Why is Ranveer Singhs 83 a theatrical flop? Decoding what did not work for this Kabir Khan-directed biopic

Movies do not go wrong, budget does – and the recently released Kabir Khan-directed sports drama, 83 ‘, is a good example of this statement. In front of Ranveer Singh, the film was mounted on a budget of Rs 250 crore, which over a period of time due to the delays caused by Covid-19 increased to Rs 280 crore. Recovering this would always be a big task, even in the pre-pandemic times.

The producers fetched approximately Rs 150 crore from non-theatrical sources, including the rebate from the UK government, giving Rs 130 crore to recover from theatrical medium. In a nutshell, the film had to have 230 crore Rs in the domestic belt and 60 crore in the overseas market to reach the breakeven mark. As things stand today, 83 are seeking to collect a domestic share of Rs 55 to 60 crore, whereas the overseas share is expected to be in the range of Rs 26 to 28 crore.

The total theatrical recovery of 83 ‘will be in the order of 80 crore, leaving a void of Rs 50 crore in the manufacturers’ pockets. If we now look at it independently, these are decent results for a feature film that arrived in the middle of the pandemic with some competition from Spider Man in the subways and Pushpa in the interior. Had it earned an additional Rs 25 crore in the domestic markets, one could even describe it as a good result given the time of its release. But that is when cost and economy come into play and reinsert the adage that the budget goes wrong.

The total theatrical recovery of 83 ‘will be in the order of 80 crore, leaving a void of Rs 50 crore in the manufacturers’ pockets. If we now look at it independently, these are decent results for a feature film that arrived in the middle of the pandemic

Himesh Mankad

Let’s be honest, the audience steps out to watch movies on the big screen despite the Omicron fears, and the collections of Pushpa and Spider Man in the Hindi belts talk a lot about this. Thank God for the success of these two films, more importantly Pushpa, as if it were not for them, most in the industry would have smeared the performance under the brand by blaming the innocent spectator – Omicron – where as in reality there are several others factors in play for the box office collections.

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So what went wrong for 83 ‘? Before we move on to the accessory factor, let’s focus on the big elephant content first. 83 ‘is a well-made film. But it lags behind in terms of bringing in the drama and suspense that a sports film justifies. There is too much focus on cricket, with little to do with the action behind the scenes. Clips of almost all matches (except the one against Zimbabwe) are available on YouTube with the actual players. What separates a film from a docu-story or an event in real life is the drama, which shows the team’s process of winning the historical event. 83 ‘focused on the historical event, but not the process behind it. It certainly extinguishes a large segment of the audience, giving the atmosphere of 1983 World Cup highlights. A docu-drama approach is fine, as a film is ultimately about the vision a director has for the story, but then the budgets have to be kept under control.

Thank God for the success of these two films, more importantly Pushpa, as if it were not for them, most in the industry would have smeared the performance under the brand by blaming the innocent spectator – Omicron

Himesh Mankad

The film also lacked the one big hit song in the narrative to get things started – and singing does not necessarily mean a dance number. The title track did wonders for Chak De India, as did Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, who benefited greatly from his soundtrack. For the past 20 years, the successful sports films from Hindi cinema – Lagaan, Chak De India, MS Dhoni Sultan and Dangal – were all personal stories with sports in the background. The personal struggle brought the drama to the narrative. With the exception of Dangal, music also played a major role in giving them a mainstream approach. But well, Dangal is Aamir Khan and he does not need music. His script choice just can’t go wrong in content-driven cinema.

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Aside from content and music, the 83 ‘team failed to position their epic as an event that would bring three generations of a family together to relive the greatest underdog story ever. The film’s team had to place the team of 15 players with their manager, as national heroes. They had to make them related to the young people of today through different approaches, but at the time of the film’s releases, the young people knew no one but Kapil Dev and Sunil Gavaskar. 83 ‘was a story about this one team, but the youth could not identify any of the national heroes. Do you remember Chak De India? Shimit Amin set up his film in a way so that the audience also messed up in fictional characters. Ditto for Lagaan, whereas the hall became a stadium when Kachra took wickets. Due to the lack of drama and emptiness of emotion, one celebrated wickets and runs scored in 83, but no one was messed up by the grades. One could say that the celebration was more due to the historical relevance of the event and not the film.

Do you remember Chak De India? Shimit Amin set up his film in a way so that the audience also messed up in fictional characters. Ditto for Lagaan, whereas the hall became a stadium when Kachra took wickets.

Himesh Mankad

There were also lots of fools in the pre-release campaign. Although it does not have the great significance, as content replaces everything. But the creators hosted pre-release events in Dubai, Kerala and Karnataka, but ignored the core markets – Delhi, Mumbai and Punjab (Kapil Dev’s birthplace), which contributed greatly to the success of a film like 83. If not in the plan this having been a last minute addition, made by the team that saw the success of Spider Man and Pushpa, as it was clear from December 17 that 83 ‘would have ample competition on its release date.

There were also distribution errors as the team went wrong on the price front. 83 ‘matched the price of Spider Man: No Way Home in most places, and it was ridiculous of the team to think that the audience would spend so much money in the middle of a pandemic for a film like 83. the pricing policy backfired in style as it kept the audience away, thereby narrowing the footholds. It is always better to sell more tickets at a relatively lower price than to sell fewer tickets at a high price. While one can definitively say that prices are affected, things could have been better if the tickets everywhere were within the reach of the audience.

All in all, it is a culmination of several factors that have taken a toll of 83, with the non-universal treatment of the content being paramount.

Also read | Box Office in Hindi Belts is LIVE despite the Omicron wave; Pushpa, 83 ‘and Spider Man cost 18 million Rs on January 1st

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