Dharma Productions: Ruling The Box-Office And Winning Hearts


From its first production Dostana in 1980 to its most-recent smash, 2017’s Badrinath Ki Dulhania, Dharma Productions has gradually become a tour-de-force in the Hindi film industry, prominent among its peers and the audience as a banner associated with quality films, non-conformist content, slick production values, blockbuster success, and, most importantly, cinema that can be enjoyed by the entire family.

Dharma was established by noted producer and Karan Johar’s father, Yash Johar, in 1976, and its founder’s vision of making films earmarked by lavish sets, exotic locations, and attractive visuals juxtaposed against traditional Indian stories is being followed to this day, albeit with newer and exciting content. Decade after decade, Dharma has strived to entertain Indian audiences with content that at once stands out for its distinctiveness and rich-storytelling from others in a respective era, which is probably why its films have always managed to connect with moviegoers translating into massive box-office successes. Even their films like 1990’s Agneepath or 1998’s Duplicate, which were initially not as well-received by the audience, have gone on to amass cult status with time, showing that Dharma’s films cater to a longevity and fondness rarely enjoyed by most other production houses, more so in today’s cash-and-grab scenario.

After beginning with a bang with Director Raj Kumar Khosla’s Dostana, which starred the biggest star of the time, Amitabh Bachchan, along with Shatrugan Sinha and Zeenat Aman, the company saw a dip in fortunes with their next three releases – Duniya, Muqaddar Ka Faisla, and Agneepath (the last one did win a National Awardthrough) – and the 90s, too, was a mixed bag, with Gumrah making the right noise but Shah Rukh Khan delivering a rare underperformer in Duplicate.

Film Year Nett Collection ((NR) Verdict
Dostana 1980 4.50 crore Superhit
Duniya 1984 2.25 crore Below Average
Muqaddar ka Faisla 1987 1.30 crore Flop
Agneepath 1990 5.75 crore Flop
Gumrah 1993 3.40 crore Hit
Duplicate 1998 9.25 crore Below Average


However, everything changed from the moment Karan Johar decided to usurp the Director’s mantel for the first time with 1998’s Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, and, thereafter, there was simply no looking back. The banner saw such an upswing in fortunes that within the next five years and three releases, it was being counted among the prime production houses in the country, and also among the few that had successfully tapped into the overseas market as well. It was also around this time that SRK became intrinsically linked with Dharma films, so much so that one could say that the actor and banner’s close personal and professional working equation became mutually beneficial for both, seeing a parallel, almost intertwining rise in each other’s success stories.

Film Year Nett Collection ((NR) Verdict
Kuch Kuch Hota Hai 1998 45.25 crore All-Time Blockbuster
Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham 2001 47.0 crore Blockbuster
Kal Ho Naa Ho 2003 35.0 crore Superhit


The rest of the first decade of the new millennium saw Dharma deliver one success after another, and most of these films dared to be different, yet operate within viable commercial boundaries, thus appealing to different tastes and, eventually, finding their desired audience. Barring the odd failure, Dharma had truly become one-of-the-biggest brands in the history of Indian cinema.

Film Year Nett Collection ((NR) Verdict
Kaal 2005 19.75 crore Semi-Hit
Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna 2006 45.75 crore Hit
Dostana 2008 44.50 crore Semi-Hit
Wake Up Sid 2009 29.0 crore Semi-Hit
Kurbaan 2009 24.0 crore Flop
My Name is Khan 2010 72.75 crore Hit
I Hate Luv Storys 2010 43.68 crore Hit
We Are Family 2010 21.61 crore Average


The nest decade of the 2000s saw the production house again up their game when it came to unique content, but, truth be told, some of these ventures didn’t have the proposed impact nor achieve the coveted results. However, the last two years have seen the kind of red-hot streak that constitute a production house’s wet dream. The combined business of the six films produced by Dharma in this time has touched a mammoth Rs. 422.76 crore nett, and if the turnover of the Hindi version of Baahubali 2, which they distributed, is factored in, then that number shoots up to an astronomical Rs. 933.49 crore nett. The numbers speak for themselves, and as they say, statistics don’t lie.

Film Year Nett Collection ((NR) Verdict
Agneepath 2012 122.0 crore Superhit
Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu 2012 39.75 crore Average
Student of the Year 2012 70.0 crore Hit
Gippi 2013 4.26 crore Below Average
Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani 2013 188.0 crore Blockbuster
Gori Tere Pyaar Mein 2013 16.32 crore Flop
Hasee Toh Phasee 2014 35.0 crore Above Average
2 States 2014 102.0 crore Superhit
Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania 2014 77.0 crore Superhit
Ungli 2014 21.0 crore Disaster
Brothers 2015 83.0 crore Flop
Shaandaar 2015 43.0 crore Flop
Kapoor & Sons 2016 76.0 crore Superhit
Baar baar Dekh 2016 31.0 crore Disaster
Ae Dil Hai Mushkil 2016 112.0 crore Hit
Dear Zindagi 2016 64.44 crore Hit
Ok Jaanu 2017 23.64 crore Flop
Badrinath Ki Dulhania 2017 116.68 crore Superhit
Baahubali 2 (Distributor) 2017 510. 73 crore All-Time Blockbuster


The reason for Dharma films to click so well with the audience time after time has to be attributed to six irrefutable factors:

1.) Karan Johar’s brand value with both the Indian and NRI audience

2.) The eagerness of big stars to be associated with the banner

3.) The banner’s willingness to try out new directing and writing talent, which offers audience different kinds of cinema

4.) Core Indian content despite the non-stereotypical scripts and unique treatments

5.) Lavish production values

6.) Smart budgeting plans justifying a film’s reach and star cast


The combination of the aforementioned elements have been the backbone of Dharma’s rise to the top over the years, and should continue to hold them in good stead with their forthcoming releases. Films like Ittefaq, Drive, Raazi, Student of the Year 2, and Brahmastra boast the same defining aspects that we love about a Dharma production, and, more than anything, they carry budgets that perfectly suit the material and cast on hand. AS they say, ‘films don’t fail, budgets do’ (there’ll always be an audience for any film, provided it’s made, marketed, and sold within the right landing costs), and Dharma has cracked that winning formula better than most others.

Images Source: Dharma

Disclaimer: Our box-office figures have been compiled from reliable sources and our own extensive research, and are indicative of the film’s performance in the trade. However, Movified doesn’t claim any legitimacy over the accuracy of the data, and cannot be held responsible for any discrepancy in the same.

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