When GOOD films bring BAD business
Showbiz is crazy unpredictable.
Every filmmaker aspires for glory and acclaim. But, at times, even their most accomplished work fails to set the cash registers ringing.
Unlike hyped films (think Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raja, Asoka, Tashan, Himmatwala), these are actually well-made and impress the critics. When it comes to selling tickets, however, they're complete washouts.
The recently released Bombay Talkies celebrated 100 Years of Hindi Cinema with a compilation of short films by four top filmmakers -- Karan Johar, Anurag Kashyap, Dibakar Banerjee and Zoya Akhtar.
Despite receiving rave reviews unanimously, Bombay Talkies is a box-office dud.
Here's a look at 10 other beloved Hindi films that made zero impact commercially.
Image: Rani Mukerji in Ajeeb Dastaan Hai Yeh, Bombay Talkies
Critics went gaga over Vishal Bhardwaj's masterful, star-studded adaptation of William Shakespeare's Othello.
But all the praise and presence of top stars like Ajay Devgn, Kareena Kapoor, Bipasha Basu, Konkona Sen Sharma and Saif Ali Khan in his career-best role could not bring the viewers in.
For starters, the strong language kept family audience at bay. Secondly, its heavy pricing made it impossible for distributors to recover costs.
Image: Ajay Devgn and Kareena Kapoor in Omkara
Easily one of Shah Rukh Khan's most lauded performances, Swades is a superlative follow-up to the Oscar-nominated Lagaan by director Ashutosh Gowariker.
The meaningful theme of urban-scale patriotism, however, didn't resonate with fans of King Khan's trademark flamboyance.
Trade pundits attributed its no show to length (195 minutes) and preachy content.
Image: Shah Rukh Khan in Swades
Andaz Apna Apna
The flop status of Andaz Apna Apna, Bollywood's most quoted and adored comedies in the last two decades, remains a baffling mystery.
So Rajkumar Santoshi's comic caper about two bumbling idiots, played by Aamir and Salman Khan, wooing a rich heiress (Raveena Tandon, Karisma Kapoor) with its low production values and delayed filming took a while to complete and was hardly marketed as a inviting proposition.
Eventually, AAA compensated for its lousy BO with unprecedented demand on the video circuit.
Image: Salman Khan, Aamir Khna, Raveena Tandon and Karisma Kapoor in Andaz Apna Apna
Yash Chopra's mature love story is complicated too.
In Lamhe, Anil Kapoor plays a young man who falls for a slightly older Sridevi, who is in love with someone else and then how her daughter, also Sridevi, falls for a much elder Kapoor 18 years later, forming the beautiful twist in the drama.
While everyone appreciated the elegant performances and classy narrative, Chopra's unusual romance was deemed much too futuristic and failed to find the audience it truly deserved.
Image: Anil Kapoor and Sridevi in Lamhe
When Mukul Anand roped in Amitabh Bachchan to do a desi Scarface, the superstar unleashed his charismatic intensity and a slightly altered baritone as Vijay Dinanath Chauhan to deliver a National-award winning performance.
For all its explosive dialogues and memorable scenes, Yash Johar's Agneepath didn't work.
Twenty two years later, his son Karan produced its remake, starring Hrithik Roshan, which went on to enter the coveted Rs100 crore club.
Image: Amitabh Bachchan in Agneepath
It's hard to imagine this super-entertaining reincarnation drama cum musical by Subhash Ghai was not just box-office turkey but torn apart by critics too.
While Ghai attributes its shock failure to being too ahead of its time and stiff competition from Feroz Khan's Qurbani, its remake by Satish Kaushik starring Himesh Reshammiya in Rishi Kapoor's role, understandably, didn't do well.
Image: Rishi Kapoor in Karz
Reshma Aur Shera
As producer, director and actor of this ambitiously scaled romance, Sunil Dutt invested a whole lot in Reshma Aur Shera featuring Waheeda Rehman, Amitabh Bachchan and Raakhee.
Even though its scenic photography and deft narrative around the subject of feuding clans made a stunning impact on critics in India and internationally, the sophisticated Reshma Aur Shera's absymal box office results left Dutt nearly bankrupt.
Image: Waheeda Rehman in Reshma Aur Shera
Mera Naam Joker
Raj Kapoor's labour of love is also experimental in nature.
With its nearly five hours running time, two intervals and a story that spans a lifetime, Mera Naam Joker is both absorbing and indulgent.
Keeping the audience glued to their seats for this long a duration, regardless of overwhelming storytelling, was never going to be an easy task.
Still, its massive failure hurt the legendary showman the most.
Image: Raj Kapoor in Mera Naam Joker
Vyajayanthimala literally immersed her heart and soul to inject life in the sensational danseuse in Lekh Tandon's Amrapali.
An opulent tale of romance, dance and patriotism, Amrapali has everything going in its favour from its radiant leading lady, her stirring classical dance and an electric chemistry with Sunil Dutt.
Alas, the heroine-oriented period drama didn't evoke any enthusiasm in viewers attracted to racier subjects.
Saddened by Amrapali's debacle, the star of Madhumati and Jewel Thief bid adieu to films.
Image: Vyjayanthimala in Amrapali
Kaagaz Ke Phool
Guru Dutt's heartfelt tale of a flouring filmmaker reduced to a life of anonymity ranks among Indian cinema's greatest creations.
And while we have so much to be proud about through this film, it's strange to explain why its sensitive contents went overlooked by the ticket-buying audience.
Perhaps Dutt's melancholy was too much to take for moviegoers who view films as a means of escapism resulting in a terribly poor turnout.
Luckily, the actor and filmmaker quickly bounced back with the decidedly more commercial and cheerful Chaudhvin Ka Chand.
Image: Waheeda Rehman and Guru Dutt in Kaagaz Ke Phool