Good things come in small packages. And the package tour promised in HONEYMOON TRAVELS PVT. LTD. more than lived up to my expectations when I watched it last week. The good news is, this small film [in terms of canvas and face-value] has created ripples at the ticket window.
Two years ago, during the first G.I.F.A. Awards in Dubai, the banquet hall of Hyatt was abuzz with the news of Madhur Bhandarkar’s PAGE 3 making Page 1 news in India. Released in the same week as Subhash Ghai’s KISNA, Madhur’s take on the social butterflies was the topic of conversation in Dubai then.
Something similar happened this week! Not just the industry people but also the non-film crowd I bumped into had a good word for HONEYMOON TRAVELS PVT. LTD. No, it’s not path-breaking cinema, it’s not the best multiplex film ever made, it’s not an eye-opener by any yardstick, yet this feel-good film keeps your attention arrested for the next two hours.
Mani Ratnam [YUVA], Ramgopal Varma [DARNA MANA HAI, DARNA ZAROORI HAI], Khalid Mohamed [SILSIILAY], Samar Khan [KUCHH MEETHA HO JAYE], Naseeruddin Shah [YUN HOTA TO KYA HOTA… WHAT IF?] and Nikhil Advani [SALAAM-E-ISHQ] failed to narrate multiple stories in their films, but debutante Reema Kagti’s simple yet captivating narrative received a positive nod from the multiplex junta.
The promos had already created a strong buzz. The popularity of the song ‘Sajnaji Vaari Vaari’ only added to the curiosity. And every time the talkie promo of the film flashed on the tube, you couldn’t take your eyes off from the goings-on. I reiterate what I’ve said all along, the promos are the deciding factors these days. But after the first show concludes, it’s the content that does the talking.
Also, I’d like to give full marks to the producers of this movie -- Ritesh Sidhwani and Farhan Akhtar. To repose faith in a new director, cast actors [not stars] and opt for an experimental plotline after making three big-budget films [DIL CHAHTA HAI, LAKSHYA, DON] requires courage and guts. Most importantly, the producer duo gave the film a respectable release like any of their big-budget productions, promoting the film to the optimum.
That’s not all, Ritesh and Farhan saw to it that the film had an extensive release. Four days prior to its release, Ritesh called to say that he was proud of the film and that he was giving it a 200 + print release [excl. Digital prints; exceptional for a low-budget film]. That made wise business sense!
HONEYMOON TRAVELS PVT. LTD. gathered speed on Day 1 itself. The opening was best at multiplexes of Mumbai and Delhi and also South [as predicted in our review]; the business showed an upward trend in the evening shows. Saturday was excellent, especially in Mumbai. Ditto for Sunday. Sanjay Ghai, who controls a majority of multiplexes in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, was equally euphoric. He attributes the success to the content as also the popularity of the song ‘Sajnaji Vaari Vaari’.
Bangalore and Hyderabad/Aurangabad multiplexes were strong as well, while the business at Indore multiplexes was steady in its opening weekend.
All said, HONEYMOON TRAVELS PVT. LTD. should fetch profits in territories where multiplexes contribute to the booty!
THIS WEEK IN 2006
[Weekend: February 24-26, 2006]
For four continuous weeks, RANG DE BASANTI had a dream run at the multiplexes. The collections of this UTV-produced film at metros were nothing short of a miracle, considering the fact that most films turn powerless after a power-packed opening weekend.
But TAXI NO. 9211, the new release distributed by UTV, made a dent in the business of RANG DE BASANTI at multiplexes this weekend. The Nana-John starrer didn’t fetch a record-breaking start like RANG DE BASANTI, but the business of this moderately-priced film ranged from 50% + [North] to 70% + [Mumbai] at multiplexes.
With a majority of recent releases, post RANG DE BASANTI, not catching the attention of the paying public, the collections of TAXI NO. 9211 brought a smile to the face of multiplex owners, who were losing sleep after a few recent releases drew a complete blank at the ticket counters.
The second release, HUMKO TUMSE PYAAR HAI, was given a royal ignore by the paying public. In fact, the collections of this love story were pathetic at several screens, with multiplexes performing poorly than single screens. You may find this hard to believe, but the management of a leading multiplex in Mumbai was forced to cancel a show or two due to lack of audience. That’s not all, the collections of the film were in the range of 3% to 5% in certain shows.
Another film that went completely unnoticed was SUN ZARRA. Not that anyone was expecting this love story to create any magic whatsoever, but the low-key publicity and unsung release went against the film completely.
THIS WEEK IN 2005
[Weekend: February 25-27, 2005]
Dharmesh Darshan must’ve heaved a sigh of relief. After the lukewarm start of his last release, HAAN… MAINE BHI PYAAR KIYA, the director had to prove the cynics and detractors that RAJA HINDUSTANI was no fluke.
The opening of BEWAFAA, his new release, ranged from excellent to good average and the opening weekend was in the range of 90% + at most centres. But Monday onwards, the collections started sliding downwards at several stations.
One of the key factors that went against the film was the absence of strong emotions in the latter half. While the film was holding well in Gujarat, Rajasthan and parts of Uttar Pradesh, the drop in the collections at several places was more pronounced.
THIS WEEK IN 2004
[Weekend: February 20-22, 2004]
The tally of box-office duds kept piling up. The two new releases -- KISMAT and TUM? -- weren’t expected to change the fortunes any way. KISMAT relied on the archaic formula that the viewers had witnessed since time immemorial. It brought back memories of the cliché-ridden plots attempted in the 1970s, which have been cycled and recycled in the years gone by.
But one did expect TUM? to be a different fare in view of the fact that director Aruna Raje had strived to deliver daringly different cinema in the past. However, it was akin to watching two disjointed stories in the garb of a single film. Sadly, neither were the hot scenes between Manisha and the two men in her life [Karan Nath, Rajat Kapoor] exciting enough, nor did the whodunit drama in the second half keep you on the edge.