BOX OFFICE, Indian Foreign Policy and Pakistan

  • What does term Box Office Collections mean? How does Bollywood portray Pakistan? Should Indian Films be in sync with India’s foreign policy on China and Pakistan? 

Listening to Hindi songs of the 1960-1970’s gives me so much happiness for which I am grateful to the lyrists, music directors and producers. I have seen classics like Guide, Waqt, An Evening in Paris, Khamoshi, Hum Dono, Aradhna, Anand, Padosan and Mera Naam Joker, at least six times. 

Unlike today, then lyrics and box office collections had a meaning. Movies ran for 25-50 weeks and when they were declared Hits, we knew they were actually hits.

In today’s multiplex era the movie Pathaan was declared a Hit in week one. Some said box office collections touched Rs 700 crores, others said Rs 160 crores. What does the term Box Office mean? 

Pathaan is about an ex ISI (Inter Services Intelligence) and RAW (Research and Analysis Wing) agent who join hands to thwart the attempts of an ex Indian RAW agent’s plan to spread a virus in Delhi. Like an earlier movie, this one shows ISI and RAW working together. This is impossible after the bloodshed Pakistan has caused in India since 1947. How can we forget the 1999 Kandhar Hijack, 1993 Mumbai Blasts, 2001 Parliament attack, 2002 Godhra burnings or 26/11/08 Mumbai not to forget terrorist attacks across India? 

Also read What stops me from Loving Pakistan + How many Indians died in the Kashmiri Terrorist Movement + List of Terrorist Attacks in India

While one cannot change the geographical location of our neighbours, these Aaman ki Asha movies baffle me. Are they not contrary to India’s foreign policy? 

This article covers meaning of the phrase Box Office Collection. When is a movie a hit? Can collections be inflated or deflated? How does Bollywood portray Pakistan? Should Indian Films be in sync with India’s foreign policy on China and Pakistan? 

1. What does term Box Office Collections (BOC) mean?

The commercial terms between film producers, distributors and exhibitors vary from movie to movie.  Sometimes a producer sells rights for a lump sum or minimum guarantee plus profit share or purely on a  commission basis. The table gives average numbers (prepared after speaking to sources in Bollywood) and explains in a simple way. Focus on the concept.  

Table 1 – What is Box Office?

India Collections



1. Gross Collections are Ticket counter sales



2. Less GST average



3. Net Collections



4. Exhibitor Share avg 54% of C



5. So producer share



6. If appointed, distributor share is 5-10% of producer share E



6. Producer share E- F



7. Marketing and PR costs



Note that the exhibitor share varies from week to week. If a movie runs longer, the share goes up. Typically, it is 50:50 in week 1, 55:45 in week 2 in favour of exhibitor, 62.5:37.5 in week 3 and fourth week onwards 70:30.

So when media says BOC Rs 115 crores, the producer gets about Rs 43 crores (37.4%). A producer also incurs marketing and printing costs. The extent of cost incurred depends on arrangement with the distributor (who funds movie and is usually appointed for a territory).

Proceeds from sale of satellite television telecast or OTT rights, songs royalty etc go to the producer. 

Table 2 – Outside India Collections 



1.Gross =Ticket Sales



2. Less Taxes say



3. Net Collections



4. Producer share



5. D is split equally



6. Producer share



If based on Minimum Guarantee, share would vary


5. Exhibitor, Marketing costs



When a producer has its own overseas offices for e.g. Yash Raj Films has offices in U.K. USA and UAE the above table will not apply.

Key points - The risk of failure of a movie lies with the producer. There is no industry body that declares box office collections although there are bodies like Producers Guild of India and IMPPA

2. When is a movie a Hit?

As a qualified accountant I can say that a movie is a hit when income substantially exceeds costs.

Income includes net collections from domestic and overseas markets and sale of rights e.g. television/ music rights. Cost would include all costs associated with movie i.e. production and marketing.

So saying a movie has BOC of Rs 300 cr or has entered the Rs 100 cr club means little. The question to ask is, how much profit has the movie made?  

Sometimes, the box office collection figure becomes a matter of prestige or ego as we are seeing in Pathaan. When ego comes into play, profitability could take a back seat.

The industry, probably prodded by the government, must have a body that declares box office collections just like SIAM (Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers) does in the automobiles sector. Transparency is important as Gautam Adani is learning today. Read  Is the auto slowdown for real 

Till transparency starts expect confusion as this picture shows. Cannot vouch for the figure but the point is, misinformation spreads due to lack of transparency.  


There could be an Indian equivalent of , an American site that tracks box-office revenue in a systematic way. It was bought by IMDB that is now owned by Amazon.

3. Can Box-office numbers be deflated or inflated?

Technically yes. Here are some examples that one has heard of. 

In 1970, a leading film producer allegedly bought tickets of Mera Nam Joker and sold them cheap so public might be fooled into thinking that the movie is not worth seeing. 

In 2010, an old friend visited a leading multiplex chain. He was given seats in first two rows because other tickets were sold out. By interval he realized the theatre was empty. The salesperson at the counter said what could she do if people bought tickets and did not come. Bottom line collections increased.

In 2015, a good friend say AK was invited by another friend to see a movie at leading multiplex chain. On reaching AK learnt that the entire hall was booked by his friend. The deeper intent was to boost collections. 

In the absence of documentary evidence cannot share more details.

Having said the above, industry sources state that due to increase in the number of shows at multiplexes and large scale computerization at their end it is difficult to replicate examples 2 and 3 referred to above.

If a movie shows abnormally high overseas collections it could be genuine collections or a way to receive money as legitimate income into India. There is however, no tax break on such receipts.  

