On Nov. 23, along with its usual glut of interviews and news about Bollywood stars, the Bombay Times featured a solemn announcement: “Box Office column discontinued.”
The column, written by Priya Gupta, editor of Times of India Metro Supplements, said it was getting increasingly difficult to get good numbers for how films are doing at the box office because filmmakers and production houses “jack up their numbers.”
“While filmmakers have no hesitation in picking up the phone and trying to convince us about their false data, they will not send formal emails confirming the data as they are scared of subsequent expose,” the column said.
The Times of India is India’s most read newspaper, and its entertainment supplement is a crucial part of the package, often used as a platform for Medianet, the newspaper’s service where individuals or entities can buy front-page coverage.
But the fact that even the Bombay Times was forced to shut down its column goes to show the lack of credible box-office figures in the world’s largest film industry. Figures disseminated by studios and collated by trade analysts and those in the business almost always differ, and there is no credible authority to authenticate these figures.