When was the last time a film [repeat, any film] enjoyed unanimously and universally positive reports? SHOLAY? It was scorned. HUM AAPKE HAIN KOUN? It was ridiculed. VEER-ZAARA? It was written off. NO ENTRY? It was scoffed at. FANAA? It was sneered at. PHIR HERA PHERI? It was derided. KRRISH? It was mocked at.
Now KABHI ALVIDA NAA KEHNA faces the flak. So what's new? Nothing. It's the same old story. The moment a big film hits the screens, a section of the film industry [also include some pseudo journos with zero knowledge of film-making and business] has a constipated look on their faces. Text messages degrading the film fly left, right and centre. 'It wouldn't sustain beyond Friday', 'Bakwas hain', 'The director has lost it', 'Paisa kamaya, par reputation khatam'… Haven't we heard all this and more [the nastiest of talk] before? Let's not forget, a tree which bears fruits is always stoned. Jo hain naamwala, wohi to badnaam hain.
But the paying public knows what's best for them…
The 'reports' are one thing, the box-office outcome is another. It doesn't really matter what a section of the industry or audience feels about a film. We ought to respect everyone's opinion, whether good or bad, but let's not turn a blind eye to the business of a film. Looking at the high stakes today, when films are sold for millions of rupees, when survival is of paramount importance, who needs awards, five star ratings from reviewers who only have an eye for dark films/art house cinema and fake appreciation? We need box-office rewards!
The historic first week billing of KABHI ALVIDA NAA KEHNA is a slap on the faces of all 'soothsayers' who predicted doomsday for the film at the box-office. In fact, the record-breaking initial weekend and the holidays on weekdays has infused life all over again in the veins of the distribution and exhibition sectors.
KABHI ALVIDA NAA KEHNA is a sign of progressive cinema. After my review on the film appeared on IndiaFM two days before the release, a few 'well wishers' of Karan Johar sounded so low over the phone as though they had just returned from a funeral. In fact, a prominent producer had the gall to tell me, “Aisi progressive filmein Hindustan mein kabhi nahin chal sakti. Its rejection is certain.” Imagine, no one from the industry had even watched the film, but were abusing it nonetheless.
Why are we so skeptical when it comes to embracing bold themes? Why should Hindi cinema be confined to those three/four stories that are as old as the hills? Why shouldn't we welcome changes? And when a film dares to defy the stereotype and works at the ticket window, shouldn't we feel euphoric?
Back to KABHI ALVIDA NAA KEHNA business. The film is doing exceedingly well, with business at an all-time high at multiplexes. It's extra-ordinary at big centres, while its business is slightly lower at smaller towns. But the overall first week billing is superb.
Relax Karan, it's the time to disco!
THIS WEEK, LAST YEAR
[Weekend: August 12-15, 2005; 4-day weekend]
MANGAL PANDEY - THE RISING had been the topic of discussion much before it hit the screens. Practically all news-channels focused on the epic on Friday, with updates on the film being beamed every single day. Newspapers and periodicals weren't far behind. Pro and anti-MANGAL PANDEY - THE RISING articles were in circulation ever since the film opened.
The craze for MANGAL PANDEY - THE RISING was unparalleled, at par with VEER-ZAARA. Since most conversations veered towards Aamir's new release after a 4-year sabbatical, cinelovers were curious to know whether the film would live up to the gargantuan expectations.
Like it happens with all biggies, MANGAL PANDEY - THE RISING opened to a mixed response. Some liked the film, some didn't. A section of the audience found the first half better, but a segment loved the post-interval portions more.
From the business point of view, MANGAL PANDEY - THE RISING had a great weekend. With multiplexes performing 12-15-18 shows a day and ticket rates ranging from Rs. 150 to Rs. 225, the first four days' business [Monday was a holiday] was mind-boggling everywhere, especially at big centres.
The collections come sliding down on weekdays and it happened with MANGAL PANDEY - THE RISING as well. The multiplexes in most parts of the country were still steady, but the single screens did show a downward trend. Besides, with too many prints in circulation and multiple shows in each theatre, the collections had to register a drop on weekdays, which, frankly, didn't come as a surprise.
The second release of the week, DOUBLE CROSS - EK DHOKA, went completely unnoticed. Partly, due to the mighty opposition [MANGAL PANDEY - THE RISING]. To some extent, due to the lack of hype. Partially, due to the weak merits.