The much talked about film, Samrat Prithviraj, failed to create a big buzz at the box office. Starring Akshay Kumar, the film had a double-digit opening, at Rs. 10.70 crores. However, it was not enough for a film, which is reportedly made at a cost of approx. Rs. 200 crores. The growth on Saturday and Sunday was also minimal as the word of mouth was not entirely positive. In the weekdays, the film dropped considerably. In 10 days, the film has collected around Rs. 60 crores and it is expected to end its run under Rs. 70 crores.
What went wrong with Samrat Prithviraj? Trade experts share their views on whether incorrect marketing and use of religious undertones went against the film
We asked trade experts what went wrong with Samrat Prithviraj according to them. Trade expert Komal Nahta said, “Historicals are always tricky. Today’s generation doesn’t want to watch historical films unless it is extraordinarily made. So, it was anyway a dangerous project. Secondly, Akshay Kumar seems to be totally disinterested. He looked like Akshay Kumar rather than Prithviraj. Thirdly, the film had bad music. Fourthly, there’s no romance and drama and these are two strong pillars of any film, more so, in a historical. And lastly, it didn’t invoke any feeling of patriotism.”
Trade veteran Taran Adarsh explained, “One unanimous reason is that the trailer didn’t catch on with the audience. A very minuscule number of people appreciated the trailer. Secondly, the film lacks a good soundtrack. And that’s a must for any and every film and more so for a historical film. I liked the film. I expected better returns as it was a well-mounted star cast. It is produced by Yash Raj Films (YRF), one of the leading production houses in the country and stars an A-lister. Also, I had tremendous faith in director Dr Chandraprakash Dwivedi. However, the film has been rejected outright and that came as a shocker. You and I liking it doesn’t make a difference as most people have to give it a thumbs up. For the amount of money invested in the film, the return has to be there.”
Vishek Chauhan, owner of Roopbani Cinema in Bihar, stated, “Prithviraj, as a character, is a very heroic and a powerful human being. Everyone has read stories of him and his achievements. The makers, however, executed the story in a very straightforward manner. They have kept it very subtle. Akshay Kumar’s character is devoid of any bravura or grandiose. The herogiri is missing. In the absence of it, yeh film TV category ki lag rahi thi.”
He added, “This is the problem with Bollywood. They are not able to excite the audiences as they are making flat films. There’s no scale and if the scale is there, then the heroism is missing. You need to create mass hysteria. You can’t tone down your theatrical films. Apna mass quotient badhaaiye. Apni filmon ko thoda loud banaaiye.”
To prove his point, Vishek Chauhan stated, “there’s a reason Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 is working so well. Everything in the film is so loud, universal and spelt out. The horror is nicely defined, the comedy is so well done, and the songs are chartbusters. So, it’s an ideal theatrical experience and no wonder it has crossed the Rs. 150 crores mark.”
The marketing of Samrat Prithviraj has also come under the scanner. Many felt that instead of pitching the film to the politicians, it should have been correctly pitched to the audiences. Moreover, the usage of religious undertones by marketing the film as the story of a ‘Hindu Samrat’ and publicizing how it got banned in ‘Islamic nations’ put off a section of people. Did these tactics backfire for the film?
Taran Adarsh observed, “I don’t know if that would be the right reason actually. How does one explain the same reasons working in favour of The Kashmir Files (2022)? Politicians were talking about that film, whether good or bad. And the film worked at that point. In the case of Samrat Prithviraj, it didn’t work. We can come up with excuses. The fact is that the content went unnoticed. People simply rejected the film.”
He continued, “When politicians back a film, people do talk about it, on social media. But let’s give it to the audience. They are the ones who decide. In fact, The Kashmir Files initially didn’t have political support. It grew dramatically from day 1 to day 2. What a weekend it was! And then, it just took off. It happened with Pushpa as well. Even the lead actor didn’t promote the film much the way it should have been! Yet, it picked up. It all boils down to the content. The content must click, promotion or no promotion.”
Vishek Chauhan disagreed that the marketing damaged the film’s prospects, “Na neta log film ko chala sakte hai, no woh bigaad sakte hai. What matters is that the content needs to connect with the audience. Even in the case of The Kashmir Files, there was government support. However, the content clicked big time and that’s why it did well. With Samrat Prithviraj, it didn’t work as the film didn’t get acceptance. People hardly care which minister is endorsing the film. Akshay Kumar tried his level best in getting endorsements from political figures. It might have made a difference in a few circuits. They might have got a couple of crores more. These strategies will get the attention of the people. But there’s no guarantee it’ll help the film in the long run.”
Komal Nahta, meanwhile, said, “I would say that the marketing techniques actually helped the film! How much ever the film managed to collect was thanks to the strategy. After the film was shown to the chief minister and home minister, it got a lot of mileage. Otherwise, it would have done at least Rs. 10-15 crores less.”
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