Kabir Khan’s 83 is one of the rare films to get such high number of glowing reviews from critics. Not just that, the Ranveer Singh-starrer cricket drama has also received equal praise from the audience. The film transformed a cinema hall into a stadium through its overwhelming recreation of India’s 1983 World Cup triumph.
However, this hasn’t been enough to translate into box office success for the film. In fact, to put it simply, 83 has been a box office failure. The film is made at a budget around Rs 200 crore (one senior journalist even claimed it to be Rs 270 crore) and right now it’s struggling to even reach Rs 100 crore.
So, talking purely in terms of business, 83 is nothing but a failure. I know a lot of people who loved the film are hurt by this. I can completely understand because I too am such a big fan of the film that I have seen it twice already in theatres and I am willing to watch it again. But, as said before, this is purely in terms of business.
With so many people left disappointed and disheartened by 83’s result at the box office, it is obvious that this has become a hot topic of discussion and debates online. I have been constantly reading some silly reasons being dished out on social media for the film not working out. And, unfortunately, such reasons are also being heard from few people who are from film journalism itself.
Here’s what has been attributed to 83’s downfall at the box office on social media:
People are staying away from theatres because of the rise in COVID-19 cases and the new threat of its Omicron variant
While there is no doubt that the fear of COVID-19 has resurfaced, this cannot be the reason why 83 didn’t get as much audience. The biggest proof of this is the stupendous box office performance of the Hindi version of the Telugu film Pushpa. The movie released on 17 December 2021, a week before 83, and is still doing well even as I am writing this on 8 January 2022.
The same is the case for Spider-Man: No Way Home which released in the same week as Pushpa. If people are not visiting theatres to watch 83, how are these two films still getting audience? In fact, a lot of shows given to 83 earlier are now given to Pushpa since the film is continuing to attract moviegoers.
People are now used to watching content on OTT platforms and hence don’t feel like visiting theatres
The answer to this point can be found in the previous one. OTT has definitely found a great booster in the pandemic. But that doesn’t mean people are not willing to go to theatres. Again, if that was the reason, Pushpa and Spider-Man wouldn’t have done such enormous business. Not to forget, Sooryavanshi too did very well in theatres when it was released during Diwali.
The film didn’t do well because of the #BoycottBollywood gang
The silliest of all reasons by a mile! There has been a rise of a #BoycottBollywood gang on social media in recent times and they are of two types. One are the members of the audience that are die-hard fans of the late Sushant Singh Rajput. They claim to boycott all big Hindi films until ‘justice’ is done to SSR. But if they are really the reason for the film’s failure, the same film wouldn’t have done do well in metros like Mumbai and Delhi. And as pointed before, Sooryavanshi too wouldn’t have become a hit.
These ‘warriors’ are also specifically against films starring star kids. But then, Tadap (2021), the launch of Suniel Shetty’s son Ahan Shetty, did decent business despite of him not being a star.
There’s another bunch of this gang which has vowed to boycott all films starring Deepika Padukone because she stood with the JNU protestors in 2019. The fact that the film did well in the metros, as stated before, nullifies this claim too.
Reason for 83’s box office failure
There is a wide gap in the content preferences between the urban and non-urban sections of India. The box office result of 83 has just exposed this wide gap. The content of 83 has more appeal for the urban audience than the one based in small towns and villages. This might sound weird to many but masses of these regions won’t get excited to know the journey of a team winning a World Cup.
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This was also confirmed recently when I had a chat with the most experienced exhibitor in Gujarat, Rashmikant Bhalodia. When the film was going house full in advance in Mumbai, the theatres in Gujarat, especially the interiors, were going empty.
Also the film’s promotions didn’t reach the interiors of India. The promotions mainly consisted of the team travelling in big cities. There was an article mentioning how people in a village-like area didn’t even know that a film called 83 had released!
The wide gap between the both section of the audiences is also visible in the consumption of OTT shows. While we may love edgy or dark shows on Netflix or Amazon Prime Video, such content is hardly seen in the semi-urban areas or villages. They still prefer south Indian action films dubbed in Hindi.
And they had that choice this time in the form of Pushpa. The film had every masala that the masses of these regions prefer. So it’s obvious that they would prefer this over 83. In fact, Pushpa earned more in its recently concluded third week than the previous one. This has also ensured that its shows have increased.
The fate of 83 is very similar to that of Swades (2004). The Ashutosh Gowariker film failed at the box office but it continues to be hailed as a great film. The same will happen with 83.