Rahul Bose at IFFI 2018

Actor-director Rahul Bose minced no words saying that films with no big names are not accepted, except in the metros of India. He was talking in context of his directorial Poorna (2017) in the ‘Redefining Stories’ session at the 49th International Film Festival of India in Panaji, Goa today (22 November). 

Poorna is about a 13-year-old girl who climbs Mount Everest. The film is based on the true story of Malavath Poorna, a tribal girl from Telangana, who created history by becoming the youngest girl in the world to scale Mount Everest at the age of 13 in 2014. Aditi Inamdar portrayed Poorna on screen.

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“Everybody thinks it was a gutsy decision to make a Rs10-crore film (Rs10.75 crore counting production and prints and ads) with a 13-year-old girl from Telangana. I never thought of it that way. I just thought it was a fantastic mainstream film. Little girl climbs Everest, holds Indian flag, isse zyada mainstream aur kya ho sakta hai [what could be more mainstream than this?] We released it in 282 screens and made X [amount] in the first week. We cut out tier 1 and tier 2 towns and came down to 140 screens in the second week and I made X [amount] plus 10%,” he said, adding that the film sank without a trace in these areas.

Bose highlighted that it was a reality check for him as a producer. “This defines the Hindi film industry. Take it from me, this will be the last film that will be made which is a mainstream film. It has every predictable beat of a mainstream film. There is nothing arty about this film, you don’t have to think. Yet the film sank without a trace in the B1 and B2 towns.” 

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He went on to add that Poorna was kept alive by the seven big cities (Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Kolkata, Chandigarh, Delhi, and Ahmedabad). “Apart from these cities, India is not interested in a mainstream film without a [big, known] face. Forget it, go home. If you don’t have a recognizable face, go home,” he said sternly. 

He mentioned that Poorna had begun to just break even due to the a good deal cracked with a digital platform. “We cracked a very good deal with Amazon Prime, Zee for overseas and on satellite, plus the box office, from which we didn’t recover the Rs10.5 crore. All in all, we crossed Rs11 crore today.” Bose also informed that he was in talks to get Poorna released in China. “Yesterday, I got an offer to release the film in China. The profits will start coming in from there now — one-and-a-half years after the film was released.”

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Speaking from a producer’s point of view, Bose insisted that high ticket prices could not be brought down as it would result in a loss-making venture for the distributor.

Bose has previously directed Everybody Says I’m Fine (2002) and acted in several critically acclaimed films like Mr. & Mrs. Iyer (2002), Chameli (2004), The Japanese Wife (2010) and I Am (2011) among others.

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