The Akshay Kumar starrer Pad Man released earlier this year. Directed by R. Balki the film received positive reviews across the board from the audience and critics alike. While the film itself was a rather well made film with a valuable social message the business of the film despite the praise and adulation has stagnated at Rs. 80 crore. We at Bollywood Hungama caught up with a few known names in the film trade and business analysis market to gain a better understanding of why exactly, a film as appreciated as Pad Man did not cross the Rs. 100 crore mark.
Starting off, film critic and trade analyst Amod Mehra, firmly states that Pad Man was a good film and did excellent business at the box office. “Firstly it isn’t a law that every film of Akshay Kumar should do business of Rs. 100 crores at the box office. Pad Man was and is a very different film, the subject matter of the film was a taboo to talk about, and yet the same topic has been addressed and the film made Rs. 80 crores. I think this Rs. 80 cr is similar to doing a business of Rs. 800 crores, because that is the worth of what the film did.” Further dissecting the logic of a film being termed as a box office success only after it achieves a benchmark Mehra adds, “If a film achieves a Rs. 100 cr. at the box office it does not mean it is a hit. You have to look at the budget of the film and then analyse if it was a profitable venture, based on this a film can become a hit.”
However, continuing on further, Amod Mehra, though avoids citing particular reasons for Pad Man not being able to achieve Rs. 100 cr, he does state, “The merits of the film weren’t that great, there were quite a few slow and dull moments, but Pad Man was a topical film and it was so well received that it managed to do such business. Also if you see it was not really a family film that you would take your kids to watch. Now, the minute a film does not cater to a family audience you are losing out on a major section of the audience. Another aspect is that Pad Man was never a film meant for the single screens. It was meant for multiplex going audience in metro cities and as per my views it has done extra ordinary business.”
On the other hand film trade analyst and Complete Cinema Editor in chief, Atul Mohan has a different take on the box office success of Pad Man. Explaining his point, Mohan goes on to state that the film was targeted at the multiplex going audience, but given the premise of the film, the basic idea was to educate those in tier two and three cities. This disconnect, between the idea and the marketing, according to Mohan has affected the collections. “If you look at the marketing of Pad Man it was aimed at capturing the audience on social platforms and the multiplex going audience in metro cities. However, the idea of the film was to educate the masses across the country. Now the marketing campaign did not really target the main audience of the film and this is why a portion of the business was lost out.”
But, it wasn’t the targeting alone that affected the business of Pad Man. Treading a similar path as Amod Mehra, Atul Mohan too cites the fact that since the film did not really cater to a family audience and the fact that the topic was and is a taboo subject in India, a major portion of the audience was negated. This negation of mass dominated areas that greatly bolster collections is another reason why the collections of Pad Man have stagnated at Rs. 80 cr, claims Mohan.
Giving us a slightly different perspective, film exhibitor Akshaye Rathi adds, “I think it was the misdirected marketing and promotion of the film that cost the makers at the box office. Given that Pad Man was targeted at the tier two and tier three cities and audience in rural areas opting for a campaign on Twitter and other social media platforms narrowed the approach to the audience in metros. Now instead, if Akshay Kumar had featured on a local vernacular magazine that is popular among the women in rural areas it would have added an extra layer of promotion that captured the audience in rural areas. I think had this been done, the film could easily have earned another Rs. 10-15 cr. more at the box office.”
Along with this, Rathi put forth another theory that holds water, “Another point is that Pad Man came almost immediately after Toilet – Ek Prem Katha. Now both films featured Akshay Kumar and both films also had relevant social messages told in a similar story line. Had there been a wider gap between their releases with an altogether different Akshay Kumar starrer like a Housefull 4 released in-between it would have been better. The reason I say this is because you have to understand, the audience is tired watching the same thing over and over again, if a joke is told a certain way every time eventually people stop laughing. Had both these points, the marketing/publicity of the film and the timed release been taken into account I think Pad Man could well have earned Rs. 110-115 cr.”