Soon after I'd watched DARNA ZAROORI HAI, helmed by multiple directors, Sajid Khan [who directed the introductory story in the film] called to enquire what I felt about the film. â€œPowerless,â€ I told him pointblank, since I never hide my reactions, â€œBut the execution of your story was interesting.â€ In those 8/10 minutes, I admit, Sajid's work left an impression on me.
So when I checked into HEYY BABYY, his first major outing, I was sure that the film would make sense. And, of course, make me laugh.
If you know Sajid, you'd know that humor comes naturally to him. And wit is his second name. But the one aspect that caught me off-guard completely was the deft handling of the emotional sequences. I'd like to answer those who feel that the melodrama wasn't required. It was required. Who are we making Hindi films for? The Indian audiences primarily, right? So why run down everything that masala films have to offer?
HEYY BABYY is a smartly packaged film. It has something for everyone. It pleases the kids, the youth, the families, the masses. And that's what seems to have worked. If you visit any cineplex, you'd find an assorted crowd, very much like the one witnessed during PARTNER.
HEYY BABYY started on a wonderful note. The occupancy at multiplexes was excellent [80% - 90%], while smaller towns were in the range of 60% - 70%. Saturday was rock-steady, while the Sunday figures â€œbrought back memories of PARTNER,â€ two prominent distributors, who've distributed both PARTNER and HEYY BABYY, excitedly mentioned to me.
Armed with a fantastic weekend, the film remained steady at most places on Monday [was affected due to the cricket match partly], but picked up again on Tuesday [Raksha Bandhan]. As things stand today, the investors are sure to recover their monies [despite high pricing] and make profits as well. And that, in today's times, is no small achievement.
For the two Sajids [Nadiadwala, Khan], it's time to celebrate. Or have the celebrations begun already?
WHAT WENT WRONG?
I've always maintained that making a qualitative film isn't enough. Ensuring that the promotion is optimum and choosing the right outlets to screen the film and the right screening timings are of equal importance. KAISAY KAHEIN is a fair attempt, but it suffered due to the above-mentioned reasons.
The promotion was low-key, in fact not many people were aware that the film had released. Also, the film was found lacking in the music department -- so vital for a love story. Raj Kapoor's BOBBY, Rajendra Kumar's LOVE STORY, Mansoor Khan's QAYAMAT SE QAYAMAT TAK and Sooraj R. Barjatya's MAINE PYAR KIYA, can we ever forget the everlasting melodies of these prem kahanis?
THIS WEEK IN 2006
[Weekend: August 25-27, 2006]
Dharmesh Darshan's new outing AAP KI KHATIR proved a major disappointment. A failure as a film, as a business proposition. Released two weeks after KABHI ALVIDA NAA KEHNA and with no major opposition alongside, the opening numbers of AAP KI KHATIR should've been in the range of 85% +. But no one expected the film to cut a sorry picture, with shockingly low collections.
The desi adaptation of THE WEDDING DATE started on a disappointing 30% + note, but went downhill on Day 1 itself. The evening and night shows plummeted to 20% +, which was a clear indicator that the film had been rejected.
What went wrong? Sure, Dharmesh was saddled with a poor script, but even the direction left a lot to be desired. A couple of well executed sequences aren't enough; the film has to appeal in its entirety. Even if the content is strictly average but is backed by a solid climax, it helps. Alas, AAP KI KHATIR faltered big time in its second hour, with the penultimate reels looking like one bad dream.
As for the second release SANDWICH, this supposedly comic caper proved to be a bad joke for its backers.
THIS WEEK IN 2005
[Weekend: August 26-28, 2005]
The uncertainty over the release of Boney Kapoor's biggie NO ENTRY made big news. That the film wouldn't make it to theatres on August 26 spread like wild fire, even as Boney was involved in serious discussions with his creditors. There was panic within the industry. As a result, when the delivery of prints commenced from Wednesday night/Thursday morning, the industry realized that the film would make it in the scheduled week, although the prints wouldn't reach everywhere on Friday.
The prints of NO ENTRY didn't reach major centres of the country till Saturday. But the harm had been done by then. Confused that the release had been cancelled/called off, not many people sauntered into movieplexes to watch NO ENTRY on Friday. In fact, the Friday collections ranged between 30%-50% almost everywhere. The dull opening of NO ENTRY did catch the industry unaware, although everyone agreed that it had everything to do with the confusing signals sent out [vis-Ã -vis its release], not its merits.
Saturday onwards, the film gathered momentum and by Saturday evening, the verdict was loud and clear: NO ENTRY had stormed into people's hearts.
The second release of the week, IQBAL, had a slow and steady rise over the weekend. Nagesh Kukunoor's much-acclaimed film opened to an astonishingly low 15%-25% on Friday, climbed to 60% by Saturday evening and was 70% + on Sunday at major multiplexes.
The glowing reviews in the media and the all-round appreciation by the discerning moviegoers helped the film consolidate its status over the weekend at metros mainly. The strong word of mouth helped tremendously and despite a huge opposition like NO ENTRY, this Subhash Ghai-produced film attracted ample footfalls at multiplexes.
As for the third release, BHAGGMATI - THE QUEEN OF FORTUNES, it was a commercial and critical disappointment from the word 'Go'.
THIS WEEK IN 2004
[Weekend: August 20-22, 2004]
Now this is extremely strange! Almost every newspaper/magazine/television channel/website had carried umpteen reports on real life pairs making their first screen appearances in a film project. Resultantly, the films -- KYUN! HO GAYA NAâ€¦ [Vivek, Aishwarya] and FIDA [Shahid, Kareena] -- made big news prior to their theatrical release. But big news may not necessarily translate into big openings at the ticket window.
While the Vivek-Ash prem katha proved to be a disaster, the Shahid-Kareena twist-in-the-tale FIDA opened to a much better response. If the opening of this thriller was exciting at multiplexes of Mumbai, Delhi and Jaipur, its initial at several cinema halls across the country didn't live up to the humungous expectations.
Despite tremendous hype and brouhaha encircling the film, despite the curiosity to watch the real-life jodi on screen for the first time, despite million dollar-worth free publicity in the media [thanks to the pairing], despite incredible promos, despite fantastic pre-release promotion by the Tauranis, what really came as a surprise was the fact that FIDA opened to a much below-the-mark response at several cinema halls. Shocking, but true!