The Atlantic

Bollywood's Terrible 2017

Why the industry sputtered this year, and what it means for its future.
Source: REUTERS/Hannah McKay

In December 2008, the romantic comedy Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, starring Shah Rukh Khan and Anushka Sharma, hit theaters across India. The film, which told the story of a middle-aged man who undergoes a personality makeover to win the love of his young wife, grossed over $25 million worldwide, making it one of that year’s biggest hits. A typically glossy, over-the-top Bollywood romance was just what the country needed in the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks, which had occurred just a few weeks earlier.

This past August, Khan and Sharma collaborated again on a romantic comedy called , about a young lawyer falling in love with her middle-aged European tour guide. Reviews were, it ranked as one of 2017’s biggest flops, netting a paltry $10 million worldwide by the end of its theatrical run. But it’s just one of a number of underperformers: Big films starring otherwise bankable stars like Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan, Ranbir Kapoor, and Shahid Kapur, have also tanked. “It would be a fallacy to assume this was just a bad year,” Siddharth Roy Kapur, a Bollywood film producer, told me. an ambitious adventure-musical he co-produced, received a smattering of encouraging reviews but is by far the biggest commercial disaster of 2017.

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