In the time where Bollywood producers seem in no mood to tighten their purse strings and hence spend like a sailor on the making of their films, with no idea how their movie is going to fare at the box-office, there are also some filmmakers who, breaking the mould, deliver successful products at nominal budgets. It is true that big budget films, which are shot across foreign locals, have elaborate song and dance numbers and feature some topnotch actors, seem to be much more appealing and captivating to the larger section of the audience, but Bollywood has time and again also produced films that defy the logic of a high budget and eventually end up making an absolute fortune, greatly to the astonishment of the fans and fraternity. Take a look for yourself at these Bollywood’s low budget movies which went on to become blockbusters.
10. PAAN SINGH TOMAR
‘Paan Singh Tomar’, a film which was based on the life of an athlete of the same name, who later becomes a dacoit, had a powerfully riveting story which impressed the audience everywhere. When the film released, not many people had actually gone to watch it on its opening day, despite it having a world renowned actor like Irrfan Khan in the cast. Resultantly, the movie made a poor collection of mere Rs. 85 lacks on Day 1. But the ones who watched the film on the first day came out with excellent word of mouth. Soon the film gained momentum and the audience thronged the theaters.
Directed by Tigmanshu Dhulia, ‘Paan Singh Tomar’ was released alongside a rom-com titled ‘London Paris New York’. On its opening day, ‘London Paris New York’ made better money than ‘Paan Singh Tomar’. However, on the second day, tables were reversed. ‘Paan Singh Tomar’, which collected a meager amount of Rs. 85 lakhs on the opening day, overtook the box office collections of ‘London Paris New York’. The film showed unbelievable growth and pulled in Rs. 1.35 crores on Day 2. Sunday turned out to be even more beneficial for the film as it collected Rs. 2 crores. The total box office income of the movie, after adding its weekend collection, stood at an impressive sum of Rs. 4.25 crores. In weekdays, the film attracted more audience and ended its one week un at Rs. 7.54 crores.
‘Paan Singh Tomar’ proved to be a dark horse. Made on a shoestring budget of Rs. 4.5 crores, the film made a lot of profits at the box-office. Apart from making a lifetime collection of Rs. 12 crores from the domestic box-office, the film brought in around Rs. 8 crores from the international market and ended its run at the box-office with Rs. 20 crores in its kitty.
TRIVIA: Paan Singh Tomar was a seven-time national steeplechase champion in the 1950s and 1960s.
Its sequel might have not done that well in 2016, but when ‘Kahaani’ hit theaters in 2012 around Holi festivities, it performed amazingly and emerged as one of the most successful ventures of the year. Starring Vidya Balan in the lead role and Nawazuddin Siddiqui in the supporting role, the Sujoy Ghosh directorial was received extremely well by the critics and audiences. Though the suspense-thriller took off to a slow start at the box-office, with excellent word of mouth pouring in immediately after the first show, the film picked up remarkably and found takers everywhere from metros to small centers, leaving the cash registers jingling.
‘Kahaani’ served on the platter everything that a conventional Hindi film should not have. It had a pregnant protagonist in a completely deglamorized look. No one would had thought there would be a shrewd, revenge seeking woman, Vidya Bagchi, behind that calm and innocent visage. There was an acute lack of masala which typical Bollywood films are known to offer in oodles. Even in the absence of all these important ingredients, the film managed to pull viewers to theaters solely on the basis of its merit, intriguing story, taut direction, and outstanding performances.
Made on a shoestring budget of Rs. 8 crore, the film grossed over Rs 65.00 crore at the domestic box-office. The film was released across 1100 screens worldwide, and if we include its international income, the film globally grossed around Rs. 80.00 crores, which was huge considering its low budget. The overseas business of the film alone beat several bigger and more expensive films, including ‘The Dirty Picture’ starring the same actress as Kahaani, Vidya Balan.
TRIVIA: Nawazuddin Siddiqui, who struggled for 12 years in just small character roles, got a major breakthrough with this film. After the super success of ‘Kahaani’, he became one of the busiest actors.
