A big film carries the baggage of big expectations. Touted as the first blockbuster of 2007, SALAAM-E-ISHQ has failed to generate mass hysteria that’s associated with films of this magnitude.
What went wrong? A section of the industry blames the excessive length for its below-the-mark reception at the ticket window. That’s one of the reasons, not the prime reason.
The prime reason, as I see it, is that the film lacks the power to keep you focused on the screen. Let’s not get swayed by the gloss or the star line-up. When the lights are switched off and the reels begin to unfold, it’s the content that does the talking. In this case, the film relied more on star power than story power to woo the moviegoers.
The general feedback is negative. The reactions to the six stories are diverse. A section of moviegoers liked the Govinda-Shanon track. Some rooted for John-Vidya. A few singled out Akshaye-Ayesha. The feedback wasn’t completely positive and that went against it.
The length added to the woes. At several screens, people were staging a walkout even before the climax had begun. You’re bound to get restless. But length is secondary. Weren’t SHOLAY, MOHABBATEIN and HUM AAPKE HAIN KOUN super-successful despite 3 + hour narrative?
Did the trimming by 15-20 minutes help SALAAM-E-ISHQ? Not at all! Once the reports are out, any amount of last-minute attempt to salvage the situation turns out to be a futile exercise. Nikhil Advani should’ve trimmed the film by 40 minutes before its release, not after its release.
A reputed film-maker, who has a major release lined up next month, made a valid observation as we discussed SALAAM-E-ISHQ: If LOVE ACTUALLY could narrate ten separate stories [yes, 10] in 2.15 hours, why did it take Nikhil 3.30 hours to narrate six stories? Baat bilkul sahi hain!
Released on Thursday all over [except Mumbai city-suburbs], the film started on a slow note on Thursday, but was fantastic on Friday, 26th January. Saturday saw a sharp decline in business. The India-West Indies cricket match was blamed for the dent in collections. However, Sunday too wasn’t as expected. It should’ve been approx. 95% on the last day of the first weekend [Sunday], but… By the way, there was no cricket match happening on Sunday and no K.B.C. either!
Monday onwards, SALAAM-E-ISHQ dropped almost everywhere. As things stand today, the distributors of this heavily-priced film will lose a substantial chunk of their investment.
Let’s have a look at the day-wise response to SALAAM-E-ISHQ at Indore, considered the barometer by the film industry:
THIS WEEK IN 2006
[Weekend: January 27-29, 2006]
The mind-blowing start of the keenly anticipated RANG DE BASANTI, the final release of January, brought solace to an otherwise worried industry.
The hype surrounding RANG DE BASANTI was huge. The film had been sold for astronomical prices and not just the industry, even the common man was eagerly waiting for the film to arrive. And arrive it did with a bang. Released on a Thursday [January 26], to capitalize on the Republic Day holiday, the film took an electrifying, fantabulous, marvelous start everywhere.
At the end of the first weekend, the results were crystal clear: RANG DE BASANTI had done rocking business at multiplexes of Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Pune, Delhi, Kolkata and South, but was average at several mass-dominated screens. Yet, all said and done, the first week billing in the domestic market was huge for four factors:-
- The tremendous hype and the resultant marvelous start.
- The strong business at the multiplexes, which were performing 12-14-16 shows every day.
- The inflated ticket rates at most screens. At some screens, the ticket rates were as steep as Rs. 250 per seat.
- It wasn’t a 3-day, but a 4-day weekend.
THIS WEEK IN 2005
[Weekend: January 28-30, 2005]
The Ajay Devgan–Suniel Shetty starrer BLACKMAIL opened to a lukewarm response all over. The opening day figures ranged between 30% and 40% at several cinema halls across the country. In fact, BLACKMAIL is the third biggie in January [after KISNA and INSAN] to have had a dismal start, despite the presence of A-list stars.
The second release of the week, PADMASHREE LALOO PRASAD YADAV, also opened to a shockingly low response. Its opening was between 10% and 20% at several centres, the lowest for a Mahesh Manjrekar-directed film.
Nothing seemed to be working those days [except PAGE 3, which was doing excellent at multiplexes]. Not thrillers [ELAAN, BLACKMAIL, VAADA], not mindless action [INSAN], not crass comedy [P.L.P.Y.], not period drama [KISNA], not sex [ROG]… Frankly, the story of January 2005 was no different from that of January 2004.
THIS WEEK IN 2004
[Weekend: January 23-25, 2004]
What may be considered ‘hot’ within the film industry may not necessarily be ‘hot’ with the paying public. KHAKEE did not open to an earth-shattering response. The opening ranged between 90% and 100% at places, but was not as expected at several centres.
The colossal star cast of the film, besides the credibility of the star-director, should’ve ensured a massive opening for the film. The film should’ve set new records on its opening day/opening weekend. Also, let’s not forget, a week like this was a rarity. It wasn’t a 3-day weekend, it was a 4-day weekend, with Monday being a holiday as well [Republic Day]. What more could a producer ask for?
KHAKEE didn’t perform as expected. It fared well in certain parts of the country, but was not as strong at several places.
On the other hand, AETBAAR opened to a lukewarm response everywhere. A section of the industry was optimistic that the film might pick up on subsequent days, but nothing of the sort happened. May be, AETBAAR par audience ko aetbaar thha hi nahin!
I strongly feel that AETBAAR would’ve opened anywhere between 70% and 90% had it been a solo release. But the clash with KHAKEE proved quite expensive, with the film registering a record low opening for a Bachchan starrer.