Why did Mithun Chakraborty do the cheap B grade flop movies particularly in the 90s?

Mithun Chakraborty came in Bollywood as an outsider. He has no godfather in Bollywood. His very first movie named “Mrigaya” bagged him a National award for best actor. After the successful Mera Rakshak, Chakraborty rose to stardom with the low budget spy film Surakshaa (1979), directed by Ravikant Nagaich. The film was so successful that many movies starring Chakraborty in the lead were launched. The combination with Deepak Bahry also happened for the first time in 1979 with Tarana. Another important film for Chakraborty in the late 1970s was Prem Vivah, directed by Basu Chatterjee.

Mithun Chakraborty literally ruled Bollywood in the 1980s, with the brand of impossible heroics and made-for-the-front-row lines as he starred in over 110 releases in this decade. Chakraborty played the lead role of Bheema in the super-hit multi-starrer movie Hum Paanch (1980). And, in 1982, Disco Dancer extended Chakraborty’s popularity across India and into Russia. Even today, youngsters copy the “Mithun-style dance”. He also did lighter roles in Shaukeen, Sun Sajna and Aamne Samne. His 1985 superhit movie ‘Pyar Jhukta Nahin reconfirmed his top star status. That same year, he was also appreciated for his role as Javar in the JP Dutta film, Ghulami. Chakraborty also became India’s highest tax payer in 1986. Chakraborty went on to star in a number of romantic and family dramas during the 1980s, such as Mujhe Insaaf Chahiye, Ghar Ek Mandir, Pyaar Jhukta Nahin, Swarag Se Sunder and Pyaar Ka Mandir. These films remain his most commercially successful films to date. He was also widely recognized as an action hero in films such as Jagir, Jaal, Dilwaala, Watan Ke Rakhwale and Waqt Ki Awaz. His performances never won any award in 1986 and 1987 as the Filmfare Awards were never announced due to technical reasons. As Chakraborty always had higher number of releases, sometimes it affected the business of his own films, as happened in 1989, where he had a record 19 films. This was the golden phase of Mithun Chakraborty. But in 90’s his career in mainstream Bollywood was declining due to the advent of Anil Kapoor, Jackie Shroff, Aamir, Salman and SRK and other new comers.

Although, Chakraborty had another 100 plus releases in this decade too, starting with Agneepath, which won him the Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actor. Films such as Shandaar,Gunahon Ka Devta, Pyar Ka Devta,Trinetra and Mere Sajana Saath Nibhana followed. In 1992, the critically acclaimed Bengali film Tahader Katha won him his second National Film Award for Best Actor. But Mithun Chakraborty was a shrewd businessman. He knew his limitations. He knew that his career in mainstream Bollywood was declining due to the advent of Anil Kapoor, Jackie Shroff, Aamir, Salman and SRK.

He decided to take a break from Mumbai. He shifted his entire family to Ooty and he constructed The Monarch Hotel. Chakraborty then decided to do movies only to be shot at Ooty and nearby locations and he provided discount rates to the film crew to stay in his hotel as well. He transformed himself from an artiste into a businessman. Chakraborty laid down certain working conditions. He gave bulk dates for producers who were asked to shoot in Ooty (stay at his hotel, naturally) or neighboring locations.

This strategy paid off as numerous films starring Chakraborty were launched every week, so he shifted his focus from mainstream Hindi cinemas to low-budget movies. Dalaal was released followed by other low-budget films such as Phool Aur Angaar, Ravan Raaj: A True Story and Shapath, which created a market for low-budget productions. The heroines of South like Rambha, Sneha etc, were signed for a cheaper rate and film was completed in 3/4 months. The movies were made on a small scale budget of Rs. 2 crore, and sold at Rs. 25/45 lacs per territory. This was a smart move and it earned him double the investments plus the hotel bills.

And even if the films was a superfluous the costs were recovered as Mithun’s films has a loyal audience in the B- and C-class centers, so it becomes a safe film.

In an interview Mithun had said, “I give the completion date. Distributors are 101 per cent sure that the film will be completed, producers make a profit even before release. In the film industry, everybody is gambling. But if you do business, you don’t gamble.”

“When I’m shooting for one, I’m writing the next. The script takes one month and the music sittings one week. I shoot for 40 days and post-production takes 15 days.”

A film Sher-e-Hindustani was made in 28 days.

The former Rajya Sabha member, has already won 3 National Awards & 2 Filmfare awards till the 2000, and he was also instrumental in bringing Jackie Shroff into the B grade cinema to revive his flagging career.

His style of making factory style movies was made a study case in many management colleges. Chakraborty also holds the record of appearing in the highest number of Hindi films as hero.

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