Box Office Report Card: The Big Surprises so far
Other than the obvious hits and misses, there are always films that surprise you. This kind emerges from nowhere, has little going for it yet it turns out to be the dark horse.
The first half of 2011 had numerous surprises in store for us and they surpassed our expectations by either doing great business or garnering critical acclaim. Or both.
In this last part of our series on the box office so far, here are sleeper hits that gradually grew on us.
Stanley Ka Dabba
Auteur Amole Gupte's directorial debut, Stanley Ka Dabba has an endearing quality and proved why cinema should be like this. While it lacked the technical finesse and Aamir Khan's star power of Taare Zameen Par, the film has its soul in place. It's a slow-burner and takes a re-viewing to settle down.
A throwback to the Iranian films -- most of which famously feature children as subjects -- Stanley Ka Dabba relies on young talent and was made on a bare-minimum. It's probably the closest mainstream Bollywood has got to the guerrilla style of filmmaking.
Granted the tax-free status, Stanley Ka Dabba even raked in good business; it made Rs 3.80 crore within its first week of release.
Read the review here.
Image: A still from Stanley Ka Dabba
Shor In The City
While the film had been making rounds of international film festival circuit, back home there was no buzz until it quietly opened in April. Gradually, through strong word-of-mouth and upbeat reviews (we strongly recommended it, granting it a four star rating), Shor in the City made quite some noise. It punched in Rs 3.85 crore only in four days.
Read the review here.
Image: A still from Shor In The City
Yeh Saali Zindagi
Sudhir Mishra's crime and political saga had been in the making for a while before it released in February. In this age of massive promotions, Yeh Saali Zindagi came with zero hype, unless of course you count the controversy over the swear word 'saali' in its title.
Despite its catchy title, Yeh Saali Zindagi didn't make immediate commercial inroads. On the other hand, Sudhir, ever the darling of the critics, managed to invite good press.
The black comedy starring Irrfan Khan, Arunoday Singh and Chitrangda Singh re-established Sudhir as a filmmaker of substance, though there are some who still doubt that.
Image: A still from Yeh Saali Zindagi
Socially concerned and gritty in its depiction of urban malaise, Onir's episodic I Am was made with intense passion -- and struggle. As Onir went about mobilising finance from the most unexpected quarters, social media came to his rescue. People from all walks of life helped fund I Am.
Right from day one, it was meant to be an art-house movie and it was generally agreed that it may not work its way at the box office.
However, I Am, backed by A-class performances and its bold subject matter -- covering a broad range of issues such as child abuse, homosexuality and sexual identity -- did surprising well commercially. As expected, it received rave reviews.
Image: A still from I Am
Pyaar Ka Punchnama
Devoid of any known name, this rom-com set entirely in Delhi and made by a debutant director came with zero expectations. It looked so much like Dil Chahta Hai and other male-bonding flicks that the naysayers had nearly written its epitaph even before it opened.
While it worked mostly in the big cities, Gen-X seemed to connect with its youthful vibe. While it's a film could have been definitely better, in the quality-parched times even that's saying a lot.
Image: A still from Pyaar Ka Punchnama
Okay, it's not exactly the best thriller in the history of cinema but Prawaal Raman's 404 managed to keep you hooked. 404 is a room number in a hostel in which the protagonist moves without realising it's haunted.
Proficiently shot, 404 captured the spooky environs of the medical campus in which the story plays out. In spite of a low-key cast and weak promotions, 404 unlocked your mind; staying true to what the posters screamed.
Image: A still from 404