Punjabi, as a language, has achieved exposure on the national forum through representation in mainstream Hindi cinema and popularity of Punjabi music across India. However, when it comes to Punjabi films, they come and go but people remain unaware. Soon, this will be a thing of the past as more and more Punjabi films are making a mark in the industry.
A recent example of this is Qismat, which is raking in strong collections. In four days of its release, it has minted over Rs 6 crore. Qismat has emerged as a major grosser amid Punjabi films. Offerings from this section aim to do a business of Rs 1 crore or more to be tagged major grosser.
The Punjabi film segment witnessed growth in 2017 and saw a number of successful films. The year had films on diverse topics and a wide variety of genres. Amrinder Gill’s Sarvann was an action-packed thriller, while Vekh Barataan Challiyan was a typical Punjabi comedy.
The biggest hit and one of the best Punjabi films of 2017 was Gippy Grewal’s Manje Bistre. The film collected a staggering Rs 15 crore net at the box office in India. Its worldwide business went up to Rs 45 crore-plus. This is a huge figure for Punjabi films as it is difficult for most of them to cross Rs 10 crore.
Vekh Barataan was another box office hit in 2017. It managed to make Rs 1 crore in the domestic market and around Rs 24 crore overseas.
In 2016 too, Punjabi movies performed well at the box office. Greater number of movies gained acceptance even outside the main market of Punjabi-speaking audience. The year saw as many as 12 big releases and many of them were made at a budget of Rs 2-3 crore.
Punjabi films were once written off the big screens, but the tables have now turned. New ventures are carving a niche in the hearts of the audiences, both at home and abroad.
The Punjabi film industry has grown at a CAGR of 50 percent between 2010 and 2015, according to a 2017 Deliotte report titled ‘Film Industry in North India: Reaching New Heights’. Chaar Sahibzaade, a 3D animation historical drama with VFX and computer-generated Imagery (CGI), grossed more than Rs 70 crore in 2014.
The industry has grown on a low revenue base of Rs 21 crore to reach Rs 172 crore between 2010 and 2015. Going forward, due to a higher base, this growth is expected to moderate. However, a higher number of releases and blockbusters with individual collections of more than Rs 10 crore and increasing interest from national and international production houses will drive growth of the Punjab film industry, the report added.
The Punjabi film industry has also witnessed an increase in the number of films crossing Rs 10 crore in box office collections during this period.
While Punjabi films have started receiving recognition in India, they are a rage in the Australian market. The 2016 release ‘Love Punjab’ minted Rs 2.95 crore ($406,601) at the Australian box office. The film broke box office records of its predecessors. Love Punjab also overshadowed the opening week collections of big-banner Bollywood movies ‘Airlift’ and ‘Bajirao Mastani’.
One major factor that works in favour of Punjabi films in Australia is growing Punjabi migrant community in the country.
In addition, big production houses are in the race to produce and distribute Punjabi films. This has given a financial lease of life to filmmakers.