In the 1970s, Amitabh Bachchan ruled the roost and every film starring the superstar opened to a phenomenal response at the box-office. During that phase, ALAAP, starring the hotshot combination of Big B-Rekha, opened to a below-the-mark response. Quite obviously, it sent shock waves throughout the industry.
In the 1980s, Yash Chopra's keenly anticipated film after CHANDNI, called LAMHE, didn't register much heat. LAMHE boasted of the super-successful Yash Chopra-Sridevi combo and everyone was expecting the film to fetch a rousing start. But it didn't!
Last Friday, the much-in-news PAHELI, starring the country's biggest star, SRK [who also produced this folklore] and co-starring a host of impressive names [Big B, Rani Mukerji, Suniel Shetty, Juhi Chawla], didn't open to a stupendous response at many places. The opening ranged from excellent to fairly good at multiplexes, but at single screens in Mumbai as well as at several stations across the country, the initial was not befitting a biggie.
Of course, when a movie doesn't open to a desired response, the blame-game begins instantly. It happened with PAHELI as well. From SRK's moustache to the heavy downpour [the release of the film coincided with the onset of monsoons] to the not-too-exciting promos to the offbeat nature of the film, the industry was quick to point out reasons that could've been responsible for the not-too-strong opening.
Blaming the heavy rains for the slow start of the film is looking for an excuse. I can cite innumerable instances of films braving the monsoons or the chilly winter and yet grossing wonderful collections. Nor can you blame SRK's moustache for the non-response to the film. Can a moustache or a earring or a shoelace make or break a film? Really, some industry watchers need to grow up and get real.
Also, the argument that the youth brigade prefers SRK in a contemporary film holds no weight simply because SRK's DEVDAS, which was set in the pre-independence era, with the actor sporting a dhoti-kurta throughout, also opened to a thunderous response.
Let's just say that the paying public wasn't too excited about PAHELI. Or, perhaps, the hardcore masses had realized, even before the film hit the marquee, that PAHELI was not their idea of entertainment.
From the business point of view, PAHELI grossed encouraging figures in Mumbai, Delhi, Rajasthan and South circuits in its opening weekend. The Mumbai distributor informs me that the film grossed [approx.] Rs. 68 lacs on Friday, [approx.] Rs. 73 lacs on Saturday and [approx.] Rs. 82 lacs on Sunday in the entire Mumbai circuit.
Now let's compare it with MAIN HOON NA and MUJHSE SHAADI KAROGI, also distributed by the same distribution concern in Mumbai. In its opening weekend, PAHELI grossed [approx.] Rs. 2.25 crores, MAIN HOON NA grossed [approx.] Rs. 2.29 crores and MUJHSE SHAADI KAROGI grossed [approx.] Rs. 2.35 crores. The comparative study clearly indicates that PAHELI had an excellent weekend in Mumbai circuit. But Monday onwards, the collections of the film started sliding downwards and at several multiplexes, the fall was anywhere between 25% and 40%.
As things stand today, PAHELI may prove to be a safe bet in some circuits, but the universal acceptance that SRK's previous films like MAIN HOON NA and VEER-ZAARA attained, is ruled out.