Sholay – Biggest blockbuster of all times?

So, read an interesting piece today that indicated that Sholay did 15 cr of box office revenue from 150 screens in 1975 and it got me thinking – How big is that in today’s context?  With every producer ‘claiming’ his or, these days, her movie did 100 cr in box office revenue, how does that equate to, what was arguably India’s biggest hit?  What is the number a movie must hit to be considered the biggest ever?  Does 1000 cr seem reasonable?  Read on ….


A quick back of the envelope should give the answer.  If Sholay did 15 cr in 1975, compunding inflation at 5% until 2013 brings that amount to marginally over 100 cr. (100 rs in 1975 would be 675 today).  Now, here is the kicker – Sholay released on just 150 screens whereas blockbusters today release on 2000-2500 screens.  That’s a multiplication factor of 13 to 16.  Assuming 15, a movie today would have to generate 1500 cr (100 X 15) to be considered as big a hit as Sholay.

Before you say it, I realize that I have taken several liberties.  One could argue that if Sholay were to release in 2000 theaters it would not have the kind of run it did.  One could also argue that home video was not prevalent then.  Similarly, one could counter argue that ticket prices have gone up at least 20 times as opposed to 6.75 (100 rs in 1975 would be 675 today) in the case of inflation.  I am sure somebody with a little more time and inclination can arrive at a scientifically more sound figure.  For me personally, I believe that if a movie released pre 2016 hits 1000 cr in revenue, it should be heralded the greatest hit ever.  This number would also put Bollywood within striking distance of Hollywood which would be a great achievement.

Until then, let’s just take comfort in the creative ads proclaiming 100, 200, 500 cr in box office receipts even before a movie is released 🙂