We need a reality check. Most of us at least…
Most industrymen are often under the impression that big stars guarantee big bucks at the box-office. A few producers also feel that it's the stars that decide the fate of a film. For all those who think this way, the opening of FAMILY - TIES OF BLOOD and ZINDA should prove to be an eye-opener.
Amitabh Bachchan. Sanjay Dutt. Akshay Kumar. John Abraham. Lara Dutta. Celina Jaitley. Bhumika Chawla. Rajkumar Santoshi. Sanjay Gupta. If you calculate the money riding on the two films these impressive names were part of, it would be anywhere between Rs. 35 and Rs. 40 crores. But the sorry initial of the two films, despite holidays, came as a jolt.
Let's talk about FAMILY - TIES OF BLOOD first.
I was shocked, shaken and distressed when I viewed this Rajkumar Santoshi flick. Santoshi's films -- most of them at least -- have had an interesting story to tell, but this apology of a script [penned by Santoshi and Shridhar Raghavan] made me wonder whether the talented storyteller has lost his touch. The story seemed straight out of 1970s and 1980s and in today's times, when Hindi cinema is evolving rapidly and new stories are being churned out with amazing regularity, a film like FAMILY - TIES OF BLOOD is one big yawn. Without doubt, it's the weakest film in Santoshi's repertoire!
The box-office wasn't kind to FAMILY - TIES OF BLOOD at all. Despite the million dollar worth free publicity [when Big B fell ill, his films got a lot of mileage in the media] and the controversy surrounding it [Big B smoking a cigar], the film took a beating everywhere. The poor initial came as a rude shock to one and all within the industry. People were speechless. If this could happen to a biggie, imagine the fate of a medium or low-budget film.
Talking from the business point of view, FAMILY - TIES OF BLOOD has been sold for exorbitant prices and looking at the low turnout at the movieplexes, the film is sure to make its distributors poorer by a few crores.
That reminds me… January, perhaps, isn't too lucky for Keshu, the producer of FAMILY - TIES OF BLOOD. In 2005, the veteran producer released INSAN in the same week [read 'This Week, Last Year' below]. Even KHAKEE [released in January 2004] didn't find universal acceptance. And now it's FAMILY - TIES OF BLOOD.
ZINDA, on the other hand, charters a new path as far as its story is concerned. Also, it ranks amongst Sanjay Gupta's finest efforts. Having said that, I'd like to add that it's good to be innovative and ground-breaking, but you should experiment within certain parameters, keeping the Indian audiences in mind. That's where ZINDA falters.
The kind of film ZINDA is and the strong impact it creates, a section of the movie-going audience are bound to give it a cold shoulder. In my opinion, a film like ZINDA is way ahead of its times. And that's exactly what I told Gupta.
I reiterate, the problem with ZINDA lies in the fact that it caters to a niche audience. It's not for the ladies/families, not for the fairer sex at all. There's no denying that Gupta has worked hard on the film, but given the dry and dark theme of the film, besides a number of gruesome scenes, it's bound to feel the heat. And it did!
Expectedly, the business was slightly better at some multiplexes of Mumbai and Delhi as also parts of South India, but in several circuits, the dull start coupled with the fact that the film caters to a niche audience made a big dent in its business. However, the distributors of ZINDA are hopeful that the collections might pick up in the forthcoming days since there's no release this week.
THIS WEEK, LAST YEAR
[Weekend: January 14-16, 2005]
Under normal circumstances, a two-hero film starring sought-after names would generally fetch a 90% + start in the domestic market. Despite the presence of two dependable actors, Akshay Kumar and Ajay Devgan, besides well-known names such as Esha, Lara Dutta and Tusshar, INSAN couldn't generate even a 50% opening on Day 1 at several places.
Why did cinegoers accord a cold response to INSAN? When the promos of INSAN first went on air, the impact generated was zilch. On the contrary, the promos gave an impression that one of Akshay-Ajay's old films was being revived with a new title. Also, what did the two actors actually see in its script?
If the promos of INSAN sent out wrong signals, the promos of ELAAN generated tremendous hype and hoopla for this vendetta flick. But never judge a book by its cover!
Everyone was hoping that ELAAN would fetch a record-breaking start at the box-office, but nothing of the sort happened. ELAAN opened to a below-the-mark response at some halls, while at places it enjoyed a good response. But the reports weren't encouraging and that threw a spanner.
The problem with ELAAN is, it's high on hype and hard sell, but low on substance and material. Perhaps, director Vikram Bhatt wanted to give the Indian audiences a desi film with an international feel. He did succeed to an extent, but the film ran out of steam in the post-interval portions.