Two weeks ago, a topnotch producer, who has just delivered a hit, narrated an interesting anecdote to me. I deem it fit to begin 'Business Talk' by sharing the amusing tale with you.
About a year ago, this producer had organized a pre-release screening of his previous film [also a laughathon] for one of his business friends. Once the screening ended and the anxious producer enquired how his business associate felt about the film, prompt came the reply, “Not too exciting.”
Notwithstanding the criticism by industrymen and critics, the film proved a profitable venture for the makers.
Back to the present! A few weeks ago, the producer invited the same gentleman to the pre-release screening of his new film. As usual, the producer raised the customary question, “How's the film?” The gentleman had a rather similar answer this time around. “Theek hain… Your earlier film was a masterpiece, us film ki baat hi kuch aur thhee… This one isn't half as exciting,” he answered.
What a contradiction… or let's say, quite a somersault!
In an industry that embraces new friends and changes opinions every Friday, depending on how successful your film is at the box-office, this particular incident really doesn't come as a surprise to me. Everything boils down to how your film has fared at the turnstiles. Nothing else matters!
Two years ago, Sanjay Gupta's KAANTE opened to an extremely mixed response, with a majority of the industry ripping it apart. But the box-office figures had a different story to tell. The b.o. collections of KAANTE did silence Gupta's 'well wishers' in due course…
Back to the present! MUSAFIR, Dutt and Gupta's latest outing, opened to a similar feedback from a section of the industry. But this time around, the same people who had criticized KAANTE were calling the film a classic and the present one with all kinds of names. Note the contradiction!
You ought to have a strong stomach to absorb a film like MUSAFIR. The film is in sharp contrast to what the Johars and Chopras have been attempting for a while now. It's again different from the saccharine-sweet romantic tales or the saas-bahu dramas that continue to dominate the small screen these days. MUSAFIR is a dark movie, with scant appeal for the family audiences.
But the audience is always ready for a change provided it is within commercial parameters. Despite limitations [dark film, 45 + heroes, sex and violence aplenty, 'A' certificate] and criticism aplenty [by industrymen and 'renowned' critics], MUSAFIR had a thunderous start at the box-office. The first three days at practically every centre was 90% +, which is phenomenal for a film of this genre. The collections slided downwards from Monday at multiplexes, but at single screen theatres, patronized by the masses, it's in the range of 70%-80% +.
Had the film been a sheer waste of time, the collections would've plummeted on Day 1 itself. The strong face-value does play an important part when it comes to attracting crowds outside cinema halls, but what eventually matters is the content. If the film is weak in content, the collections register a sharp fall in the evening shows on Day 1 itself.
With a terrific start, Gupta and Dutt have won half the battle. Yes, the response is mixed - the masses are loving the film, while the ladies haven't given it their whole-hearted approval. But let's not forget, the days of universal acceptance for any film are over. The tastes change/differ from region to region, from state to state. And what eventually matters is how attractive your balance sheet looks at the end of the day.
The second release - ROK SAKO TO ROK LO - had a lukewarm start, despite fantastic promotion undertaken by its producers. Perhaps, MUSAFIR and HULCHUL [still strong at multiplexes] were too strong an opposition.