The ‘All Time Blockbuster’ is a much misused and abused term within Bollywood trade. The term was coined to describe those rare few occasions when a movie generates business at a much higher level than previously generated. By that definition, the list of the true-blue ‘All Time Blockbusters’ is quite exclusive:
1957 – Mother India (4 cr)
1960 – Mughal-E-Azam (5.5 cr)
1975 – Sholay (15 cr)
1994 – Hum Aap Ke Hain Koun (70 cr)
2009 – 3 Idiots (200 cr)
However, every time a movie manages to reach the business level generated by the previous ‘All Time Blockbuster’, we witness partisan claims that try to over-hype it by touting it as the next one in the list.
It was the case when movies like Maine Pyar Kiya (1989) and Aankhen (1993) managed to do 14 cr nett domestic business after 14 years and 18 years respectively since Sholay made 15 cr in the domestic market.
The same was true with movies like Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge (61 cr), Raja Hindustaani (48 cr) or Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (45 cr) – none of which were even marginally close to the mammoth 70 cr business generated by Hum Aap Ke Hain Koun. When Gadar managed to finally go past that milestone and made 75 cr total after 7 years in 2001, it was again pompously promoted as another ‘All Time Blockbuster’.
Most of the high grossing films of recent times – Krrish, Dhoom 2, Om Shanti Om, Ghajini or Dabangg, hardly had the collections to justify such claims. Same holds true for Ek Tha Tiger (199 cr) or Chennai Express (218 cr till date), which managed to come close or finally go past 3 Idiots’ 202 cr after 3-4 years.
Even if Krrish 3 and Dhoom 3 manages to deliver as per their high expectations and collect 300 cr each – it will not suffice for either to be termed as ‘All Time Blockbuster’. In today’s money, a film will need to go north of 400 cr domestic nett to justify that tag.
That is not an easy task, and Chennai Express is just half way there.