The industry is thirsting for a hit. Or should I say, hits? Going by the increasing number of flops this year (approx. 95% disasters as compared to 90% last year), what we need is not one hit, but at least ten hits to compensate for the losses incurred this year. The million dollar question is, is it possible? Will the numbers (of hits) increase in the coming weeks? Will the much-hyped films, releasing back to back in December and January, prove to be the saviours?
One hopes that the tables turn for the better with DEEWANGEE, which has generated tremendous curiosity within and outside the industry. And let's hope the Diwali releases (JEENA SIRF MERRE LIYE, WAAH…! TERA KYA KEHNA, CHORI CHORI, ANNARTH, LEELA) spread light in an otherwise dark scenario.
DECEMBER IS CRUCIAL
The number of films releasing in December is alarming. As of now, more than 15 films are scheduled during this month, starting with KAANTE, RISHTEY, KARZ and TALAASH in the Idd week (December 6). The number of releases is only likely to increase as the days pass by. But the pertinent question is – is it advisable to have 3/4 biggies clashing in each week?
“Didn't GADAR and LAGAAN click?” asked a leading producer, whose film is scheduled to open in Idd. Yes, so did DIL and GHAYAL. But what about the countless examples of two or more biggies cutting into each other's business, harming the prospects of all the films in the process? Does the common man have the time, money and inclination to watch three or more films with his family each week? I don't think so!
WEEKLY RUN IS A THING OF THE PAST
Not too long ago, the weekly run of a film was a barometer of its success. I distinctly remember posters announcing completion of 100 days, 25 weeks, 50 weeks, 75 weeks and 100 weeks pasted all over the city, heralding the success of a film. Gone are the days…. Today, if a film manages to complete even a one-week run at the box-office, the distributors heave a sigh of relief. For, there have been instances of films being discontinued after one or three days of their release.
Which brings to my mind another significant question – is the audience in no mood to enter cinema halls? Besides the exorbitant ticket rates and substandard products, what's also keeping the cinegoers against visiting cinema halls is the satellite premiere of new releases. And this trend will continue for some time, till another HUM AAPKE HAIN KOUN invades the screen and brings audiences back to the theatres.
'LEELA' – THOUGHT-PROVOKING
This Diwali, while JEENA SIRF MERRE LIYE, WAAH…! TERA KYA KEHNA, CHORI CHORI and ANNARTH are all set to entertain the masses, another film, LEELA, is targeted at the gentry. An English film for the intelligentsia, who value sensible and thought-provoking cinema.
So what's special about LEELA, one may ask. To start with, it has an interesting and unusual story about the relationship between a young Indian boy (Amol Mhatre), settled in the U.S., and an elderly woman (Dimple Kapadia), who happens to be a professor from India.
The film is of 97 minutes duration and is being released with just 20 prints all over India. According to director Somnath Sen, the release strategy has been planned keeping its content in mind. “We are aiming for a distinct audience, which is why it is being released in select multiplexes in late night shows,” Sen reveals.
Did Sen have apprehensions about how the Indian audiences would react to this adult theme? “The Indian audiences have matured over the years. The audience accepted the growing concern and affection of a young boy for an elder woman in DIL CHAHTA HAI. Besides, LEELA is not far from reality,” Sen says.
Last week, Shringar, the all-India distributors of the film, had a special late night screening of the film at a suburban theatre for “opinion makers”, as Sen puts it. This writer was amongst those invited for the screening. While a detailed review will appear on release, all we can say is that the film is a treat to watch. Sensitively handled, the film has excellent performances by Dimple, Deepti Naval and Amol Mhatre.
U.T.V.'S PRODUCTION PLANS
While Shringar is intensifying its distribution and exhibition plans, its distribution partner, U.T.V., is said to be diversifying into production. In fact, going by reports in the trade, U.T.V. has also gone ahead and finalized three projects – the first one will be directed by Sameer Karnik and star Amitabh Bachchan, Vivek Oberoi and Aishwarya Rai.
U.T.V.'s Sanjay Bhattacharji, however, prefers to be tight-lipped. “We are yet to take a final decision on everything. We are looking at various projects and will go ahead only when everything is perfectly in place. No doubt, we have been wanting to get into production for a long time, but we are waiting for the right makers,” Sanjay diplomatically avers.
'HATHYAR' – SANJU-MANJREKAR MISS THE BUS
And now to the segment that's most eagerly awaited. How has the sequel to VAASTAV behaved at the box-office window? Let's find out –
The opening in Mumbai city-suburbs was quite good, but the film registered a fall on Day 2. Surprisingly, the film is not faring well at multiplexes, where even weak films do decent business… The situation is the same in Maharashtra. The collections have been showing a downward trend… The opening was average in Gujarat, but the film is not sustaining here… In Delhi city-suburbs, the opening wasn't as expected and the collections dropped as days progressed. In Uttar Pradesh, the collections are better… The opening was not too strong in Nagpur, dropped slightly on Day 2, remained steady on Day 3, but plummeted on Day 4… The film is not strong in Indore either… Jaipur has been below the mark as well.
COLD RESPONSE TO 'DIL VIL PYAR VYAR'
DIL VIL PYAR VYAR had an impressive cast and extra-ordinary music as its USPs, but the response indicates that the film hasn't won the cinegoer's 'dil' –
The opening was not as expected in Mumbai city-suburbs and although the collections are quite steady at multiplexes, the overall business is not encouraging… The opening in Maharashtra was quite uninspiring and the film continues to be on the lower side… Opening was average in Gujarat, but better at multiplexes… The collections in Delhi city-suburbs are not strong. Is weak in Uttar Pradesh… Opening was poor in Nagpur… Indore reports are poor… Opened to a weak response in Jaipur… Is good in Hyderabad.