RE­FUND FOR FLOPS: IS IT A GOOD THING?

A-list Bol­ly­wood stars com­pen­sate dis­trib­u­tors if their home pro­duc­tion fails. An­a­lysts tell us why

HT City - - Front Page - Monika Rawal Kukreja monika.rawal@htlive.com

With A-list ac­tors such as Shah Rukh Khan (left), Sal­man Khan (above right), Ajay Devgn, Hrithik Roshan, Ak­shay Ku­mar, and Ran­bir Kapoor (right) turn­ing pro­duc­ers, the trend of com­pen­sat­ing dis­trib­u­tors for a flop is also gain­ing ground.

When Sal­man’s Eid re­lease Tube­light blinked out, he re­port­edly re­funded `55 crore to the dis­trib­u­tors. In Au­gust, when Shah Rukh Kha’s Jab Harry Met Se­jal bombed, dis­trib­u­tors took their cue from Sal­man and de­manded that SRK re­fund their money. Though no con­fir­ma­tion came from the ac­tor’s side on this, Shah Rukh had given back 50% of the money to the dis­trib­u­tors of his 2015 movie Dil­wale, which also tanked.

If a film flops, how does an ac­tor-pro­ducer re­fund dis­trib­u­tors with­out burn­ing a hole in his — or her — own pocket? Trade an­a­lyst Atul Mo­han ex­plains, “Pro­duc­ers earn from satel­lite rights. The movies are ex­clu­sively sold to lead­ing chan­nels. So, they get the money value in ad­vance, from `400 crore to `1,000 crore. Now, even dig­i­tal rights have come into the pic­ture, with big play­ers like Ama­zon and Net­flix en­ter­ing the game, of­fer­ing the same kind of money as satel­lite chan­nels... So [pro­duc­ers] are in a po­si­tion to bear the loss.”

Ran­bir Kapoor, whose pro­duc­tion Jagga Ja­soos was one of the high-pro­file flops of the year, said in an ear­lier in­ter­view, “If some­one loses money on some­thing and you have made money out of it, it’s good to com­pen­sate.”

It’s not a new prac­tice. Sub­hash Ghai com­pen­sated dis­trib­u­tors when his 1995 film Trimurti flopped; this en­sured he had enough buy­ers for his next films, Pardes (1997) and Taal (1999). Raj Kapoor’s big­bud­get 1970 film Mera Naam Joker in­curred huge losses, and he gave dis­trib­u­tors a big­ger cut when his next film, Bobby (1973), re­leased.

Ac­cord­ing to Mo­han, this trend is a “good­will ges­ture” from the ac­tors to se­cure their po­si­tion­ing. Film­maker R. Balki agrees, say­ing, “It’s a great ges­ture and will help form strong re­la­tion­ships.”

How­ever, film critic Omar Qureshi be­lieves that un­less dis­trib­u­tors look at con­tent as much as star power, this will re­main a “high-risk lowre­ward busi­ness”.

PHOTO: SHIVAM SAX­ENA/HT

PHOTO: SUJIT JAISWAL/AFP

HT PHOTO

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