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 a few hits with a few misses in the middle too. Now, with Bhediya, starring Varun Dhawan as a werewolf, up for release, it will become clear if filmmaker Amar Kaushik has succeeded in creating 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 the Rajkummar Rao-Shraddha Kapoor film was followed by Janhvi Kapoor-starrer Roohi. It came amid the pandemic and while its box office performance is underwhelming, producers have finished it satisfactory amid the circumstances. Immediately after Roohi’s release, Kaushik announced Bhediya, a tale spun around the folklore of a werewolf.
Film exhibitor Akshaye Rathi is confident about Bhediya’s performance, “People will come to the theaters because of the universe created by Amar Kaushik. This genre has a fan following because of what Stree did. Amar Kaushik’s style of storytelling will ride people to the theaters.”
Bhediya, which releases in the theaters on November 25, stars Kriti Sanon along with Abhishek Banerjee and Paalin Kabak. Besides the popularity of Amar Kaushik’s work (he also made Bala), Varun and Kriti’s popularity among the young audience will also lead to a bigger footfall in cinema halls.
Film producer and trade analyst Girish Johar pegged the film’s opening day collection 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 fan following, and they have been promoting the film all across the country. Music is also doing specifically good.”
He also shared that though the film’s advance booking doesn’t look promising, but Bhediya is a ‘youthful’ film that depends more on walk-in sales. Girish suggested, “Bhediya being a youthful film with a young target audience, it will mostly have a current window audience.”
Adding in the same tone, Akshaye Rathi said that a lot of youngsters will be watching Bhediya given Varun’s popularity in the age group. “Varun is quite popular among young kids, courtesy of movies like ABCD 2, and a couple of others like that. It is a universal movie in terms of its appeal and that will result in a great collection at the box office,” he opined.
Despite good awareness among the audience about Bhediya, there are chances of it facing stiff competition from Ajay Devgn’s Drishyam 2. The thriller has been doing exceptionally well in cinemas and has earned Rs 86.49 cr within five days of its release.
On being asked if the success of Drishyam 2 will affect the screen count of Bhediya, film trade expert Taran Adarsh said, “It might be true in a way, but Bhediya is also among the much-awaited films. So, cinema owners will do the balancing act for sure. It’s a big film coming from a big production house, with a big star cast. Also, the director (Amar Kaushik) has got a fantastic track record. I guess that is going to be kept in mind when they allot the shows. Also, it is a novel subject which should attract youth as well as a lot of people who like VFX stories.”
Akshaye Rathi and Girish Johar also agreed that there is “ample capacity for both films to survive at the same time”. Also, Akshaye revealed, “The distributor of Drishyam 2 is also the distributor of Bhediya, so optimal display of the films will be brought into the play all over the country.”
Lastly, the ticket pricing of the film will be a major factor in determining the box-office success of Bhediya. Girish Johar explained, “It is a critical factor if you do not want the audience to feel cheated. They want to watch good content at reasonable prices because the cinema-going experience is becoming an expensive affair.” The makers of Drishyam 2 had made a conscious effort in capping the ticket price of their film, which helped them in pulling more people to the theaters.
Now, if Bhediya will add another hit to Bollywood’s really short report card after Drishyam 2, remains to be seen.