Winning critical acclaim is one thing. Raking in big money at the box-office is another. It's not right to mix the two. Let me come to the point right away. CHAK DE INDIA has won tremendous acclaim from all quarters. It's an amazing film in all respects. In fact, the makers deserve brownie points for making an unconventional film with the topmost star of Bollywood. But box-office is a different story altogetherâ€¦
CHAK DE INDIA started slow, picked up on Saturday and showed a jump on Sunday. At multiplexes of big centres, especially at Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore, the film has had a glorious weekend. But the subject and its execution limits it to big city audiences. It's not a film that holds universal appeal [a fact seconded by the Overseas figures]. That explains why its business at single screens ranges from average to below average.
Had CHAK DE INDIA embarked on a 90% + start everywhere [ideally, it should've started with a bang, given the fact that the two giants - YRF and SRK - had been teamed after a hiatus; it can't get bigger than that!] and with Saturday and Sunday figures matching those of Friday, CHAK DE INDIA would've been declared a massive Hit.
But CHAK DE INDIA started on a 40% - 60% note at several screens, but was 20% - 30% at several centres too. Reports from Punjab say that CHAK DE INDIA had a 10% - 20% start at some stations. Things did improve over the weekend, but Monday onwards, while the multiplexes of big centres are performing well [60% +], at centres like Indore [one of the key barometers], the collections at multiplexes on Monday were at par [or lower] with Friday. Have a quick look at the Indore figures -
Wednesday, 15th August being Independence Day holiday, CHAK DE INDIA got a big boost and the business at multiplexes was impressive.
So what's the final verdict on CHAK DE INDIA? It's good at multiplexes of big centres. In Mumbai, Delhi, Mysore and also a few circuits where multiplexes do contribute to the booty, it stands a good chance of raking in money. Also, it all depends on how it fares in its second weekend.
After watching KAAFILA a few days before its release, I recall telling one of its major distribution heads and also director Amitoj Maan to trim the film judiciously. The distribution head agreed with my viewpoint since he also felt that the film was lengthy and the message got diluted, but Amitoj had his reasons. Ideally, the length of any film shouldn't exceed 2 hours, but KAAFILA was taxing in terms of length and also in terms of its writing.
Although it highlighted a burning issue [illegal immigration], the film didn't cut ice with the paying public who watched it. The film had a shaky start and its business only went downhill as days progressed.
THE BLUE UMBRELLA, the third release, arrived without a bang and left without a whimper. Only those with zero knowledge of business would say that it got 'sandwiched' between CHAK DE INDIA and KAAFILA. THE BLUE UMBRELLA would've met with a similar fate had it arrived solo too, with no oppositions in the week.
Did you ask why? Where's the awareness? I remember telling Vishal Bhardwaj that the promotion was extremely low-key this time and he promptly called UTV to increase the quantity of promos. Yet, many outside the industry weren't even aware that a film called THE BLUE UMBRELLA had been made and released. Not that they were waiting with bated breath for the film to open, but a big push would've helped slightly.
THIS WEEK IN 2006
[Weekend: August 11-13, 2006]
The historic first week billing of KABHI ALVIDA NAA KEHNA was a slap on the faces of all 'soothsayers' who predicted doomsday for the film at the box-office. In fact, the record-breaking initial weekend and the holidays on weekdays had infused life in the veins of the distribution and exhibition sectors.
Let's get one thing straight! The 'reports' are one thing, the box-office outcome is another. It doesn't really matter what a section of the industry or audience feels about a film. We ought to respect everyone's opinion, whether good or bad, but let's not turn a blind eye to the business of a film. Looking at the high stakes today, when films are sold for millions of rupees, when survival is of paramount importance, who needs awards, five star ratings from reviewers and fake appreciation? We need box-office rewards!
KABHI ALVIDA NAA KEHNA fared exceedingly well at multiplexes. It was extra-ordinary at big centres, while its business was slightly lower at smaller towns. But the overall first week billing was superb.
THIS WEEK IN 2005
[Weekend: August 12-15, 2005; 4-day weekend]
MANGAL PANDEY - THE RISING had been the topic of discussion much before it hit the screens. Practically all news-channels focused on the epic on Friday, with updates on the film being beamed every single day. Newspapers and periodicals weren't far behind. Pro and anti-MANGAL PANDEY - THE RISING articles were in circulation ever since the film opened. Like it happens with all biggies, MANGAL PANDEY - THE RISING opened to a mixed response. Some liked the film, some didn't.
From the business point of view, MANGAL PANDEY - THE RISING had a great weekend. With multiplexes performing 12-15-18 shows a day and ticket rates ranging from Rs. 150 to Rs. 225, the first four days' business [Monday was a holiday] was mind-boggling everywhere, especially at big centres.
The collections generally come sliding down on weekdays and it happened with MANGAL PANDEY - THE RISING as well. The multiplexes in most parts of the country were steady, but the single screens did show a downward trend. Besides, with too many prints in circulation and multiple shows in each theatre, the collections had to register a drop on weekdays, which, frankly, didn't come as a surprise.
The second release of the week, DOUBLE CROSS - EK DHOKA, went completely unnoticed. Partly, due to the mighty opposition [MANGAL PANDEY - THE RISING]. To some extent, due to the lack of hype. Partially, due to the weak merits.
THIS WEEK IN 2004
[Weekend: August 6-8, 2004]
Certain films are 'red hot' within the industry. And as their release date draws closer, the speculation rises faster than mercury. The industry know-alls come up with all kinds of calculations vis-Ã -vis its opening, its first week billing, its overall businessâ€¦ But the paying public may not necessarily show the same enthusiasm. TAARZAN THE WONDER CAR was a classic example of this statement.
Directed by the masters of thrillers Abbas-Mustan, TAARZAN THE WONDER CAR was expected to fetch a roaring initial. Industry watchers expected it be another KOIâ€¦ MIL GAYA, but this wonder car ran out of fuel on its opening day itself. The film neither fared well at multiplexes, nor did it work at single screens.