I happened to watch MANGAL PANDEY - THE RISING at a private screening on Thursday noon, before the Asian premiere of this film was organized at the swanky Inox multiplex in South Mumbai. No sooner did the screening get over, a prominent producer [who had seen me entering the auditorium for the screening] called to enquire: 'Sab mangal hai?'
MANGAL PANDEY - THE RISING had been the topic of discussion much before it hit the screens. And now that the film has opened to an overwhelming response, the film continues to make news. 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 have been in circulation ever since the film opened worldwide this Friday.
The film industry has also been monitoring its day-to-day business with a magnifying glass. Text messages have been flying left, right and centre since its premiere screening on Thursday night. Clearly, MANGAL PANDEY - THE RISING has caught everyone's fancy in India.
So if people enquire 'Sab mangal hai?', there are ample reasons for it --
- An Aamir Khan film after almost four years. Isn't that reason enough?
- A section of the industry is of the opinion that historicals don't work anymore, so will MANGAL PANDEY - THE RISING break the jinx?
- The stakes are high. The film, a lavishly-mounted epic, is an expensive proposition, talking from the economics point of view.
- The film has had the widest release ever for a Bollywood film. Reportedly, the film is being screened at 1000 + screens worldwide.
2005 has witnessed a good flow of biggies, including those made by Subhash Ghai [KISNA], Sanjay Leela Bhansali [BLACK], Dharmesh Darshan [BEWAFAA], T-Series [LUCKY - NO TIME FOR LOVE], Vipul Shah [WAQT - THE RACE AGAINST TIME], Karan Johar [KAAL], Rahul Rawail [JO BOLE SO NIHAAL], Yash Raj [BUNTY AUR BABLI], Vidhu Vinod Chopra [PARINEETA], SRK [PAHELI], Ramgopal Varma [SARKAR], Nitin Manmohan [DUS], David Dhawan [MAINE PYAAR KYUN KIYA] and Big B [VIRUDDH].
But the craze for MANGAL PANDEY - THE RISING was unparalleled, at par with last year's VEER-ZAARA. Since most conversations veered towards Aamir and his 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. Everyone has an opinion and we need to respect that.
FIRST 4 DAYS: HISTORIC
From the business point of view, MANGAL PANDEY - THE RISING has had the best weekend this year. 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.
Irrespective of what the so-called soothsayers had to say, the first week shares of MANGAL PANDEY - THE RISING from every circuit in India is expected to be unprecedented thanks to: [a] The historic first 4 days, [b] The inflated ticket rates and [c] The extensive release strategy, which paid off in a big way.
Like it happens with all films, 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, should not come as a surprise or misconstrued as a setback.
SECOND WEEKEND: CRUCIAL
While the first week shares are expected to be superb, the real test for MANGAL PANDEY - THE RISING begins from its second week. Friday, August 19 is Raksha Bandhan and Saturday, August 20 is Parsi New Year, so MANGAL PANDEY - THE RISING gets an additional weekend to consolidate its status. But there're two oppositions as well [BARSAAT, MY WIFE'S MURDER], on the other hand. It's a wait and watch phase right now!
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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.