I distinctly remember writing an editorial at the beginning of a new year, a few years ago. I had asked a pertinent question in that article: Why did the Hindi film industry enjoy a 70% [Hit] - 30% [Flop] ratio in 1970s? Recall those days when the reigning superstars [Amitabh Bachchan, Dharmendra, Rajesh Khanna, Shashi Kapoor, Vinod Khanna, Shatrughan Sinha, Rishi Kapoor] had 8-10 releases every year and most of them would prove money spinners at the box-office.
Things began to change in the 1990s when several stars got into the mad race of working in 40-50-60 films at any given time. They used to dole out dates to film-makers like they were offering prasad to devotees. Several actors would shoot for 5-6 films in a single day [yes, you read it right!], till the film industry decided to impose a '12-film ceiling' to curb this unprofessional conduct.
Aamir Khan was the first to observe self-restraint. At that time, I remember, rival actors scoffed at him. Wasn't he being too choosy when the mantra was make hay while the sun shines? Slowly, other actors realized the importance of working in limited films at one time, choosing the right story and working with the right set of film-makers.
I genuinely feel that it's the dawn of a new era. The month of January 2011 endorses this viewpoint. NO ONE KILLED JESSICA [release date: 7 Jan] highlighted a true incident, YAMLA PAGLA DEEWANA [14 Jan] was an out-and-out entertainer, a mazedaar masala film, DHOBI GHAT [21 Jan] was art house cinema and DIL TOH BACCHA HAI JI [28 Jan] is a slice of life comedy, on the lines of Hrishikesh Mukherjee and Basu Chatterjee's films. Four diverse films in four different weeks and all have found acceptance by the avid moviegoer. Wow!
Recall at least one year in last twenty years when the Hindi film industry witnessed Hits/Profitable Ventures in four consecutive weeks? Let's hope the celebrations spill over to February.
Box-office is most unpredictable. A few months ago, the Ajay-Emraan starrer ONCE UPON A TIME IN MUMBAAI fetched a good start at the ticket window and also found a place in the 'Hits of 2010' when the year was analyzed. This combo's next offering, DIL TOH BACCHA HAI JI, helmed by Madhur Bhandarkar, started on a slow note, but picked up towards noon and evening shows on Friday. I agree, given the number of prints in circulation and the solo release status, the weekend numbers should've been more [at least Rs. 20 cr]. But not to worry!
The question is, why does ONCE UPON A TIME IN MUMBAAI fetch a good opening and DIL TOH BACCHA HAI JI doesn't? The former was backed by Pritam's excellent musical score, while the same composer couldn't recreate the magic with DIL TOH BACCHA HAI JI. That could be one of the reasons. Another reason, a top notch distributor tells me, is that the 'Adults Only' certification kept a big chunk of the audience away. I agree!
There' no denying that DIL TOH BACCHA HAI JI is a well-made film and the audience feedback is positive as well. In terms of box-office performance, this is one of those films that started slowly, but is maintaining its pace on weekdays with decent figures, unlike some films that arrived with a bang, but dipped drastically on weekdays.
However, the investors backing DIL TOH BACCHA HAI JI have made decent profits already. The total cost is Rs. 28 cr [which includes P & A expenses], of which Rs. 16 cr has been recovered from the sale of Satellite Rights, while Rs. 2 cr has been recovered from Music Rights. The film has been sold to various distributors for handsome prices and at the rate the film is faring [it's steady on weekdays], the amounts invested should be recovered comfortably.