Herald: BUDGET BLACK HOLES

BUDGET BLACK HOLES

16 Feb 2019 05:37am IST

Report by
Dibyojyoti Baksi

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16 Feb 2019 05:37am IST

Report by
Dibyojyoti Baksi

 

 

A Wednesday in November 2010,

on the releasing week of his debut production ‘Break Ke Baad’, starring Imran Khan and Deepika Padukone, Kunal Kohli commented on the cut-throat apprehension on the box-office return of the supposed out-of-the-box love story he made in around Rs 16 crore, saying, “Today, if you have made a film in Rs 15-16 crore, you are already sitting on a profit. If you spend around Rs 5 crore in publicity and total expenditure is say Rs 20 crore, you recover around Rs 19 crore from television, so you are already sitting on profit. So, I think that’s the correct economics that we have managed to work out for the film.” So, the fate of a film doesn’t undercut the profit of a producer, at large.

In the past eight years, the projected budget of a film is eight times and the returns are at least triple the cost for a successful film. But, the economics of the film making over the years has changed drastically. Though to any layman’s disbelief, it has become considerably cheap, owing to expansion of market, competition, availability of means and multitude of deals.

If you disintegrate down, to your awe, the shoot expense (all inclusive) doesn’t go beyond Rs 2.5 lakh per day, if the film is shot in Mumbai. Even if in papers it’s Rs 5 lakh a day and the whole film is shot in 50 days then also the cost of the shoot cannot be above Rs 2.5 crore. Another Rs 1.5 crore is spent on music, so films like ‘Badhaai Ho’ (budget Rs 29 core), ‘Andhadhun’ (budget Rs 32 crore), ‘Stree’ (budget 24 crore) cannot cost beyond Rs 5 core. The industry has forged its own ranges of marketing and publicity with definite parameters according to the money one wishes to shell out. A-range means publicity budget above Rs 50 crore, B-range above Rs 35 crore, Rs 10 crore to Rs 12 crore of publicity cost come under C-range and anything below Rs 10 crore is D-range. Either of the ranges settle with an incongruity in the cost of the end product.

There is another catch. If a film is set in UP, like ‘Badhaai Ho’, and is shot at its backdrop, the state has a money back policy. Say, if it’s a Rs 100crore (shown) budget film and shot in UP, the state gives Rs 40 crore to the makers after the release of the film. Locations, security were anyways free during the shoot.

Again, for a big-budget turkey as Shah Rukh Khan produced and starred ‘Zero’, the production budget was said to have run in the excess of Rs 200 crore, where Rs 100 crore went into VFX. Rs 100 crore in VFX? How? Shah Rukh Khan’s production Red Chillies Entertainment has its own VFX studio.

For example, if it’s a 180-minute (10,800 seconds) film with 60 minutes of VFX in it, it means it has 3600 seconds of VFX. Earlier, when the film used to be shot in reels, there used to be 16 snaps in one second. Now, in digital age, we get 28 snaps in a second. So that means in a 180-minute film, we see (10,800x28) 3,02,400 snaps in motion. When ‘Mother India’ was released in colour, all these 3,02,400 snaps were converted into colour to turn into a coloured film. Transforming each snap into VFX doesn’t cost more than Rs 2000, if done by a hired VFX artist. So, if a whole film (of 3,02400 snaps) is done VFX , then also it cannot cost the makers more than Rs 60 crore.

‘Zero’ was a 2-hour (120 minute) film and whole of it was not VFX. SRK’s production company Red Chillies Production has its own VFX studio so it was done by his salaried staff. If only the salaries are paid and may be few perks, the expense in VFX shouldn’t amount more than Rs 20 crore if not much less, so no one has seen the rest Rs 80 crore claimed as VFX cost of his budget.

In the filmmaking business, it’s all about how the money ball duck the holes!

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