Bollywood Box Office Update

By Taran Adarsh, IndiaFMimageSummer has set in, but it’s frosty at the Indian box-office. The ratio of flops continues to escalate. Last week, NISHABD and NEHLLE PE DEHLLA and this week, RED – THE DARK SIDE, 1971, WATER and SARHAD PAAR have only made the industry poorer by a few crores.

Let’s get to the root cause right away. Why has business touched rock-bottom? Is cricket [World Cup] responsible for the chaotic scenario? Or has the examination period made a dent in film business? Are multiple releases week after week stepping onto each other’s toes?

Exactly one month ago, I had raised a pertinent issue vis-à-vis the spate of releases in the coming weeks. Over a period of time, I dissuaded some producers, in a subtle way, against clashing with one another. No one stands to benefit with clashes, but will we ever learn from our mistakes?

Most producers feel that their film is SHOLAY, while the rest are chhole. It’s the other producer who needs to fear. But I have hardcore numbers to prove that most clashes have only resulted in crashes.

BUSINESS TURNS ‘RED’

Let’s talk of RED – THE DARK SIDE. Last year, the Himesh Reshammiya – skin show combo [AKSAR] resulted in the film fetching an excellent start at the box-office. But RED – THE DARK SIDE — despite fantastic promotion + Himesh Reshammiya’s popular score + skin show/smooches in abundance — failed to take off. The industry was flummoxed. Ideally, the film should’ve embarked on a 50% + start at multiplexes, but the collections were dismal.

What added to the woes was the negative feedback. And the collections fell on Day 2 [Saturday]. Sunday was slightly better [not optimum], but Monday and Tuesday cut a sorry picture. Vikram Bhatt stands to lose the maximum. Also Aftab Shivdasani. He shouldn’t accept solo hero assignments. Barring SRK, Aamir Khan and Hrithik Roshan, none of the actors can pull off a winning initial.

IN HOT ‘WATERS’

The below-the-mark response to WATER proves yet again that Oscars or any of those fair/unfair awards hold zilch value when it comes to Indian box-office. These awards boost one’s ego, not the box-office collections. Despite the million dollar publicity it generated when it reached the Top 5 in Oscars, WATER couldn’t whip a frenzy in India.

The business at a few multiplexes was in the range of 20%-30% during the weekend, but is that enough? It’s a great film, no doubt, but it’s not the type that would appeal to all sections of moviegoers.

SUPER-FLOP

Almost three years ago, during the I.I.F.A. weekend in Singapore, I distinctly remember attending the press meet of SARHAD PAAR. In fact, four Sanjay Dutt starrers — MUSAFIR, RAKHT, TANGO CHARLIE and SARHAD PAAR — were showcased and unveiled to the global media for the first time. The film was slated for release that year!

While the first three films have already come and gone, SARHAD PAAR had an unsung release last Friday. The film had been delayed for various reasons and the release date kept getting shifted frequently. The final nail was director Raman Kumar’s statement on the day of its release, calling it an incomplete film.

The film fell even before it could rise!

PLEASANT SURPRISE

I was apprehensive when I walked into Adlabs’ preview theatre at Film City to watch 1971 four days before its release. Indo-Pak themes are passé, in fact a couple of them had left me squirming in my seat. But 1971 is one of the finest films in this genre. I only suggested two things to its distributors Studio 18 as well as debutante director Amrit Sagar. One, they ought to increase its promotion. Two, the film deserves to be tax-exempted [as a result, the ticket prices are reduced], so that more and more people watch the film.

A lot of people I know weren’t keen on watching 1971 because the last few ‘war films’ had caused more harm than help. 1971 was the sole release that had a strong word of mouth, but the appreciation didn’t translate into great business. Sad!

THIS WEEK IN 2006 [Weekend: March 10-12, 2006]

Priyadarshan’s laughathon MALAMAAL WEEKLY was the weekend’s top viewed movie, replacing TAXI NO. 9211 [it held the position for two consecutive weeks] at the Top 5 charts. The expectations from MALAMAAL WEEKLY weren’t high, thanks to the absence of a big league hero in its cast. It relied more on characters [Paresh Rawal, Om Puri, Asrani, Rajpal Yadav] to attract footfalls at movieplexes. And the gamble paid off, with the film fetching a positive start at the ticket window.

What went in its favor was the fact that the paying public was thirsting for a good entertainer since the past few weeks. Barring AKSAR and TAXI NO. 9211, a number of prominent films released from February to date lacked the stamina to stand on their feet.

There weren’t expectations from the other openers, JIGYAASA and MR. 100% – THE REAL PLAYER. Therefore, the flaccid opening didn’t come as a surprise. While JIGYAASA made an attempt to portray the inside view of Bollywood, MR. 100% – THE REAL PLAYER portrayed the life of a gigolo and his sexual encounters. The similarity was the generous dose of skin show, but even that failed to lure their target audience.

THIS WEEK IN 2005 [Weekend: March 11-13, 2005]

While watching the John Abraham – Priyanka Chopra starrer KARAM, what caught my attention was the way debutante director Sanjay F. Gupta had filmed a couple of sequences. But KARAM suffered in that one department that is the lifeline of all films — the script. And the best of efforts go unnoticed if the screenplay is not cohesive enough.

KARAM had a lukewarm start at most places. And with the passage of days, the collections continued to dwindle. The failure of KARAM should serve as an eye-opener to all those debutantes who give more emphasis to technique than content.

THIS WEEK IN 2004 [Weekend: March 5-7, 2004]

The pre-Holi week is always considered dull within the film industry and the opening of the three films [INSAAF – THE JUSTICE, LOVE IN NEPAL and MISSION MUMBAI] only proved the notion right yet again. Both INSAAF – THE JUSTICE and LOVE IN NEPAL weren’t released with much fanfare. In fact, in the case of LOVE IN NEPAL, the promos had been on air for months, but the release date kept getting postponed because the producer wasn’t ready to risk his film with two/three biggies in a week.

As for INSAAF – THE JUSTICE, despite the fact that the film starred known names [Dino Morea, Sanjay Suri, Namrata Shirodkar], its promotion was least thrilling. The promo is an indicator of things to follow, they say. Neither was the promotion of INSAAF – THE JUSTICE aggressive enough, nor were the promos tempting enough to lure the audiences.

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