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‘Baabul’ – Reason behind slow start!

By Bollywood Hungama

Soon after Sanjay Gupta and Balaji Telefilms announced their collaboration at G.I.F.A. Awards in Kuala Lumpur, Ramesh Sippy -- one of the prominent and respected distributors of Mumbai [brother-in-law of Jeetendra] and who’s heading the production wing of Balaji Telefilms -- made a valid observation about family films, as we discussed BAABUL.

“Why do we raise eyebrows when family films have a slow start at the box-office? It’s a known fact that films belonging to this genre never start with a bang,” Sippy told me, recalling an incident that occurred almost three decades ago, “We released MAANG BHARO SAJANA in the Diwali week and despite a formidable star cast [Jeetendra, Rekha, Moushumi], the film had a 50% start in Mumbai. Those days, the films picked up after two/three days, if strong in merits. Today, it’s after a week or two that they gather momentum. Didn’t BAGHBAN sprint towards super-success only after two weeks?”

Actually, the conversation veered towards paarivarik films because someone casually mentioned that BAABUL had opened to a 40%-70% start in the domestic market. Ideally, a film starring Bachchan, Salman, John and Rani and produced by a premier production house [B.R. Films] should’ve ensured a 90% + start, but the target audience of socials -- ladies/families -- takes to these films gradually.

Like Sippy rightly pointed out, “There was no television then [referring to the Jeetendra phase of socials in 1970s and early 1980s], but there’s a plethora of saas-bahu serials on TV today. There’s abundant choice at the click of a button.”

Is a 40%-70% start for a film like BAABUL considered thanda? Not really! But BAABUL comes at a time when DHOOM 2 is still going strong [yes, the third week is also rocking; it’s a sure-shot blockbuster] and VIVAH is exceptional [on the whole, super-hit; blockbuster in Bihar]. If that’s not enough, there’s KABUL EXPRESS this Friday and BHAGAM BHAG next Friday. Really tough competition!

BAABUL performed very well on Saturday and Sunday [75%-90%], but the film slipped from Monday onwards. While the decline in business was substantial in some pockets, the film faced a steep fall in certain sectors. Tuesday and Wednesday also saw the collections going downhill. What really surprises me is that the word of mouth is positive, but it hasn’t really translated into big collections.

Will BAABUL go the BAGHBAN way? Knowing that family films take time to gather momentum, we’ll have to wait and watch how the film fares in its second weekend. But, as of now, BAABUL stands on a shaky stool!



WHAT TRANSPARENCY?

Participating for a television discussion the other day with a noted banker and a leading industrialist, the anchor person asked me a pertinent question: Is there complete transparency in the film industry today? I repeated what I’ve been saying all along: Nope! With corporates entering the fray and investing millions in the industry, the Hindi film industry is on the road to transparency, but it’s not 100% transparent yet.

Even today, only a producer knows what his actual budget is. Can any other person, barring the producer, give us a rupee and paisa account in detail, right till the last aana spent in the making of a film? Conversely, can any producer, who has actually created a film, know the day-wise and show-wise response to his film across the length and breadth of the country? I doubt!

So what transparency are we talking about?

That brings me to another pertinent issue! The other day, someone mailed me a link of a supposedly business article that said that DHOOM 2 did a business of Rs. 34 crores in its first week and Rs. 23.5 crores in the second week. Hmmm, what do I say? Today, I feel, every person can become a trade analyst by throwing random figures in the air.

Perhaps, DHOOM 2 actually did that kind of business. Perhaps, it has crossed Rs. 65 crores in two weeks. Or, may be, Rs. 75 crores. Kehne mein kya harz hai…

In fact, I was the first person to mention [outside Yash Raj] in my review itself that DHOOM 2 is a blockbuster all the way. But can we please, please, please have the breakdown of facts-n-figures -- circuit-wise / city-wise / theatre-wise? Chalo, maan liya, the figures are accurate, but on what basis have people jumped to this figure [Rs. 54 crores +]? And what are the shares from major circuits? Kindly enlighten us!

A section of the [irresponsible] media has often spread malicious stories vis-à-vis film financing and star fees. My only request to these ‘trade pandits’ is not to add fuel to fire by indulging in horrendous reporting. If you have come up with these figures, kindly enlighten our producers and distributors of the breakdown of facts-n-figures in each circuit. Believe me, you’d be doing a big favor to the industry.



THIS WEEK IN 2005

[Weekend: December 9-11, 2005]

Like last week, all three films this week [December 9] -- EK AJNABEE, NEAL 'N' NIKKI and KALYUG -- were produced by A-list names [Bunty-Jaspreet Walia, Yash Raj, Mahesh-Mukesh Bhatt, respectively] and backed by an impressive pre-release campaign [qualitatively and quantitatively]. But, unfortunately, none of the three films notched a great start anywhere.

Going by their impressive track record and the loyal fans they’ve cultivated over the years, everyone was more than hopeful that Yash Raj’s NEAL 'N' NIKKI would fetch the best start everywhere. In fact, the film had an edge over its competitors thanks to the eye-catching promos that were on air for quite some time now. Strangely, the paying public wasn’t too enthusiastic. And the audience reaction and negative reviews sealed its prospects further.

Everyone was more than confident that EK AJNABEE would garner an electrifying start considering the free publicity the film had garnered over the past two weeks, thanks to Big B’s illness. But, again, the audience response to EK AJNABEE wasn’t as expected. Despite encouraging reports, the desi version of MAN ON FIRE didn’t really set the box-office afire.

KALYUG was the dark horse. Everyone expected it to embark on a poor start, considering that it was pitted against two powerful oppositions. But the business of KALYUG, expectedly, showed a rise at several movieplexes across the nation. The film did have a shaky start at several places, but it consolidated its status even before Day 1 came to a close.



THIS WEEK IN 2004

[Weekend: December 10-12, 2004]

You ought to have a strong stomach to absorb a film like MUSAFIR. The film, in sharp contrast to what the Johars and Chopras have been attempting, stated on a great note everywhere. Despite limitations [dark film, 45 + heroes, sex and violence aplenty, ‘A’ certificate] and criticism aplenty [by industrymen and ‘renowned’ critics], MUSAFIR had a thunderous start at the box-office.

The first three days at practically every centre was 90% +, which is phenomenal for a film of this genre. The collections slided downwards from Monday at multiplexes, but at single screen theatres, patronized by the masses, it was in the range of 70%-80% +.

The second release -- ROK SAKO TO ROK LO -- had a lukewarm start, despite fantastic promotion undertaken by its producers. Perhaps, MUSAFIR and HULCHUL [still strong at multiplexes] were too strong an opposition.

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