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Rewind 2018: Hindi cinema's biggest hits of the year

The table of the 10 biggest profit-making films of 2018 saw the rare and unexpected omission of all three Khans.

Keyur Seta

Every year has its share of hits and flops. Last year was no different. However, that is not to say nothing changed in 2018. It did.

Last year was the first time in a long time when quite a few films without any major stars headlining them clicked at the box office while the so-called superstars delivered duds.

Thus, actors like Rajkummar Rao (Stree) and Ayushmann Khurrana (Badhaai Ho and Andhadhun) delivered blockbusters while the three Khans — Salman, Aamir and Shah Rukh — came a cropper. Their films — Race 3, Thugs Of Hindostan and Zero, respectively — all proved to be turkeys.

Who would have dreamt at the beginning of the year that the two films with the highest profit percentages would star Rajkummar Rao and Khurrana? But it was that kind of year, with none of the Khans featuring in our list of biggest hits, compiled on the basis of return on investment (RoI) rather than just the box-office collection.

So, which films topped our list, you ask? Read on.

10. Simmba (RoI 80%)

Ranveer Singh had a great start to 2018 with Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Padmaavat, which collected over Rs300 crore nett at the domestic box office (but which fails to find a mention in this list because it had an almost equally high budget).

The end of the year was bigger for Ranveer Singh with Rohit Shetty's Simmba. Co-starring (in a small role) Sara Ali Khan, the film provided exactly what a Rohit Shetty film promises — nonstop entertainment. Quite unsurprisingly, the film worked wonders at the box office where it ran for five weeks and collected Rs239 crore nett.

9. Dhadak (RoI 80.975%)

Director Shashank Khaitan’s Dhadak was the official Hindi remake of Marathi blockbuster Sairat (2016). It was also the launch vehicle for the late Sridevi's daughter Janhvi Kapoor. Hence, the film was expected to do well at the box office.

While Dhadak paled, critically and RoI-wise, before the radical Sairat, which cost Rs4 crore to make and collected Rs82 crore nett at the box office, the buzz around the more lavishly mounted film (Rs40 crore) ensured that it at least made a decent profit with a collection of Rs72.39 crore nett at the domestic box office. The music by the duo Ajay-Atul also played an important part in the film's success.

8. Hichki (RoI 130.9%)

Over the past decade, Rani Mukerji has limited her appearances on the big screen. Her last feature, Mardaani (2014), was successful at the box office, but thereafter the actress took a long break to become a mother.

Hichki was Mukerji's first film after having daughter Adira with filmmaker husband Aditya Chopra, and it was produced once again, naturally, by her husband's company and directed by Siddharth P Malhotra. This time, however, they kept the budget really tight at just Rs20 crore and so, with some decent numbers at the box office (Rs46.18 crore), the film made it into our list.

7. Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety (RoI 152%)

Every year there is bound to be one surprise entry or the other. Last year it was Luv Ranjan’s Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety.

The team of Luv Ranjan, Kartik Aaryan and Nushrat Bharucha had given hits earlier in the form of Pyaar Ka Punchnama (2011) and Pyaar Ka Punchnama 2 (2015). Hence, there was a chance that the combination would work again.

But not many would have expected the film to not only enter the Rs100 crore club but also have a healthy profit percentage of 152. Just like Baaghi 2, which follows, Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety also received largely negative reviews. But that did not stop the cash registers ringing.

6. Baaghi 2 (RoI 167.9%)

Before the release of Ahmed Khan’s Baaghi 2, Tiger Shroff had a good fan following. But after the release of this film, it is clear that he is on his way to become the hero of the masses.

Baaghi 2, which also starred Disha Patani, was meant for the single-screen audience for whom cinema is action, songs and dances, witty dialogues and herogiri. They accepted the film despite the fact that it was panned by most critics and received negative word-of-mouth.

The film’s profit percentage of 167 has increased Tiger Shroff’s market value. Although the film's cost of production was on the higher side at Rs60 crore, it went on to earn as much as Rs160 crore. 

5. Andhadhun (RoI 193.48%)

With the exception of Agent Vinod (2012), director Sriram Raghavan received critical appreciation for all his films — Ek Haseena Thi (2004), Johnny Gaddar (2007) and Badlapur (2015). But they never achieved super success at the box office.

Andhadhun broke the shackles for him. The dark comedy, starring Ayushmann Khurrana, Tabu and Radhika Apte, received a thumbs up from the audience. More importantly, it broke the rules at the ticket window for this genre. The film, made at an estimated budget of just Rs25 crore, earned Rs73.37 crore at the domestic box office.

4. Raazi (RoI 202.675%)

Films with a woman as the central character have been coming with greater frequency over the past few years. Some of these have also done decently well at the box office, breaking the rule that a film needs a male star or a ‘hero’ to make it succeed.

Meghna Gulzar’s Raazi took this a step further by becoming one of the biggest hits of 2018, collecting over Rs120 crore at the domestic box office.

The Alia Bhatt starrer was a spy thriller about a young Kashmiri woman marrying a Pakistani army officer to gain intelligence about the ‘enemy’ country. Yet it was a sensible thriller that stayed away from jingoism. Despite this, the film had a positive pre-release buzz which continued after its release with the content receiving a thumbs up from the audience. Alia Bhatt’s popularity with the youth played its part.

3. Sanju (RoI 234.57%)

Filmmaker Rajkumar Hirani is known for making blockbusters with big stars. In fact, he has this image of a filmmaker who sets box-office records. So, the inclusion of Sanju, biopic of actor Sanjay Dutt, in this list so high up should come as no surprise. Hirani has gone on to score a triple century yet again at the box office after PK (2014).

Sanju was in the news from the day the project was announced because it looks into the life of a very controversial personality. The curiosity factor, Hirani’s manner of keeping the audience entertained, and the performances of Ranbir Kapoor and Vicky Kaushal were enough to ensure huge collections for the film.

Even the media criticism the film received for its attempt to whitewash Sanjay Dutt’s image did not hurt the film. 

2. Badhaai Ho (RoI 348.13 %)

Not many would have banked on a film starring Ayushmann Khurrana and Sanya Malhotra to be the second most profitable of the year. But that is exactly why 2018 has gone down in history as the year when content overshadowed stardom.

Directed by Amit Ravindernath Sharma, Badhaai Ho belonged equally to Neena Gupta and Gajraj Rao, if not more. The unusual subject of a woman on the cusp of menopause becoming a mother for the third time, quite by accident, provided plenty of laughs for the audience. This, in turn, translated into some big numbers at the box office.

Made at a modest budget of Rs30 crore, the film earned in excess of Rs134.44 crore.

1. Stree (RoI 398.24%)

In a year when big names like Aamir Khan, Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan and Akshay Kumar had films lined up, it was indeed sweet that a small film by a first-time feature filmmaker starring accomplished actors like Rajkummar Rao, Aparshakti Khurana and Pankaj Tripathi, with Shraddha Kapoor being the only 'star' in the mix, emerged as the biggest hit.

Such was the year 2018. Amar Kaushik’s horror comedy set in a nondescript central India town was lapped up by audiences all over the country, including in the metros, for its entertaining content.

The film went on to earn over Rs120 crore nett at the domestic box office, turning in a massive profit because of the ridiculously low budget it was made in.

Update, 7pm IST: Hichki was wrongly credited to director Pradeep Sarkar in the report. The error has been corrected.