8. THE LUNCHBOX
‘The Lunchbox’, starring Irrfan Khan, Nimrat Kaur and Nawazuddin Siddiqui in key roles, is one of those rare cinematic masterpieces of Hindi cinema which are not produced very often in Bollywood. A very niche in its nature, the film received favorable response from the critics as well as the viewers. The same was shown in the box-office numbers also. Despite releasing in around 400 screens all over India, the movie minted Rs. 1.25 crores on its opening day, something which the makers would have not thought even in their wildest dreams. After registering an impressive opening day collection, the film soared further on its second day and pulled in Rs. 2.6 crores at the box-office. The film had so far taken its total collections to Rs. 3.85 crores at the domestic box office. On its first Sunday, it became even stronger and made an income of Rs. 3.15 crores. The film continued to earn significant amount over the next few weeks also.
A simple and sweet love story which takes off with the mix-up of a lunchbox touched the right chord of the audience. It was one of those few films where the audience roots for the coming-together of the lead pair, despite knowing it well their destiny would not allow the same to happen. Backed by a strong story and outstanding performances, the film put up an excellent show at the ticket window throughout its run. An independent film directed by Ritesh Batra with its making cost shared by the producers of France and Germany and, of course, India surprised one and all. Made on a budget of mere Rs. 9 crores, the film earned over Rs. 100 crores worldwide. Woohoo! This was a figure which even many mainstream films boasting of the most salable stars cannot produce.
TRIVIA: ‘The Lunchbox’ was India’s official entry to the BAFTA Awards, 2015.
7. KHOSLA KA GHOSLA
They say good things come in small packages and ‘Khosla Ka Ghosla’, an extremely small budget film, just proved that without any pomp and show. Featuring Anupam Kher and Boman Irani in important characters, the comedy drama film marked the directorial debut of Dibakar Banerjee.
As has been a practice in India (or maybe everywhere around the world also), that producers put less money on stake if the helmer of the movie is a new director, the same happened with Dibakar also. He was given a meager amount to take his film on floors, with the hope of making a lot of moolah. Moreover, the script and the setting of the film were such that it did not really require to be shot at a big scale. A simple story of a middle class man whose plot is usurped by a corrupt and crooked man needed to be told simply but subtly. The captain of the ship, Dibakar Banerjee, did the same. He fine-tuned his script to the tee, chose the perfect cast and worked a lot on editing. And the final result of all this was a crisp and thoroughly entertaining film ”Khosla Ka Ghosla’, which went on to win the National Film Award for the Best Feature Film in Hindi.
The success of ‘Khosla Ka Ghosla’ proved it once again that you don’t need to have a big budget to make a successful film, what all you need to have is a good concept and confidence to create a beautiful film out of that concept. ‘Khosla Ka Ghosla’ was made on a shoestring budget of around Rs. 3.75 crores, and its low budget resulted in massive box office profits. The film earned over Rs. 7 crores at the domestic box-office and became a hit film which is now on its way to attain a cult status.
TRIVIA: The role of Mr. Khosla was first offered to Paresh Rawal, but when he declined it, the role finally went to Anupam Kher.
6. TANU WEDS MANU
Starring Kangana Ranaut, R. Madhvan and Jimmy Shergill in lead roles, ‘Tanu Weds Manu’ emerged as the second most successful film of 2011. In spite of the ongoing Cricket World Cup and student exams in most parts of the country, the Anand L. Rai directorial registered an impressive occupancy and went on to earn a lot of love from the viewers.
In its first week itself, ‘Tanu Weds Manu’ pulled in a whopping amount of 18.5 crores. Many thought it was just a fluke and the collections would dip in the weekdays, but nothing of that sort happened and the film kept soaring high and high at the box-office. After minting Rs. 18.5 crores in the first week, the film added Rs. 8 crores in the second week, taking its two week total to Rs. 27.25 crores. The film remained consistent in the third week also and pulled in another Rs. 5 crores. In its fourth week, ‘Tanu Weds Manu’ raked in Rs. 3.5 crores, taking its four week collections to Rs. 36 crores nett. Many had scoffed at the makers’ decision to release the movie during Cricket World Cup but the stupendous success of the film proved them all wrong as ‘Tanu Weds Manu’ took in over Rs. 56 crores at the domestic box-office on a Rs. 15 crores budget.
Another important factor that worked in the favor of the film was practically nil competition. No Hindi or English film was there in the arena against ‘Tanu Weds Manu’. So, it made most of this opportunity and continued earning well at the ticket window.
TRIVIA: R. Madhavan had also played one of the male leads in the critically acclaimed and commercially successful film ‘3 Idiots’ (2009). He used to miss that team so much that every night after the shoot of ‘Tanu Weds Manu’ would end they used to call each other.
