Bollywood rediscovered heroes in 2011

Sun Dec 25, 2011 9:02pm EST
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By Shilpa Jamkhandikar

MUMBAI (Reuters) - Bollywood struck gold in 2011, revving up lacklustre box offices in India with help from its leading men who wooed audiences back to cinemas after a dismal 2010.

Domestic revenues hit 19.25 billion rupees ($363.2 million) this year, up from 14.5 billion rupees in 2010, and an unprecedented four films crossed the billion rupee milestone. Two of those blockbusters starred actor Salman Khan.

The solid performance contrasted sharply to the previous year when there were hardly any hits.

"Audiences and filmmakers have gone back and discovered stories that are close to our Indian roots," said Sanjeev Lamba, Chief executive of Reliance Entertainment, which produced two of the year's biggest blockbusters -- "Bodyguard" and "Singham".

"Bodyguard", in which Khan plays a personal security guard to a rich man's daughter and ends up falling in love with her, was the most successful Bollywood film, raking in more than 1.5 billion rupees ($28 million) at domestic box offices.

"Singham" told the story of a right-minded police officer who stands up to a corrupt politician and was accompanied by romance, drama and high-octane action.

Both "Bodyguard" and "Singham" were panned by critics but loved by audiences. And both featured strong central characters, harkening back to the 1980s and early '90s in Bollywood when films were centred on the hero and his defeat of a villain in a battle of good versus evil.

"Audiences have always loved the dilemmas of the hero, a little bit of action, some drama and some romance," Lamba said. "We had a lot of that this year."   Continued...

<p>Bollywood actor Salman Khan (R) reacts on the green carpet for the International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) awards in Colombo June 5, 2010. Colombo is playing host to the annual awards which are held in a different city each year -- a sign of Bollywood's efforts to broaden its global appeal. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte</p>