The frenzy and flurry brought back memories of the Diwali week, when two or more keenly anticipated films clash on the same Friday. Only thing, this wasn't the Diwali week. It wasn't one of those weeks with multiple holidays either. But the three releases in the fray -- APNE, AWARAPAN and AAP KAA SURROOR -- sent the temperatures soaring, mobile phones ringing and tongues wagging. Sure, this was no ordinary week.
Each of them was expected to change the fortunes of people associated with these movies. The Deol parivaar had teamed with their favorite Anil Sharma for a paarivaarik film. Another parivaar -- the Bhatts -- were banking on their ghar ke bachche [Emraan, director Mohit Suri] to give them a solid hit. â€œIt's the best film I've produced,â€ Mukesh Bhatt roared on my TV show a fortnight ago. Himesh too had teamed up with his bachpan ka dost, director Prashant Chadha, to cement his career as an actor.
Really, not just money, but a lot of careers were at stake this Friday. Besides, each of them were emotionally attached to their film.
The moment the shows commenced on Day 1, not APNE or AWARAPAN, but AAP KAA SURROOR stole the march. Everyone knew that AAP KAA SURROOR, backed by solid promotion, would fetch a promising start, but the packed-to-capacity shows from East to West and from North to South came as a shocker. The electrifying start caught the industry unaware. At places, the start was at par with KRRISH and DHOOM 2. At places, better.
Actually, the industry was stunned by the reception accorded to Himesh Reshammiya. What attracted viewers in hordes towards AAP KAA SURROOR? The curiosity to watch HR on the big screen? The popular musical score? The terrific promotion? Himesh's kismet? A topnotch director's answer set me thinking: â€œHe's one of them [common man] and to see him on the big screen was a big high. His ordinary lineage worked to his advantage.â€ True observation!
AAP KAA SURROOR maintained very well across the country on Saturday and Sunday. The film has fared well at multiplexes, but is exceptional at single screens and also at all mass-dominated centres. There's no denying that the omnipotent AAP KAA SURROOR wave made a dent in the business of APNE and AWARAPAN. â€œWe under-estimated the fan-following of Himesh,â€ Mahesh Bhatt told me on Sunday night. APNE director Anil Sharma called from San Francisco and also expressed similar feelings, on Sunday night.
While the business did decline on Tuesday and Wednesday at some centres, the first week billing is expected to be phenomenal in every circuit. For someone who was sporting a serious look all the while, not smiling even once, he must be laughing the loudest today. And also the distributors of his film, who'd be laughing all the way to the bank.
Now APNE. I genuinely feel Anil Sharma is in form in APNE. My only problem with the film is its unnecessary length. What could've been narrated in a concise format of 2 hours was stretched to 2.50 hours. The talented director should've trimmed certain portions judiciously. In fact, I voiced my displeasure vis-Ã -vis its length at the private screening of the film, much before its release.
Expectedly, APNE had a heartening start in North India, but was slow at several centres. The AAP KAA SURROOR wave had affected its opening. Also, family films never fetch a solid start like hardcore masala / action films do. Saturday and Sunday showed a rise, although the business was severely affected in Mumbai and Gujarat due to heavy rains.
As things stand today, the film should earn profits from the Northern circuits [Delhi-U.P., Punjab, Rajasthan], but in some circuits, it's a wait-n-watch situation. If the film sustains in its second weekend, it would've overcome the odds.
AWARAPAN was the worst hit. It was the third choice, after AAP KAA SURROOR and APNE. I kept telling Mukesh Bhatt, Mohit Suri and Emraan Hashmi that releasing the film a week later would've only helped. But the producer was told by his distributors that they'd managed the best chain of theatres and if postponed by a week, it might prove disadvantageous for the film.
Let's not get into who said what, but the fact remains that AWARAPAN hasn't lived up to the expectations. It deserved a better release, it deserved a better fate.
THIS WEEK IN 2006
[Weekend: June 30-July 2, 2006]
The first half of 2006 had ended and the mood in the film industry was upbeat thanks to the three major successes in the last one month [FANAA, PHIR HERA PHERI, KRRISH]. With a number of biggies lined up in the next six months [GOLMAAL, OMKARA, ANTHONY KAUN HAI?, KABHI ALVIDA NAA KEHNA, NAKSHA, AAP KI KHATIR, LAGE RAHO MUNNABHAI, KABUL EXPRESS, UMRAO JAAN, DHOOM 2, DON, VIVAH, BABUL, JAAN-E-MANN] and a number of talked-about medium-budget films also making their way into movieplexes, the domestic box-office was only going to witness a major boom.
Approx. Rs. 400 crores was riding on the above-named films. The dream merchants had woken up to the fact that content is the king in the current scenario. With emphasis on story, stars and promotion [in that order], the business was sure to escalate in weeks to come.
THIS WEEK IN 2005
[Weekend: July 1-3, 2005]
After the not-too-exciting response to his last release NAACH, RGV's SARKAR emerged a success story at the domestic box-office, silencing his detractors yet again. I would attribute the success to two factors basically: RGV's execution of the story and the power-packed performances.
SARKAR generated tremendous heat prior to its release. The distributors were excited, so were the exhibitors, who screened the film in 10 to 12 shows a day [at multiplexes]. YAKEEN, the other new release, was sidelined to 2 shows a day at some multiplexes.
While SARKAR had a 90% + start at major centres, YAKEEN failed to garner respectable figures from Day 1 itself. The opening ranged from 15%-25% at some places, but at several cinema halls, it registered a shockingly poor start of 10%.
Frankly speaking, there was no buzz for YAKEEN prior to its release and the fact that it was being released alongside SARKAR as also the fact that the pirated version of the film was out prior to its release, made a further dent in its business.
THIS WEEK IN 2004
[Weekend: June 25-27, 2004]
The last week of June witnessed the release of the third Big B starrer in a row, DEEWAAR. While the much-hyped film was expected to take a fantabulous start everywhere, the opening ranged from exciting to mediocre to lukewarm in several parts of the country.
DEEWAAR had everything going in its favor -- a robust star cast, a producer who makes films with passion and promotes it with equal zeal, aggressive promotion prior to its release, a theme that hadn't been attempted on Hindi screen before. But man proposes, God disposes!