Directed by Meghna Gulzar and written by the very prolific writer-director Vishal Bhardwaj, ‘Talvar’ was inspired by the true event of the 2008 Noida double murder case which shook the entire nation. Without taking any sides and being judgmental in her portrayal of events, the director presented all facts and minute details related to the case in an intriguing and engaging manner.
The film was released across 625 screens on 2nd October 2015. Initially, it took off to a slow start at the box-office, but as the excellent word of mouth publicity started setting in after a couple of shows, the audience came into action and queued up in front of the ticket counter to buy tickets for the movie. The film performed well in its first week at the box office, putting up a better show than the Akshay Kumar starrer ‘Singh Is Bling’ which had arrived in cinemas the previous week. After earning Rs. 0.50 crores from its paid previews, the film raked in Rs. 02.50 crores on its opening day. The first weekend earnings of the film stood at Rs. 9.50 crores. Continuing its outstanding performance in the weekdays also, the Irrfan Khan and Konkana Sen Sharma starrer pulled in Rs 15.55 crore in its first week.
After an excellent week at the box-office, the film remained steady in the second weekend also and collected a handsome amount of Rs. 5.05 crores, taking its total to a grand Rs. 22.55 crores. After its two week run, the film had made a nett collection of Rs. 26.00 crores. The Meghna Gulzar directorial had a better third weekend compared to ‘Jazbaa’, which starred Aishwarya Rai Bachchan as the female lead and was the comeback film of the actress. The winning streak of the film continued and ‘Talvar’ minted Rs 2.25 crore in its third weekend, whereas the Aishwarya Rai Bachchan starrer earned Rs 2.17 crore in its second weekend. In its three weeks run at box office, collection of ‘Talvar’ stood at Rs 29.33 crore which was phenomenal for a movie made on a shoestring budget.
TRIVIA: ‘Talvar’ was the second movie to be released in the same year based on the double murder case of Aarushi Talwar and Hemraj. The first one was ‘Rahasya’ starring Kay Kay Menon in January 2015.
This small budget film performed big at the box-office. The critically acclaimed movie started low but the strong word of mouth publicity helped it grow phenomenally in coming days. On its opening day, ‘Udaan’ could rake in mere Rs. 28 lakhs, despite receiving excellent reviews from almost all the critics. But it picked up really well on second and third day. Resultantly, the film minted Rs. 1.28 crores by the end of its first weekend run at the ticket window. Considering the budget and the target audience of the film, it was a good weekend collection, it not great.
‘Udaan’, which was produced by Anurag Kashyap in association with UTV Motion Pictures, had won a lot of acclaim at Cannes Film Festival in 2010. This helped the film in India a lot. Upon its release on home ground, the film went on to attract the audience from many corners, despite being an out-and-out niche film initially released in only 225 screens. Directed by Vikramaditya Motwane, ‘Udaan’ boasted of some amazing performances, especially by Rajat Barmecha and Ronit Roy. It could work and win hearts all over for its simplicity.
Made on a budget of Rs. 4.5 crores, the film did the business of only Rs. 4.21 crores in the Indian market. But if we also take into account the overseas earning of the movie, it was a plus affair for the makers. Neither did they lose much money, nor did they earn big moolah. In spite of its average performance, ‘Udaan’ made profit by selling its television rights. Since its release in 2010, the film has seen several TV repeats and is on the way to gain a cult status.
TRIVIA: Director Imtiaz Ali recommended the makers that the film be set in his hometown of Jamshedpur. The script had been initially written keeping Delhi in mind.
3. PHAS GAYE RE OBAMA
‘Phas Gaye Re Obama’, a satirically delicious comedy film directed by Subhash Kapoor, hit screens in 2010. The film garnered good reviews from critics and the audience too showered its love on the film amply. Eventually, the movie was declared a superhit.
The movie opened to lukewarm response on its first day, but in the following days, with the help of excellent word of mouth publicity, it tightened its grip at the ticket window and earned quite well. Made on a budget of Rs. 6 crores, the film went on to make insane profits for the makers by raking in a little over Rs. 19 crores at the domestic box-office in its lifetime run of three weeks. This was indeed a big feat for a small budget film which boasted of not so saleable stars like Rajat Kapoor, Neha Dhupia, Sanjay Mishra, Manu Rishi and Amole Gupte in the lead roles.
