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Dhawan and Bhatt in ‘Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania' Image Credit: Supplied

For sometime now, Bollywood has been romancing the small-town. Films ranging from the simplistic ‘Bareilly Ki Barfi’ and ‘Raanjhanaa’, to the glamour-packed ‘Badrinath Ki Dulhania’ or ‘Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania’ have been only a few examples among numerous that have been exploring various facets of heartland India.

In 2019, the Hindi film industry seems to be in the mood to take the game to the next level. Simple tales of simple folk won’t do anymore. Whether it is the street rapper of ‘Gully Boy’ or the underprivileged genius teenagers of ‘Super 30’ or the lower caste Indians of ‘Article 15’, whose right to dignified life is regularly violated, Bollywood is suddenly focusing on being the voice of the marginalised.

‘Super 30’, which opened this week, may have seen mixed reviews owing to flawed storytelling, but the film does have its heart in the right place. The film, based on the life of Patna-based math wiz Anand Kumar, who launched the Super 30 programme for underprivileged IIT-JEE aspirants, is an important reminder to the fact that poor, lower-caste kids with merit and a desire to enter IIT but don’t have the money also have the right to higher education.

Rs118m

Amount Super 30 made at the Indian box office on day one

The film has had a decent start at the box office collecting Rs118.3 million on day one, points out trade analyst Taran Adarsh: “‘Super 30’ has a decent day one. Business picked up at metros and urban centres (Mumbai and South specifically) towards evening though mass pockets are ordinary to dull. The film should witness growth on day two and three.”

Just last month, Anubhav Sinha’s film, ‘Article 15’ made a hard-hitting case for prohibiting discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth, in accordance with Article 15 of Indian Constitution.

“One of the reasons we wanted to make the film is that we want to reach out to rural India, to places where discrimination is still happening based on caste. If we made an art house film and only travelled to international film festivals, we would reach the audience who are already aware of such discrimination,” the film’s lead actor Ayushmann Khurrana told media.

Rs537m

Article 15's three-week box office collection

‘Article 15’ began its third week on Friday on a steady note, having grossed Rs536.8 million in the domestic market despite its grim theme.

When Ranveer Singh and Alia Bhatt-starrer ‘Gully Boy’ released earlier this year, underground rappers couldn’t stop saying “Apna time ayega [My time will come]”.

Rs1.4b

Amount Gully Boy made in the Indian domestic market

The hit movie that took the audience through the Dharavi slums of Mumbai, was inspired by the life story of street rappers Divine and Naved Shaikh --- aka Naezy --- known for their song ‘Mere Gully Mein’.

Zoya Akhtar’s ‘Gully Boy’ managed to make Rs1.4 billion in the domestic market and was declared a superhit, primarily riding on the star power of Singh and Bhatt. That proves a vital truth. If the big stars of Bollywood show the guts to take up gritty subjects, the audience will follow.