Sajid Khan has always had a tough time when it comes to building a rapport with film critics. As a matter of fact, Sajid and the critics have been on the opposite sides of the fence. Always. Having said that, despite largely negative reviews, his previous ventures, HEYY BABYY, HOUSEFULL and HOUSEFULL-2, were success stories at the box-office. However, you are measured by your last Friday here. In film industry parlance, it all boils down to Hit hain to Fit hain. Sajid's last release, HIMMATWALA, was not only panned by critics, but even the junta tore the film to shreds. A box-office debacle of epic proportions, its failure left Sajid wondering what went wrong. Overnight, HIMMATWALA eroded his brand equity that he had painstakingly built over the years and questions were raised on his abilities as a storyteller. Shaken by the debacle, Sajid proceeded back to the genre he was most comfortable in -- comedy. He launched HUMSHAKALS.
Frankly, no film is easy to make. But conceptualizing and executing HUMSHAKALS is indeed tough. I've always felt that making people laugh is a herculean task. With Sajid casting the three lead actors of HUMSHAKALS in triple roles, besides opting for a large cast in key characters, he had to deliver this time. HUMSHAKALS was crucial for not just Sajid or producer Vashu Bhagnani, but for Saif Ali Khan too, who hadn't tasted success after RACE-2. While GO GOA GONE wasn't riding on his shoulders, BULLETT RAJA was and the disastrous fate of this film must've given Saif sleepless nights.
Fox Star gave HUMSHAKALS a wide release in India and also in the international markets [525 screens in 40 countries]. While the reviews were outright negative and the backlash on the social media was indescribable, the paying public wasn't as dismissive, which was clearly evident as the opening day progressed. The business multiplied during the evening/night shows and the film garnered a respectable total as Day 1 ended. The negative word of mouth notwithstanding, the film maintained rock-steady figures on Day 2, but the film was on firm footing on Sunday.
What does one attribute an impressive weekend total to, despite negativity surrounding the film? Varied factors:
a] The business is, generally, showing an upward trend these days and films backed by reputed names stand a good chance of opening well at the ticket window.
b] The genre [comedy] is known to attract a sizeable chunk of patrons. After all, it's all about entertainment, entertainment and entertainment these days.
c] A fairly impressive star cast does lure patrons to cineplexes most of the times.
d] No major release in the marquee [HOLIDAY has been relegated to a few screens/shows in its third week].
Nonetheless, the real test for HUMSHAKALS begins from Monday onwards. The film has just one-week open run before the keenly-anticipated EK VILLAIN, the Hollywood biggie TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION and the much-awaited Punjabi film PUNJAB 1984 hits the screens next Friday. That's not all, HUMSHAKALS is an expensive film and the film will have to perform consistently well on weekdays to post a more-than-respectable total to cover costs. It's a wait-and-watch situation right now!