India’s biggest flop was also India’s most expensive film, had 8 superstars, earned just Rs 8 crore, now a cult classic

India’s biggest flop was also India’s most expensive film, had 8 superstars, earned just Rs 8 crore, now a cult classic

Billed as India’s most expensive film, this film was a box office disaster despite the presence of 8 superstars, becoming India’s biggest flop

Sholay emerged as the biggest hit in the history of Indian cinema. The film broke all box office records, surpassing blockbusters like Mother India and Mughal-e-Azam to become the highest-grossing Indian film ever. Naturally, it was a tough act to follow for young director Ramesh Sippy. To top it, Sippy came up with a James Bond-style action thriller with eight superstars and the biggest budget in Bollywood history. The end result, however, was a disaster.

India’s most expensive film that became the biggest flop

In 1980, Sippy directed a heavyweight star cast of Amitabh Bachchan, Sunil Dutt, Shashi Kapoor, Shatrughan Sinha, Raakhee Gulzar, Parveen Babi, Bindiya Goswami, Johnny Walker, and Kulbhushan Kharbanda in a film titled Shaan. The film was a revenge drama with Kharbanda playing Shakaal, a villain inspired by James Bond’s Ernst Stavro Blofeld. Shaan was made on a reported budget of Rs 6 crore, twice as much as Sholay, making it the most expensive Indian film at that point. It held the record for three years till Kamal Amrohi’s Raziya Sultan dethroned it with its Rs 7-crore budget.

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A poster of Shaan

However, Shaan was not successful at the box office. It started well but negative reviews meant a bad word of mouth, which affected collections. In the end, during its initial run, Shaan was a disaster at the box office in India. Overseas, the film did better and managed to salvage something.

 

How Shaan became a cult classic

But even as Shaan was a failure commercially, the film left a lasting impact on Bollywood. Kulbhushan Kharbanda’s Shakaal is celebrated as one of the most iconic villains in Bollywood history and many have noted its impact on other memorable villains like Amrish Puri’ Mogambo from Mr India. Shaan earned substantially more in re-releases to eventually turn profitable for its makers but years later. It’s final box office collection was Rs 8 crore. After Shaan began to be aired on TV in the 80s and 90s, it developed a cult following.

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