Besides it satirical comedy what worked in its favour was its catchy music and background score, which was composed by Manish. J. Tipu. Shellee and Gopal Tiwari penned the lyrics for the movie. Produced by Revel Films and distributed by Warner Bros Pictures, ‘Phas Gaye Re Obama’ is a favourite among the TV audience. The film has been aired on several TV channels several times since its release and it still manages to tickle the funny bones of the audience. After its blockbuster performance in Hindi, the film was remade in Telugu as ‘Shankaraabharanam’. Just like its Hindi version, the Telugu version of the film also garnered a lot of love from the audience and went on to earn massive profits for all the parties involved.
TRIVIA: The character of the politician played by Amol Gupte is drawn from D.P. Yadav and Shibu Soren and some of his actions remind one of Raja Bhaiyya.
2. PYAAR KA PUNCHNAMA
What is an ideal recipe to make a moneymaking movie? No one exactly knows what works on the ticket window, but yet our filmmakers keep pushing the envelope and experiment with new topics or, sometimes, deal with the same topic with a new perspective. At times the experiment does not yield any results, the other time it pays off well. The same happened when filmmaker Luv Ranjan took a different take modern-day relationships in his young, breezy film ‘Pyaar Ka Punchnama’.
Starring debutants like Kartik Aryan, Nushrat Bharucha, Divyendu Sharma, Ishita Sharma, Rayo Bakhirta and Sonalli Sehgall in leading roles, ‘Pyaar Ka Punchnama’ is one of those Bollywood romantic-comedies which no one can afford to miss. There are a number of factors that make this film a must watch for all young girls and boys out there. The 5-minute long monologue by Kartik Tiwari on ‘A happy woman is a myth’ is one of them. The monologue went viral in no time and is one of the most watched videos on YouTube. If you have not been in any relationship as yet and want to see what all modern relationships go through, you got to watch this movie.
Talking about the box-office journey of the film, the Luv Ranjan directorial opened to decent reviews, but since the film did not boast of any big stars, the audience kept itself away from the film for a few days. But once the excellent word of mouth publicity started pouring in, there was no stopping the film. With its widespread appeal to youngsters and adults alike, ‘Pyaar Ka Punchnama’ danced its way to the list of the most profitable film endeavors of 2010. Made with a budget of Rs 7 crore, the film recovered all its money and minted around Rs 17 crore at the box office in its lifetime run. It went on to win the most successful small budget film award at the ETC Bollywood Business awards 2010. It has been so many years since the release of the film, but it is still finding audience on TV.
TRIVIA: Kartik Aryan’s monologue is the longest single take scene for a Bollywood film.
1. DUM LAGA KE HAISHA
Directed by Sharat Katariya, Yash Raj Productions ‘Dum Laga Ke Haisha’ opened to good critical reception but even then the film witnessed a slow start upon its release on 27thFebruary, 2015. The film could pull in just Rs 1.10 crore on its opening day. Released in 775 screens, the movie registered only 5-7% occupancy on day one, which was disheartening for the makers. However, the audience steadily grew due to strong word of mouth coming from all corners and the film soared on Sunday, taking the total weekend collections to a whooping Rs 6.05 crores. Finally, braving competitions from some other releases, the film had managed to pass its box-office test with flying colors. Starring Ayushmman Khurrana and Bhumi Pednekar in lead roles, ‘Dum Laga Ke Haisha’ created ripples at the box office with its phenomenal collection in the following days also.
By the end of the first week run, the film minted Rs 10.75 crore from the domestic box-office, recovering its budget of Rs. 10 crores. It continued to earn substantially in the second weekend also and garnered around Rs. 7.50 crores. By the end of third week, the movie made Rs 5 crore. In the fourth weekend, it collected Rs 1.5 crores, taking its total earnings to around Rs 25.50 crore.
‘Dum Laga Ke Haisha’ ran for more than five weeks at the box-office and pulled in Rs. 30.50 crore from Indian markets. It created a record in its fifth weekend with the highest fifth weekend collections of 2015. The fifth weekend income of the movie rested at Rs 1.13 crore, which was superb. The content driven film with an endearing story and author backed characters emerged as one of the most successful as well as loved films of 2015.
TRIVIA: The script was written in 2007, almost eight years before the release.