My very first assignment as a cub reporter in ‘Trade Guide’ was an interview with Manmohan Desai at his Khetwadi office at Grant Road, Mumbai, a few months before the release of NASEEB . Acknowledged by one and all as the badshaah of masala entertainers, I was intrigued by the kind of cinema M.K.D. made then. No matter who starred in his films, the moviegoers across the country would wait with bated breath for his films to hit the marquee. I remember asking him a pertinent question then: What is it that drives people to his movies?
“I guess, I am lucky,” Man-ji [as he was affectionately called] smiled, but on a more serious note, gave an equally relevant answer, “I am a man of the masses. My movies try to transport the middle class segment of moviegoers to a world of make-believe. To a world they may’ve dreamed of, but haven’t achieved. I sell dreams.”
Not much has changed in Bollywood. Escapist cinema continues to rule the box-office charts even today. Only thing, Hindi movies have become far more stylish and visually enticing. Entertainment continues to be the first priority when a moviegoer saunters into a cineplex to this date. From SHOLAY, DHARAM-VEER, NASEEB and AMAR AKBAR ANTHONY in the 1970s and 1980s to films like KRRISH and DHOOM 2, Hindi cinema is unique because it packs in so much in those two/three hours. Mainly, loads of escapism!
2006: BEST OPENERS
It’s that time of the year when people get into the analyzing mode and discuss the highs and lows of the year. Although the year 2006 hasn’t ended yet and the expectations from BAABUL, KABUL EXPRESS and BHAGAM BHAG are tremendous, you can’t deny that the year has been very kind to the Hindi film industry. Not only did we witness a plethora of hits, even the volume of business sky-rocketed beyond belief.
While an exhaustive survey of 2006 with proper facts and figures would follow in the next few weeks, here’s a quick reminder of the best opener[s] in each month:
- January: RANG DE BASANTI;
- February: TAXI NO. 9211, AKSAR;
- March: MALAMAAL WEEKLY;
- April: GANGSTER [momentum from Saturday/Sunday];
- May: FANAA, 36 CHINA TOWN;
- June: KRRISH, PHIR HERA PHERI;
- July: GOLMAAL – FUN UNLIMITED [momentum from Saturday/Sunday];
- August: KABHI ALVIDA NAA KEHNA;
- September: LAGE RAHO MUNNABHAI;
- October: DON;
- November: DHOOM 2, VIVAH, CASINO ROYALE.
Note: Not all films mentioned above were universal successes. The list is only a reminder of the best openers.
In the Overseas territory, KABHI ALVIDA NAA KEHNA is the undisputed No. 1 hit in the major markets.
The cynics predicted doomsday for DHOOM 2. Let me quote the pessimists: “DHOOM 2 would crash and collapse on Day 2 [Saturday].” They changed their tune and said Day 4 [Monday] would spell trouble at the ticket window. It changed to Day 6 [Wednesday] gradually. Then Day 8 [Friday] subsequently. But DHOOM 2 continues to take rapid strides and has galloped its way to success. The second weekend -- on the same number of prints and the same number of shows -- was extremely heartening [70%-80%-90%]. The pessimists? They’re now singing a different tune, praising the business to the skies. If you can’t beat them, join them!
2006 has been a great year for Yash Raj. First FANAA hit the bull’s eye. Weeks later, the two distribution acquisitions, KRRISH and KABHI ALVIDA NAA KEHNA, proved major successes. And now DHOOM 2. Will 2006 end on an equally prosperous note with KABUL EXPRESS?
The sole new release, WITH LUV… TUMHAARA, wasn’t expected to be a potent performer at the box-office and its thanda outcome elicited no shock response of a positive or negative kind.
THIS WEEK IN 2005
[Weekend: December 2-4, 2005]
If the low-key response to DEEWANE HUYE PAAGAL sent shock waves from East to West and North to South last week, two of the three films that opened this week only added to the woes of a worried industry. The Friday witnessed the release of three films, all produced by A-list names: Prakash Jha [APAHARAN], Percept Picture Company [HOME DELIVERY] and Ramgopal Varma [MR. YA MISS].
APAHARAN had the best opening of the three. While the opening in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar was decent, the initial response at other parts of the country ranged from average to below average. Businesswise, if the collections at some single screens were impressive, the film was plain average/below average at several multiplexes. It was a study in contrast!
As for HOME DELIVERY, the negative reports were evident on Thursday night itself [premiere screening]. In my 25-year career as a film journalist, I’ve rarely come across a film that garnered such negativity soon after the first screening had ended. Even the common man was so vocal… To state that the collections of HOME DELIVERY were apologetic would be putting it mildly. Businesswise, HOME DELIVERY is one of the biggest setbacks of 2005. And its failure doesn’t come as a surprise at all.
The business of the third release, MR. YA MISS, was in the same league as HOME DELIVERY. At places slightly better, at places at par, at places lower. But both were sailing in the same boat.
THIS WEEK IN 2004
[Weekend: December 3-5, 2004]
With the week witnessing no release, Priyadarshan’s Akshaye-Kareena starrer HULCHUL got an open run for the second consecutive week. Meanwhile, Yash Raj’s VEER-ZAARA continued to hold sway in Overseas. In fact, the theatrical business in Overseas was so big [the film had already grossed Rs. 25.5 crores from just two markets -- U.S.A. and U.K.] that the production house was, quite expectedly, feeling on top of the world.