4. Pathaan Collections

This has received undue press coverage. Perhaps, Bollywood and others want the movie to be known as a hit in order to get over a depressing 2022. When media reports start showing global collections for a movie out of the blue ordinary consumers guess it is paid PR and an attempt to influence them to watch the movie. If so many are seeing movie, why not you?

Business analyst and Influencer Taran Adarsh tweets - Feb 6 said Pathan crosses Rs 300 crs overseas. Tweet of Feb 7 says, “YRF drops rates of Pathaan in week 2 at National Chains. Resultantly, the admits on Monday are similar to Friday.” Aditya Nayak compared the two tweets of Taran and tweeted.

Would a producer reduce rates of a movie if it were a hit? Should collection figures be released by an industry association? 

Movie collections alone do not matter. Since cost per India Today is Rs 240 crs and per Filmik, movie costs Rs 275 crs, has it made a profit or loss and of how much is the question.  

Arms seized from Kashmiri Militants 1998 Army exhibition.

5. How Bollywood portrays Pakistan?

In 2015, Professor Dheeraj Sharma of Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad wrote a interesting article in The Hindustan Times on how communities are portrayed in Bollywood

Excerpts, “I am not a regular movie viewer. However, I was cajoled into watching the Salman Khan-starrer Bajrangi Bhaijaan and I was surprised at the director’s treatment of the subject. The majority of Indians were projected as narrow-minded, conservative, and discriminating. However, a majority of the Pakistanis were shown as open-minded and non-discriminating. This led me to empirically examine if this portrayal is a one-off presentation of stereo typicality or largely prevalent in Bollywood films. My research team and I examined randomly selected 50 films from the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s and 2000s and 2010s.”

“In addition, we examined 20 Bollywood movies that had Pakistan as the setting. In 18 of those films, Pakistanis were projected as welcoming, courteous, open-minded and courageous.” If Pakistanis were so courteous why are Hindus and Christians persecuted and forced to migrate to India or convert like Derek O’Brien cousins did. 

On one hand successive governments have spoken about terrorism emanating from Pakistan whilst on the other Bollywood is creating a different reality. Since movies are seen globally, are such movies nullifying the efforts of the Government of India w.r.t. Pakistan?

Should the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in national interest, design guidelines for the Censor Board to follow for all movies that depict Pakistan or China?  

Should these guidelines be made public? The list of countries would be dynamic.   

6. So how is Pakistan part of movie Pathaan?

A young lady who has seen the movie wrote, “RAW agent (SRK) is trying to save India when he realises ex-RAW agent (John) is trying to detonate a virus in India as part of his personal vengeance. Ex-ISI agent (Deepika) tries to help SRK but eventually betrays. Later she pleads guilty (when she knows that Pakistan is planning to launch virus on India via John).” Eventually she i.e. ex-ISI joins hands with RAW to defeat ex-RAW agent plans. Will this ever happen?  Is this even realistic keeping in mind the way Pakistan has exported terror to India, as discussed above. 

A summary on IMDB, “Pathaan and Rubina (Deepika) get hold of Rakhtbheej but Rubina ditches Pathaan and leaves him to die at the mercy of Russian government.” Given the friendly relations between Russia and India, would they allow a RAW agent to die as shown in the movie! 

Thereafter, Jyoti Malhotra wrote in ThePrint, “Pathaan is an unabashed attempt at, at least partially, taking another look at the India-Pakistan relationship.”

Also “defence journalist Gaurav Sawant tweeted, “Pak ISI is friendly only in Bollywood films. In life, ISI has been responsible for bleeding India from 1993 Mumbai serial blasts (257 killed) to 26/11 (166 killed) and despite being permitted to probe Pathankot, has refused to probe and punish perpetrators of radical Islamist terror.” Source

Also read SRK got you to cheer for a Pakistani agent and you cannot even deny it  

An earlier movie from the Spy Universe showed, “A Pakistani spy (played by Katrina Kaif) fall in love with an Indian spy (played by Salman Khan).” 

Also read  One-sided love for Pakistan in Bollywood 

The movie Pathaan drew a reaction from Kargil Veteran Major Rakesh Sharma, Shaurya Chakra. Sadly, the article is no longer there on Linkein. Those who risked their lives to kill Pakistan sponsored terrorism will react differently from those living in the comfort of metros.

When movie Haider was released it drew strong reactions from faujis too.   

A retired officer wrote in 2015, An Indian Army Officer Review of Haider. Excerpts, “I was stationed in Kashmir in mid-nineties. This was the same period when hordes of militants from across the border infiltrated in Kashmir to spread terror. Lashkar-e-Taiba, Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, Hizb-ul-Mujahideen and scores of other terrorist groups were having a free-for-all rampage in Kashmir. They would infiltrate from Pakistan, recruit cadre, take them to Pakistan for training, bring them back and perform heinous acts of terror.”

“This was the same period when Indian Army made greatest sacrifice to save India and humanity from reign of death and blood.”

“Haider shook me to core. It made me question for the first time – Whom are we fighting for? Whom are we defending? The same people who could make this film because of Army’s protection collude with an anti-national Jihadi writer to make a villain of Indian Army?”

One of the many reasons why Bollywood films fail to resonate with audiences is its portrayal of Pakistan!

Unless one has experienced terrorism first-hand, it might be easy to fall prey to one-sided views forgetting you are creative and alive because of security provided by the Indian Armed Forces.

Errors if any are unintended. Do mail with sources, and if found admissible, shall gladly correct the errors.  

Also read

1. How many Indians died due to terrorism and insurgency

2. Why is Pakistan failing

3. Why  has Democracy failed in Pakistan 

4. Om Shanthi Om - Subtle messages by Sharukh Khan 

There is more to India than the taj-South. 

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