Aamir Khan’s Dangal, Salman Khan’s Sultan and Sonam Kapoor’s Neerja – the biggest box office hits of 2016!


2016 may not have had enough super-hits, but it will be remembered for many landmark box office achievements. All this while there was a distinct divide between intellectual and massy cinema. That still exists but the lines have become blur. In 2016, it’s just content that won. Pink is a classic example of that. Apart from that, many filmmakers had the vision to understand what exactly their film is about and who are they catering to. Hence, such films made them cash-rich. Makers of Dear Zindagi would agree the most with us. As they say a stitch in time saves nine, 2016 saw many such stitches which kept producers afloat despite delivering disappointments. So let us tell you how the box office behaved this year.

The Winners

Aamir Khan and Salman Khan were two superstars who brought tremendous amount of money to the industry. With Dangal and  Sultan, not only did Bollywood get two of the biggest blockbuster this year, it also proved that even superstars want to serve variety to their fans. Salman had to go through a lot to get that desired look of a wrestler and despite many bruises, he made it happen. His fans rewarded him with Rs. 300 crore! Mr Perfectionist’s portrayal of Mahavir Phogat in Dangal was lapped up by fans and critics alike and he surpassed the Sultan’s 2016 box office record. Akshay Kumar proved he may not be giving Rs. 200-300 crore films, but his three releases with Rs. 100 crore each in the pocket is enough to trump over all the Khans. Airlift, Housefull 3 and Rustom made him the top actor of this year. AK achieved a feat that no Khan has managed a hat-trick in one year. Sushant Singh Rajput’s turn as Mahendra Singh Dhoni got a unanimous thumbs up and so did Ranbir Kapoor-Aishwarya Rai Bachchan’s Ae Dil Hai Mushkil.

It doesn’t end there. 2016 has been specially gratifying for women-centric films. If Sonam Kapoor’s Neerja became the most profitable film of the year, Akira, Kahaani 2, Pink and Dear Zindagi proved audience is ready to see a heroine as the hero of a film. Much credit also goes to the producers who knew how to market such films. Rather than going the whole hog with over 2000 screens, they kept the reach minimal. Neerja opened with only a handful of screens but became super successful at the box office thanks to a heart wrenching story. Pink was a multiplex film that apparently released with only 1000 screens but the word of mouth it received help the film leave Raaz Reboot far behind. That’s the film it clashed with at the box office. In fact, despite M S Dhoni – The Untold Story‘s release, Pink continued to make money – thus becoming one of the successful films of 2016.

Akira with Sonakshi Sinha doing what we see Salman and Akshay do in their films – beating goons to pulp, was made at a minimal budget of Rs 13 cr and earned Rs 28.73 cr. That says it all!  Even Priyanka Chopra’s Jai Gangajaal made money, thanks to its low cost. Same goes for Kahaani 2 and Dear Zindagi. In fact, the last two films taught Bollywood an invaluable lesson. They were low budgeted (not more than Rs 25 crore) and were released in lesser screens (1200-1235). Resultant? Both made money. Interestingly, the less budget, less screens formula even helped Freaky Ali earn better than Katrina Kaif’s Baar Baar Dekho. No, that doesn’t make the film a hit, of course!

The losers

Oh…with a heavy heart we have to say that there have been a plethora of duds this year. And with a lump in our throat we have to tell you that Shah Rukh Khan’s Fan is one of them. Kill us, call us names but a film like Fan put a question mark on his box office credibility. You would argue Dear Zindagi worked. True, very true but DZ is not his film. His solo release Fan was supposed to prove to everyone that Shah Rukh is not just a superstar but a great actor as well. Fortunately, it did that but failed to set the cash registers ringing. A film that was made for the fans was rejected by his own fans.

Katrina Kaif only saw disasters this year, first with Fitoor and then with Baar Baar Dekho. Sunny Leone stopped being relevant with Mastizaade, One night Stand and Beiimaan Love. Aishwarya Rai Bachchan’s Sarbjit was unnecessary, Emraan Hashmi forgot his magic touch as both Azhar and Raaz Reboot were massive disappointments.

2016 has been specially unforgiving towards newcomers. Anil Kapoor’s son Harshvardhan’s debut film Mirzya was a disaster and so was Pooja Hegde’s Mohenjo Daro.

Yearly trends 

The biggest trend that was observed this year which put Bollywood on high alert was the blockbuster performances of Hollywood films. They defeated Hindi films to gain big numbers. The Jungle Book is the second highest grossing film of this year after Sultan if we take both the industries into account. In fact, it is the highest grossing Hollywood film in India ever! It defeated Shah Rukh Khan’s Fan despite initially pre-poning its release date a week earlier to not get affected by SRK’s film. Surprisingly, the exact opposite happened here. If that wasn’t enough, other releases beat every Hindi film at the box office.

Actually, it began with Deadpool and Fitoor. While people discarded the Hindi adaptation of The Great Expectations, Ryan Reynolds’ wisecracking foul mouthed superhero gig wowed everyone. Mind you, Censor Board had snipped a lot of dialogues from the film and yet it was a winner at the box office. Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice defeated Rocky Handsome, Captain America: Civil War beat 1920: London, X-Men: Apocalypse got more love than Sarbjit and Conjuring 2 defeated Amitabh Bachchan’s TE3N.

If we talk about Khan power at the box office, it’s only Salman who managed to keep that a reality with Sultan. Dangal is yet to release but by the time the film makes a big score, it will already be 2017. Akshay Kumar is the most bankable actor in Bollywood now, without any doubt.

Controlled budget and limited release helped many small films become superhits this year namely Pink and Dear Zindagi. This is one trend we would want see followed in 2017 as well. It’s only then that Bollywood will be able to register more wins than losses.

Star performers

Aamir Khan’s Dangal might have released at the end of the year, but in just thirteen days the film managed to make the most money that any film this year earned. Not to forget that the performances of the entire starcast was hailed. Salman Khan with Sultan, Akshay Kumar with three Rs 100 crore films, Shah Rukh Khan with his cameos, Ranbir Kapoor with his passionate chemistry with Aishwarya Rai Bachchan are the star performers of this year. Add to that Amitabh Bachchan’s revolutionary Pink and Alia Bhatt’s slice of life Dear Zindagi. However, Sonam Kapoor should be the one getting maximum applause here because she did a splendid job as Neerja Bhanot. The actress silenced everyone who questioned her acting calibre.

Looking ahead…

2017 will throw many big and small films our way. But there are a few which we are eagerly waiting for. First is Ok Jaanu, the remake of hit Tamil movie O Kadhal Kanmani. Followed by the big box office clash between Kaabil and Raees. There’s also Salman’s Tubelight and Akshay’s Toilet Ek Prem Katha. SRK’s Ring too is one of our favourites. So yea, 2017 will be equally big. Oh…did we mention Tiger Zinda Hai? 2017 will be glorious, we can feel it!


  1. from someone at ATX, but I personally am sorry to see you leave and wish things were different, but it’s tought to fault someone for wanting to better their opntuorpities in life. I appreciate having had the chance to get to know you during your short stay in Northern Maine, and you will be missed by all. I wish you the absolute best and I know you will find it because that’s the kind of person that you are. I hope that you will keep in touch.