One of the many ever-raging debates in Bollywood is about which is the biggest blockbuster ever? Recent reports say it is the Shah Rukh Khan starrer Chennai Express, but old-timers insist that they haven't seen anything that mesmerised the nation since K Asif's Mughal-e-Azam. Many like me, for so long held on to the belief that it had to be the one that had 'the greatest star cast ever assembled' and 'the greatest story ever told' - Sholay, hoping that inflation adjustments would prove us right.
All that changed for me when I was through with executing the elaborate set of formulae on an Excel sheet full of data sourced from the Wholesale Price Index since 1939 and domestic box office collections from BoxOfficeIndia.com. I had adjusted the figures for inflation (keeping 1939 as the base) and reached the conclusion that would make Aamir Khan belief in Aal izz well, all the more strong. Not Sholay, not Mughal-e-Azam, not even Chennai Express, 3 Idiots remains Bollywood's biggest hit ever in India when the prices are brought at par. And old-timers were also not very off the mark, Mughal-e-Azam was huge at its time, given that the population of the country was also significantly lower. The Rohit Shetty directed film has a good 50 crores to gather before it can trump Rajkumar Hirani's on this inflation-adjusted list.
(Note: While BoxOfficeIndia.com provides inflation adjusted figures, they don't quite add up and therefore we took a more accepted approach for our calculations)