The overall business has surely taken a dip this year. Last year, the four weeks of September and the first week of October had its share of successes: BAGHBAN [hit], ZAMEEN [average to above average], MARKET [above average], JOGGERS' PARK [good at multiplexes] and KUCH NAA KAHO [better in Mumbai]. Plus, there was GANGAAJAL [hit] in the last week of August [released on August 29].
Now compare it with this year [films released in September and the first week of October]: RAKHT [flop], HUM KAUN HAI? [flop], DIL NE JISE APNA KAHAA [flop], EK SE BADHKAR EK [flop], TUMSA NAHIN DEKHA [flop], MADHOSHI [flop], DOBARA [flop], KING OF BOLLYWOOD [flop] in September and TAUBA TAUBA, AK 47, POPCORN KHAO! MAST HO JAO and SATYA BOL in the first week of October. Also, there was DHOOM [hit] in the last week of August this year, besides PHIR MILENGE [flop].
Yes, TAUBA TAUBA did manage an encouraging opening at several places and as things stand today, this reasonable priced film should prove to be a profitable venture for its distributors. As for POPCORN KHAO! MAST HO JAO, its fate was evident on the day of its release. SATYA BOL has won critical acclaim, but that hasn't translated into big collections. As for AK 47, it has some scope at smaller centres.
However, it goes without saying that the business in the last 35 days has been on a decline. Let's not blame the viewers for not thronging the cinema halls. The fault lies clearly within the industry. We haven't been able to churn out films that would entice the viewer.
Till as recent as June/July this year, the business showed an upward trend during the weekends. 70 to 80% occupancy in cinema halls on Saturdays/Sundays was a regular occurrence. But none of the recent releases have been able to set the cash registers jingling during the weekends, barring DHOOM. At some multiplexes, the occupancy rate has tumbled to as low as 20%, which does raise eyebrows.
"The Diwali week should bring cheer," a prominent multiplex owner tells me, "The biggies should draw in big crowds." At the moment, the film industry has pinned all hopes on VEER-ZAARA and AITRAAZ, the two major releases this Diwali. Then, of course, there's MUSAFIR, HULCHUL, AB TUMHARE HAWALE WATAN SATHIYO, BLACK, SWADES, ELAAN and KISNA till the year comes to a close.
Let's hope the tide changes for the better!