It’s the season of sequels and this Friday will witness the third installment of Vidyut Jammwal starrer Commando. In 2019 alone, we have had sequel films like Housefull 4, Total Dhamaal and Student of the Year 2, while Mardaani 2 and Dabangg 3 are lined up for releases.
In the beginning of a new decade, we have Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan, Baaghi 3, Angrezi Medium, Sadak 2, Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 and Satyameva Jayate 2, ready to hit the theaters. Not to forget Dostana 2 and Hungama 2, the former has begun shooting while the latter was recently announced by director Priyadarshan.
Usually such films tend to work well at the box-office, case in point the most recent one, Housefull 4, which made a whopping 277 crores, despite receiving unfavorable reviews.
This practice has significantly seen a boost in the last three-four years with more and more sequels getting green-lit every time. While talking about the business prospects of Dabangg 3, Mardaani 2 and Commando 3, trade expert and film critic Joginder Tuteja wrote for Moneycontrol.com, “The targets for each of these films are already set and it has to be seen how it is eventually managed.”
Producer, Shobhu Yarlagadda, the producer of the successful Baahubali franchise, told Lata Jha of Mint about this trend: “Of course there are some definite advantages (of a sequel). There is a world established and there is a certain following for it.”
Shobhu mentioned that the production houses try to exploit this situation by playing safe as there is no risk of unfamiliarity among the audience. “If we were to make Baahubali 3 today, it would be quite smooth. With a new film, you have to establish everything from scratch. Here, a lot of the audience is already tuned in, has watched and possibly liked the first part.”
Film critic Baradwaj Rangan commented at the same interview that such a scenario is not good for content-driven films. “Movies are bombing left, right and centre and the audience footfalls are decreasing like crazy. So how do we bring people to theaters?”
He elaborated that this encourages the tent-pole and masala films as per the viewer’s preference. “90% of the audience wants guaranteed entertainment and a sequel promises just that. And if you combine it with a big star and a big holiday, it really hits the roof and there’s nothing you can do about it. The quality of the film is almost irrelevant,” he said.
However, just making a sequel is not a sure short way to achieve strong box office numbers, as films like 1921, Student of the Year 2, Hate Story 4, Race 3, Saheb, Biwi Aur Gangster 3, Happy Phirr Bhag Jayegi and Yamla Pagla Deewana: Phir Se, have failed to impress the moviegoers despite having some bankable names attached to them.
Mrigadeep Singh Lamba, the director of Fukrey and Fukrey Returns, feels that times have changed now and only good content works for the audience. He told Mint, “The film will open well at the most. But unless it’s really good, because of social media, you’ll see a drop Saturday onwards. And people will not take it lightly, the backlash will be that much worse”.
Most of these sequel films don’t have anything to do with their predecessor’s story and just borrow the name to play safe. Therefore, it is high time the filmmakers introspect if banking on the name of the previous film is what this creative art form needs or creating something original and taking a risk. In the last few years, the audiences taste have clearly changed and the filmmakers out there, need to embrace that and experiment with their storytelling.