Tashkent Files is a movie of merit.
Rage Of The 1st Half of 2019
Uri - The Surgical Strike
Directed by Aditya Dhar, and starring Vicky Kaushal and Yami Gautam in the lead roles, the film which depicts India's first surgical strikes in retaliation for Uri terror attack released amidst no expectations but ran for more than 15 weeks and went on to become the highest grossing Indian film of 2019 (the position it may relinquish to Kabir Singh soon is another matter). Well-made and well-acted, in a time of uncertainty and raising patriotic fervor, Uri grossed about 343 Cr. with an India Nett of 246 Cr. to become one of the highest grossing Bollywood movies of all time.
Ah, Kabir Singh! The highly talked about Bollywood remake of Tollywood's sensational hit Arjun Reddy has taken the box office like a tsunami and has yet to slow even after 2 weeks. It has collected more than 10 Cr. every day since its release for 10 days and has yet to go below Rs. 7.5 Cr. Blockbuster? Small word. All time blockbuster. Trade pundits are flabbergasted and are unable to predict how much it grossed.
Expectedly the movie hit the wrong spot with most of the critics and polarized opinions. But everyone agreed that Shahid Kapoor has delivered his best performance in this Sandeep Reddy Vanga directorial. As of this writing, the movie collected an India nett of Rs. 210 Cr. and is set to join the 300 Cr. club hopefully. Also, it is the fastest film in 2019 to join 200 Cr. club in just 13 days. Faster even than Bhai's Bharat.