Highest grossing Indian film earned Rs 3650 crore when adjusted for inflation; it's not Sholay, Baahubali, Dangal, Jawan

This film, which released over 60 years ago, earned Rs 11 crore at the time, which comes out to Rs 3650 crore in today's terms.

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K Asif, the director of Mughal-e-Azam (Image: IMDb)

It wasn’t long ago that a domestic gross of Rs 100 crore was considered a benchmark for successful films. Now, many big films are touching ths Rs 1000-crore mark worldwide. This has, of course, been possible largely beause of rising ticket prices due to inflation. The footfalls have not increased as much. In fact, if earnings of older Indian blockbusters are adjusted for inflation, they dwarf the collections of all modern hits. The biggest of them earned an astoinding Rs 3650 crore worldwide.

Highest grossing Indian film adjusted for inflation is...

K Asif’s magnum opus Mughal-e-Azam was released in 1960 after spending almost a decade in production with two sets of cast. The film was a massive hit, earning Rs 11 crore worldwide, an unheard-of number in days when ticket prices were only Rs 1.50 and there were very few theatres across India. If adjusted for inflation for 2023, the amount comes out to Rs 3650 crore, higher than any other Indian film ever. Mughal-e-Azam was a sensation upon its release. The demand for tickets was so high that many were sold in black for as high as Rs 100 (around Rs 4000 today).

Other highest-grossing Indian films adjusted for inflation

Mughal-e-Azam is clearly the winner when it comes to highest grossing Indian films ever, with the only release exceeding Rs 3000 crore in inflation-adjusted gross. It is followed in the list by Ramesh Sippy’s Sholay, which has an adjusted gross of Rs 2800 crore. Aamir Khan’s Dangal rounds off the top three with an inflation-adjusted gross of Rs 2650 crore. Four other films notionally cross the 2000-crore mark when their earnings are adjusted for inflation - Baahubali 2: The Conclusion (Rs 2170 crore), Mother India (Rs 2120 crore), Hum Aapke Hain Kaun (Rs 2100 crore), and Dilwale Dulhania Le Jaayenge (Rs 2000 crore).

The methodolgy used to arrive at these figures

In this article, we have used several sources, including past reports from business publications like Forbes, The Hindu, Mint, and Business Standard. It also takes into account inflation and exchange rate changes of major currencies like dollar, pound, rouble, euro and yuan (territories where Indian films have historically done very well). We have also referenced peer-reviewed articles from University of British Columbia that charted historical exchange rates and inflation. This, combined, gives us an estimate of how much a film’s earnings are likely to increase over time. For instance, a film released in 1960 will see its earnings increased by 300-350 times by 2023, but for a film releasing in the mid-90s, the increase would be 8-10 times.

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