It was one crucial week. For the industry as well as for the three directors [Apoorva Lakhia, Arjun Sablok, Mohit Suri], who were waiting for the verdict on their second outing [coincidentally, all three films happen to be their second film ventures]. Naturally, the three names were chewing their nails in anxiety as the first show commenced on Friday.
Like last week, all three films this week [December 9] -- EK AJNABEE, NEAL 'N' NIKKI and KALYUG -- were produced by A-list names [Bunty-Jaspreet Walia, Yash Raj, Mahesh-Mukesh Bhatt, respectively] and backed by an impressive pre-release campaign [qualitatively and quantitatively]. But, unfortunately, none of the three films notched a great start anywhere.
Going by their impressive track record and the loyal fans they've cultivated over the years, everyone was more than hopeful that Yash Raj's NEAL 'N' NIKKI would fetch the best start everywhere. In fact, the film had an edge over its competitors thanks to the eye-catching promos that were on air for quite some time now.
Strangely, the paying public wasn't too enthusiastic, going by the initial reactions that poured in from various parts of the country. Targeted at the youth mainly, the response to NEAL 'N' NIKKI was divided even at multiplexes of metros, with certain multiplexes recording decent to average opening figures, while some performing way below expectations. Beyond the metros, the footfalls at movie halls were far from impressive, with the business ranging from ordinary to poor.
The audience reaction and the negative reviews sealed its prospects further. The business of NEAL 'N' NIKKI was same [as Friday] on Saturday, picked up on Sunday [at places], but went downhill from Monday onwards. In fact, the decline in collections at several screens from Monday onwards was alarming. The thanda response to NEAL 'N' NIKKI clearly indicates that even the mighty can fall… and most importantly, sleaze, skin show and vulgarity are no longer on a moviegoer's 'most wanted' list.
Everyone was more than confident that EK AJNABEE would garner an electrifying start considering the free publicity the film had garnered over the past two weeks, thanks to Big B's illness. But, again, the audience response to EK AJNABEE wasn't as expected.
Despite encouraging reports, the desi version of MAN ON FIRE didn't really set the box-office afire, going by its initial business. The opening ranged from good [Bengal, multiplexes of Mumbai and Delhi] to average to below average, which did come as a complete surprise. The film had an average first weekend and was steady at several screens from Monday onwards. It's steady, but on the lower side. However, the silver lining is that the film has been sold at reasonable prices and that might take its investors to safety in the long run.
KALYUG was the dark horse. Everyone expected it to embark on a poor start, considering that it was pitted against two powerful oppositions. But the business of KALYUG, expectedly, showed a rise at several movieplexes across the nation. The film did have a shaky start at several places, but it consolidated its status before Day 1 came to a close.
Of course, the business didn't show a meteoric rise, but the figures were better than the remaining two films at several screens. Monday onwards, KALYUG recorded the best collections in several circuits, when compared to the other two releases. The advantage with KALYUG is that like all Bhatt productions, it has been made within a stipulated budget and sold at most reasonable prices. KALYUG also enjoyed a strong word of mouth, hence should prove to be a plus proposal for its investors. In certain circuits, it should touch the 'Overflow' [success] mark for sure.
THIS WEEK, LAST YEAR
[Weekend: 10-12, 2004]
You ought to have a strong stomach to absorb a film like MUSAFIR. The film, in sharp contrast to what the Johars and Chopras have been attempting, stated on a great note everywhere. 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 was in the range of 70%-80% +.
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.