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Bollywood Sequels - Cash Grab or Creative Revival?

Have you noticed a familiar feeling creeping into your Bollywood movie choices lately? Sequels seem to be popping up everywhere, from the chilling return of the witch in Stree 2 to the highly anticipated second coming of Singham in Singham Again. But what's the real reason behind this sequel explosion? Is it pure profit motive, or is there a deeper strategy at play?

Numbers Don't Lie: The Financial Power of Sequels

Let's face it, sequels are a safer bet financially. Studios are more likely to back a project with a proven track record. Take KGF: Chapter 2, the follow-up to the 2018 hit  KGF: Chapter 1. This sequel became a pan-India sensation, breaking records and grossing over a whopping ₹1,200 crore worldwide!  Drishyam 2, the sequel to the 2015 thriller  Drishyam, is another example. It garnered critical acclaim and strong box office returns. This trend is reflected in data too. According to Ormax Media, franchise films accounted for 17% of the Indian box office in 2019, but by 2023, this figure had risen to a significant 45%.

The Comfort of Knowing (and Box Office Gold):

Industry experts point to the comfort factor sequels offer. By revisiting established characters and worlds, filmmakers tap into a built-in audience who already loved the first part. Director Amar Kaushik, gearing up for Stree 2, says audiences feel a sense of ownership over these stories. They expect a sequel to deliver the same entertainment value – a kind of cinematic "paisa vasool" (money's worth).

While some might argue this trend reflects a lack of fresh ideas, trade experts like Taran Adarsh disagree. Films like Pathaan and Jawaan have proven that audiences still crave originality. 

The Secret Sauce of Sequel Success

So, what's the magic formula for a successful sequel? There isn't one, says Kaushik. The key lies in having a compelling story left to tell and staying true to the spirit of the original film and its characters. For example, Gadar 2, which hits theatres 22 years after the first part, needs to retain the essence that made the original a hit, according to director Anil Sharma.

The pre-pandemic success of sequels like Pyaar Ka Punchnama 2 (2015) with a box office collection of over ₹119 crore and the post-pandemic dominance of KGF: Chapter 2 solidify their box office appeal. The upcoming slate overflowing with sequels like Pushpa 2: The Rule (following the massive success of  Pushpa: The Rise which grossed over ₹365 crore worldwide) and the comedy franchise Hera Pheri 3 (with the first two parts earning over ₹195 crore combined) only confirms this trend. As Taran Adarsh puts it, "Sequels are a great idea, and this trend is only going to continue."

The Verdict - Cash Grab or Creative Revival?

The answer, perhaps, lies somewhere in between. Sequels offer a familiar world to revisit, but the true test lies in the creativity with which filmmakers build upon the existing story. Here's hoping the upcoming sequels not only rake in the moolah but also rekindle the magic that made us fall in love with the originals in the first place.

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