The verdict is out!
TA RA RUM PUM, the keenly anticipated Yash Raj movie, hasn't lived up to the humungous expectations. With so many aces up its sleeve [the Numero Uno production house's impressive track record + an attractive star cast + the vacation period], TA RA RUM PUM was expected to take the box-office by storm. But the forecast went wrong. There were no thunder showers, only mild drizzle here and there.
On Thursday night [a day before its worldwide release], a special screening of TA RA RUM PUM was held at the swanky Yash Raj preview theatre. Attended by a few stars [Rani Mukerji, Preity Zinta, Aftab Shivdasani, Dino Morea] and topnotch film-makers [Vipul Shah, Madhur Bhandarkar, Rahul Rawail, Vashu Bhagnani, David Dhawan, Ritesh Sidhwani], the mood was upbeat and the feedback, overwhelming. TA RA RUM PUM was expected to add to the tally of hits produced by the revered production house.
But the Friday numbers came as a rude shock. The dismal opening at single screens and the below the mark response at multiplexes made people rub their eyes in disbelief. When a prominent North distributor/exhibitor enlightened me with the numbers, I was speechless for a minute. Mumbai and Delhi multiplexes were better, but the numbers should've been consistent everywhere.
A section of the industry blames the poor music for its dull start. There's another section that feels that the promotion was low-key this time. A tiny segment is of the opinion that the title is misleading. I don't subscribe to any of these theories.
I can cite [innumerable] instances of films fetching a big start despite lack of good music or promotion. Difficult-to-comprehend titles still attract audience attention. Almost two decades ago, a sizable section of the industry felt that N. Chandra had chosen a wrong title in PRATIGHAAT. 'Does anyone know what it means?' a top financier sounded upset. But PRATIGHAAT opened to packed houses and emerged a big success, silencing the cynics and pessimists.
Similarly, placing the responsibility on the musical score is foolhardy. After the super-success of SAAJAN, the combination of producer Sudhakar Bokade, director Lawrence D'Souza and music composers Nadeem-Shravan were confident that their new film SAPNE SAAJAN KE would emerge a far bigger hit thanks to its chartbusting music, but the film was greeted with empty halls everywhere. If music was the important factor to fetch a ground-breaking opening, then SAPNE SAAJAN KE and so many films that boasted of great music should've rewritten box-office records.
TA RA RUM PUM improved at Mumbai and Delhi multiplexes on Saturday, but at places like Indore, the film fell on Day 2 even at multiplexes [the World Cup finals made a dent towards evening and night shows]. The collections improved on Sunday everywhere since the word of mouth has been positive. Monday was steady at multiplexes, but remained dull at single screens, while Tuesday was better in Maharashtra [1st May was a holiday].
So what's the final verdict? The business is clearly divided. The film is good at multiplexes, but weak/poor at single screens. That Yash Raj has spent a fortune on making [production cost] and giving it an extensive release [prints, promotion expenses] cannot be denied. But the production house will have to depend on the revenue from Overseas, Satellite and Home Video rights and also business from metros and mini-metros to cover its costs.
The next weekend is crucial again. Will TA RA RUM PUM sustain at multiplexes or will SPIDER-MAN 3 [releasing simultaneously in India in Hindi, Bhojpuri, Tamil, Telugu and English versions] vanquish the oppositions, only time will tell.
THIS WEEK IN 2006
[Weekend: April 28-30, 2006]
Diverse films, varied outcome. Vying for audience attention this week were RGV's DARNA ZAROORI HAI, Mahesh and Mukesh Bhatt's GANGSTER and the talked-about Aishwarya Rai starrer THE MISTRESS OF SPICES. While the horror story [DARNA ZAROORI HAI] met with a horrifying fate at the box-office, GANGSTER, armed with great reviews and a strong word of mouth, gathered momentum gradually, while THE MISTRESS OF SPICES turned out to be a monumental disaster.
THIS WEEK IN 2005
[Weekend: April 29-May 1, 2005]
KAAL opened to a fantabulous start everywhere, confirming the fact that this Karan Johar-SRK joint venture had taken the best start after VEER-ZAARA. KAAL had a major advantage in its length [2 hours] and with the movie running to packed houses on the first three days, the distributors made a killing in its opening weekend.
Incidentally, KAAL had a far bigger opening than K3G. The strategy of releasing the film with a good number of prints  proved a wise move for its investors.
THIS WEEK IN 2004
[Weekend: April 23-25, 2004]
BARDAASHT may have worked in the late 1990s, when rehashed versions of GHAYAL were finding flavor with viewers, but this Bobby Deol starrer found no takers thanks to its oft-repeated plot. BARDAASHT also suffered because its routine promos failed to create a buzz for the film. Besides, the failure of KISMAT, also starring Bobby, also contributed to its dull opening.
The second release, SHAADI KA LADDOO, also drew a blank at the ticket window.