NEW DELHI — In India, as in most other countries, sex sells. Then again so does romance — and the ongoing now-war, now-peace relations between arch-rivals India and Pakistan.
The three genres dominated Bollywood, India’s prolific Hindi-lingo film industry, in the first six months of 2004, according to half-yearly box office figures.
Anurag Basu’s steamy sex thriller, “Murder,” which told the story of an adulterous wife — taboo territory in India — top-earned with profits of 120 million rupees ($2.6 million).
Actress Mallika Sherawat has unexpectedly become a cult figure in the conservative country with her brazen portrayal of a woman who cheats on her husband purely to fulfill her sexual desires.
Film trade analyst Amod Mehra says a movie like “Murder” could make good profits because its budget was a lot lower than war and cop flicks.
“Hum tum” (Me and You), a light urban comedy about the romantic adventures of a cartoonist, turned up the next highest profits of $1.7 million.
This was closely followed by “Main hoon na” (I Am There) Bollywood heartthrob Shah Rukh Khan’s role as a commando out to save the India-Pakistan peace process.
The figures showed that of the 40 Bollywood releases until June, only eight did good to average business, four of which revolved around the sexual emancipation of women.
They include “Girlfriend,” portraying a lesbian relationship — slammed by critics and gay groups for its stereotypical portrayal of same-sex relationships — “Hawas” (Lust) and “Masti” (Fun), Bollywood’s first sex comedy.
The only police drama which did well was “Ab tak chhappan,” (Till Now, 56 Kills), about a Mumbai policeman who specializes in gunning down mobsters.
Despite great expectations from the May-June summer months, when audiences traditionally flock to theaters to escape the searing heat, no film did well this time round.
Even superstar Amitabh Bachchan’s two summer offerings, “Deewar” (The Wall) and “Dev” (God), did only average business.
“I put in lot of effort and energy. And when the film fails obviously it hurts,” he told reporters after “Dev” flopped.