One of the big budget films postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic is Sooryavanshi, directed by Rohit Shetty. The film, which was supposed to be one of the biggest releases of 2020, was held back until the theatres reopened. Despite a year-long delay, the makers did not rush to release the film this year because audience turnout is still uncertain.
A Rohit Shetty film is expected to draw in huge crowds and big money at the box office, and that’s an opportunity neither the makers nor the exhibitioners would like to throw away. His last release, Simmba in December 2018, raked in over Rs 20 crore on the opening day. There were higher expectations from Sooryavanshi, starring Akshay Kumar and Katrina Kaif, with other cops from Rohit Shetty’s universe – Ajay Devgn and Ranveer Singh – making cameos.
For years, Shetty’s films have been benefitting the Hindi film industry by raking in the moolah with every release. His franchises Golmaal and cop universe, as well as Chennai Express (2013) and Dilwale (2015) have sealed his spot as one of the most commercially successful directors in Bollywood.
Shetty debuted as an independent director in 2003 with Ajay Devgn-starrer Zameen, an average grosser, before he rose to fame in 2006 when he directed the first part of Devgn’s comedy series Golmaal that became his first hit. The third part of Golmaal that opened theatrically in 2010 ended up as Shetty’s first and a surprising blockbuster that made it to the 100 crore club. The film’s total net gross is Rs 108 crore, according to Box Office India.
Continuing his collaborations with Devgn, Shetty began his cop universe in 2011 through his action film Singham. The film nearly made it to the 100-crore club, earning Rs 98 crore in India. The film’s sequel managed to achieve that feat, with a total nett gross of Rs 140 crore. Chennai Express (total net gross Rs 207 crore) and Simmba (total nett gross Rs 239 crore) feature in top 20 on the list of highest grossing films in India.
Chennai Express set a number of box office records, for the highest opening-day gross, highest paid preview, highest single-day gross, biggest opening weekend, highest opening week and the fastest film to reach Rs 100 crore in the domestic market. Shetty’s 2015 release Dilwale, despite receiving mostly negative reviews, earned a total nett gross of Rs 139 crore in India.
Shetty’s films are modeled on the action films of the ’70s and ’80, which were replaced by romantic movies and musicals in the ’90s and early 2000s. The films are high on the entertainment quotient with lots of action and comedy packed in. He builds a story around a lovable male protagonist, who then fights several odds and various goons to right wrongs. Be it the exaggerated cops in Singham and Simmba, or the almost pitiful common man Shah Rukh Khan in Chennai Express, Shetty’s leading men are always memorable. He adds in dollops of drama and emotion, stuff Bollywood is known for, and the audience laps it up.
Shetty seems to know his audience really well. Without pretending to be an ‘intellectual’ filmmaker, he is focused on providing wholesome entertainment that every section of the audience enjoys, be it urban or rural. He serves everything that a single screen audience would love, and the box office numbers prove that a huge chunk of multiplex-going audiences love his films too. It’s almost like he has hit upon a hit formula and nothing can stop his films from breaking records at the box office.
Alongside filmmaking, the director has also kept in touch with the audience by appearing in various reality shows. Starting with the judge’s panel on Comedy Circus, Shetty has hosted several seasons of Fear Factor: Khatron Ke Khiladi. His love for cars and action is well-known, and his brawn only helps propagate the ‘tough guy who makes action films’ image. Rohit Shetty is that package which guarantees entertainment, assuring value for the money his fans spend at the ticket counter. And as long as that faith in his films continue, Shetty will continue to be the blockbuster machine of Bollywood.