Pooja Entertainment Faces Financial Crisis, Sells Mumbai Office to Settle Debts

Mumbai, 24th June 2024: When producer Vashu Bhagnani embarked on the production of Bade Miyan Chote Miyan starring Akshay Kumar and Tiger Shroff, he held high expectations for the film. Directed by Ali Abbas Zafar, the action-packed movie was crafted with a substantial budget of Rs 350 crore and generated significant anticipation before its release. Unfortunately, upon hitting theatres, the film proved to be a major disappointment at the box office, marking yet another setback for Bhagnani’s Pooja Entertainment following previous unsuccessful ventures. Recent reports reveal that Bhagnani had to sell off his Mumbai office to settle a debt amounting to Rs 250 crore. Additionally, in a bid to recover from substantial financial losses, the production house drastically downsized its workforce, letting go of nearly 80% of its employees and relocating operations to a modest two-bedroom apartment in Mumbai, according to Bollywood Hungama.

The downsizing initiatives commenced in January, triggered by the shelving of a Tiger Shroff project that had struggled for two years to secure a theatrical release. As per sources cited by Bollywood Hungama, financial troubles began to surface prominently after the box office failure of Bell Bottom, one of the earliest Hindi films to release post the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021. Subsequent setbacks included the underperformance of Mission Raniganj and the rejection of the big-budget film Ganapath by Netflix despite an acquisition deal. These challenges exacerbated existing financial strains, exacerbated by the substantial investment in Bade Miyan Chote Miyan. Despite hopes that the action-packed feature starring Akshay Kumar and Tiger Shroff would bolster their financial standing, its significant commercial failure severely impacted the company, compelling Vashu Bhagnani to part ways with the office building to settle debts.

Established in 1986, Pooja Entertainment has produced approximately 40 films to date. The production house achieved notable success with films directed by David Dhawan, including Coolie No.1, Hero No.1, Biwi No.1, and Bade Miyan Chote Miyan, as well as critically acclaimed movies such as Rehnaa Hai Terre Dil Mein and Om Jai Jagadish. However, recent box office disappointments have overshadowed its earlier accomplishments.

Following the disappointing performance of Bade Miyan Chote Miyan, which grossed only Rs 59.17 crore despite a Rs 350 crore investment, Pooja Entertainment faced criticism for delayed payments to several crew members. Expressing their frustration on Instagram, crew members like Vaishnavi Palikar highlighted issues of overdue payments, underscoring the disparity in treatment between actors and crew.

Ruchika Kamble, echoing Palikar’s sentiments, called out Bhagnani, Jackky Bhagnani, and Deepshika Deshmukh for their failure to promptly compensate employees. She emphasized the ethical responsibility of production houses to manage budgets responsibly and ensure timely payments to all crew members involved in film productions.