#2023Recap: 8 Direct-to-Digital films of 2023 that should have been released in theatres

The post-pandemic trend of films releasing directly on OTT continued in 2023. Some films were digital originals from day 1 while a few of them were made for a theatrical experience. However, due to the unpredictable nature of the box office, few of them skipped a release on the big cinema and premiered directly on an OTT giant. But 2023 proved that even films, that are not front-loaded or reek of mass appeal, can also excel at the ticket window. Bollywood Hungama, in this special report, lists 8 films which we feel should have got a chance on the big screen.

1. Gulmohar
The film had a Kapoor & Sons (2016) and Monsoon Wedding (2001) feel and rested on bravura performances and strong emotional moments. At the box office, it might have started slow but had the potential to score a higher Monday than Friday.

2. Chor Nikal Ke Bhaga
This is a sleeper hit on Netflix as it emerged as the most-watched original film on the platform in the first 6 months. This was possible as the content was thrilling and unpredictable. Just like it surprised one and all with its performance on Netflix, it could have amazed trade and industry with its box office run as well.

3. Sirf Ek Bandaa Kaafi Hai
This is easily the most loved OTT film of 2023. If it created a rage on social media despite being a digital release, imagine the impact if it had got a chance on the big screen. Looking at the response, it wouldn’t have been a surprise if it had opened at Rs. 1 or 2 crore and ended its lifetime with Rs. 50 or even Rs. 60 crores. It did later get a small release in cinemas but by then, most people had already seen it on Zee5. Zee Studios CBO Shariq Patel, in an exclusive interview with Bollywood Hungama, revealed that they could have brought the film to cinemas if multiplexes had done away with the VPF rule.

4. Bloody Daddy
The Shahid Kapoor-starrer had its share of issues but at the same time, was fit for a theatrical experience. Many members of the media, including this writer, were lucky to see it at a preview theatre and it was fun to experience the action on the big screen. There’s no doubt that even the audience, especially the masses, would have also enjoyed the film in cinema halls.

5. Tarla
This heartwarming film could have attracted elite and female audiences, especially in big city multiplexes.

6. Bawaal
The subject of this Varun Dhawan-Janhvi Kapoor was not conventional. But looking at the response, it was clear that the film was accepted. In cinemas, it could have been director Nitesh Tiwari’s third consecutive hit after Dangal (2016) and Chhichhore (2019).

7. Khufiya
The Tabu-starrer was highly gripping from start to finish and enjoyed appreciation from almost all quarters. The scene of Wamiqa Gabbi, making merry in her house while Tabu is snooping on her was a rage on social media. The impact would have been more if it was a theatrical release. At the ticket window, it had the potential to have emerged as Vishal Bhardwaj’s highest-ever grosser.

8. Kho Gaye Hum Kahan
There’s no doubt that the film is quite urban and niche. But the young crowd in metros have related to the film well. Also, Bollywood doesn’t make films catering to teenagers and those under 25. This chunk of moviegoers would have thronged theatres and ensured that the film would have got a ‘Hit’ status.

Also Read: #2023Recap: Notable box-office and industry trends: Shah Rukh Khan is here to stay, Salman Khan is just one blockbuster away from dominance, Ranbir Kapoor is a superstar, RIP Boycott Bollywood and more…

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