The horror genre when merged with comedy has worked well for Hindi cinema in the recent past. Starting with Stree in 2018 to Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 in 2022, the genre has given us some hits with some misses in between as well. Now, with Bhediya, starring Varun Dhawan as a werewolf, set to be released, it will become clear if filmmaker Amar Kaushik has managed to create a successful horror cinematic universe.
Amar Kaushik’s Stree did a business of approximately Rs 167 crore in the domestic market. The critical and box office success of Rajkummar Rao-Shraddha Kapoor’s film was followed by Roohi, starring Janhvi Kapoor. It arrived in the midst of the pandemic and, although its box office performance is disappointing, the producers have called it satisfactory under the circumstances. Immediately after the release of Roohi, Kaushik announced Bhediya, a story revolving around the folklore of a werewolf.
Film exhibitor Akshaye Rathi is confident in Bhediya’s performance: “People will come to theaters for the universe created by Amar Kaushik. This genre has a following because of what Stree did. Amar Kaushik’s storytelling style will take people to theaters.”
Bhediya, which opens in theaters on November 25, stars Kriti Sanon along with Abhishek Banerjee and Paalin Kabak. In addition to the popularity of Amar Kaushik’s work (he also did Bala), the popularity of Varun and Kriti among young audiences will also lead to more crowds in movie theaters.
Film producer and business analyst Girish Johar pegged the film’s opening day take in the range of Rs 9-10 crore. Suggesting that Bhediya has a good chance of doing well at the ticket counters, he said: “Bhediya is a commercial film and it has action and adventure. Both Varun and Kriti have a following and have been promoting the film across the country. Music is also doing well specifically.”
He also shared that although the advance booking of the film does not look promising, Bhediya is a “youth” film that relies more on walk-in sales. Girish suggested, “Bhediya is a youth film with a young target audience, it will mostly have a current window audience.”
Adding in the same tone, Akshaye Rathi said that many youngsters will watch Bhediya given Varun’s popularity in the age group. “Varun is quite popular with young children, thanks to movies like ABCD 2 and a couple of others like it. It is a universal film in terms of its appeal and that will result in a great box office collection ”, he opined.
Despite the good conscience among the audience about Bhediya, there are chances that he will face stiff competition from Ajay Devgn’s Drishyam 2. the thriller has been doing exceptionally well in theaters and earned Rs 86.49 cr within five days of its release.
Asked if the success of Drishyam 2 will affect Bhediya’s screen count, film trade expert Taran Adarsh said: “It may be true in a way, but Bhediya is also among the most anticipated films. Therefore, theater owners will do the balancing act for sure. It’s a great movie that comes from a great production company, with a great cast of stars. Also, the director (Amar Kaushik) has a fantastic track record. I guess that will be taken into account when he assigns the shows. Plus, it’s a hot topic that should appeal to young people, as well as a lot of people who like VFX stories.”
Akshaye Rathi and Girish Johar also agreed that there is “ample potential for both films to survive at the same time.” Further, Akshaye revealed, “The distributor of Drishyam 2 is also the distributor of Bhediya, so optimal viewing of the films will be brought across the country.”
Lastly, the movie’s ticket price will be a major factor in determining Bhediya’s box office success. Girish Johar explained: “It’s a critical factor if you don’t want the audience to feel cheated. They want to see good content at reasonable prices because the movie-going experience is getting expensive.” The makers of Drishyam 2 made a conscious effort to cap the ticket price of their film, which helped them attract more people to theaters.
Now whether or not Bhediya will add another hit to Bollywood’s really short report card after Drishyam 2 remains to be seen.