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Amitabh Bachchan. Dharmendra. Sanjay Dutt. Suniel Shetty. Abhishek Bachchan. Dimple Kapadia. Bipasha Basu. Dino Morea.
Two eerie flicks starring the above-mentioned names hit the marquee last Friday. And both - RAKHT and HUM KAUN HAI? - proved a nightmare for their distributors.
Way back in the 1980s, in fact till the mid-1990s, films starring a majority of these names would've ensured a fabulous opening response. The 'Records' section of the trade mags would've been full of the city/theatre records in the opening week, irrespective of their fate at the box-office.
But 2004 has a different story to tell. Even if one were to combine the opening day collections of these two multi-starrers at most places, the percentage would still not touch 100%. I am serious!
While RAKHT at least managed a 40% to 60% opening at places, the response to HUM KAUN HAI? sent shock waves throughout the film industry. Its opening ranged from 7% to 10% at several cinema halls.
What can one attribute the dismal opening to? The promotion of RAKHT was quite low-key, while HUM KAUN HAI? came literally unannounced. The producers started promoting the product [HUM KAUN HAI?] barely 6-7 days before this desi version of THE OTHERS was to hit the screens. Naturally, even die-hard Bachchan fans weren't aware of this flick.
HUM KAUN HAI? has proved to be an eye-opener of sorts, especially for those who take three to six months to plan a project [pre-production], another six to eight months to execute it [filming], another two to four months for its post-production and then, when the censor print is ready, you just throw it in the market, without even giving it a proper month-and-a-half of promotion. Just not done!
Here, I'd like to give full marks to producers like Sajid Nadiadwala [MUJHSE SHAADI KAROGI], the Tauranis of Tips [FIDA] and Yashraj Films [DHOOM] who continue to [aggressively] promote their products even eight to ten weeks after they have been released and the verdict is loud and clear. Success and failure are two different sides of the coin, but at least make an earnest effort to give your best shot to something that has been a part of you for more than a year.
RAKHT too was not promoted extensively prior to its release. The film isn't bad, but it cut a sorry picture at the box-office because people weren't even aware that the film had released. Merely beaming song-based promos on television or splashing small ads in newspapers during the release week isn't enough. Surely, there's more to marketing than that!
Sadly, most producers undermine the strength of aggressive and right promotion. To this date, even a toothpaste brand has a fat budget to tell the world that they clean the teeth the brightest, no matter how strong their sales charts are.
It's a foregone conclusion that the distributors of RAKHT and HUM KAUN HAI? will be poorer by several lacs, but what haunts me is the alarming ratio of flops that continue to rise week after week. The ratio of flops is scarier than these spine chillers!