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<i>Gangster</i> Leads, <i>Darna</i> & <i>Mistress</i> Limp!

By: Taran Adarsh, IndiaFM

Friday, May 05, 2006

Three diverse films, three varied outcome. That's how I would sum up the box-office response to the three important releases on the last Friday of April.

Vying for audience attention this week were RGV's Darna Zaroori Hai, Mahesh and Mukesh Bhatt's Gangster and the talked-about Aishwarya Rai starrer The Mistress of Spices. While the horror story met with a horrifying fate at the box-office, Gangster, armed with great reviews, gathered momentum gradually, while The Mistress of Spices turned out to be a monumental disaster.

Much was expected from Darna Zaroori Hai. In view of the fact that there has been an overdose of comedy films in the recent past, the audience was yearning for a change. Bahut meetha [comedy] ho gaya, ab kuch teekha [horror] ho jaaye. That's exactly what I told RGV minutes before entering the auditorium to watch his new creation.

But Darna Zaroori Hai joins the club of weak films Factory has produced over the years. When you call your film Darna Zaroori Hai, it's important to live up to the title. Viewer ko darana behad zaroori hai. But barring a few sequences, you don't really get goose bumps while watching this supposedly eerie flick. That's where it falters!

Despite an impressive star cast, Darna Zaroori Hai had a low turnout at movieplexes throughout the country. The film did not succeed in its mission of scaring the moviegoers, but the opening day numbers were indeed scary at several places. The opening ranged from 10% to 15% at places, while the metros behaved slightly better. Saturday onwards, the business only slided downwards thanks to the poor reports filtering in.

On the other hand, Gangster had the best start amongst the new releases this week. The glowing reviews and the audience feedback only strengthened the hope that its business would rise slowly and steadily. If the opening day numbers were in the range of 20%-30% +, there was slight improvement on Saturday, while Sunday and Monday showed an upward trend. In fact, the collections picked up from Monday onwards, proving the cynics wrong, although it's not as strong in certain pockets.

Gangster won glowing reviews from the media as well as the aam junta that watched the film. The advantage with Gangster [and all Bhatt films] is that it's reasonably priced and that should keep its investors safe/smiling.

Aishwarya Rai's second outing in the international market, The Mistress of Spices, met with a disastrous response. After the miserable response in U.K., its failure in India doesn't come as a surprise. The Mistress of Spices is a weak product in all respects, even by Indian standards. Despite a novel premise, director Paul Mayeda Berges has not been able to make a spicy, riveting fare.

Wonder why Tilo [Ash's character in the film], with the help from her spices, didn't think of a remedy for this spiceless product called The Mistress of Spices?


[Weekend: April 29-May 1, 2005]

Sometimes, the box-office revenue outweighs the general perception the audience may have about a film. Take, for instance, 2004's three blockbuster hits -- Main Hoon Na, Mujhse Shaadi Karogi and Veer-Zaara. The reactions to the films, keenly anticipated all, were mixed. A section of the audience loved them, a section of moviegoers found them way below expectations. The media, expectedly, went all out to pull the films down. Besides the negative reviews, the talk within the film industry was extremely off-putting and pessimistic as well.

Something similar happened with Kaal this weekend. However, despite negative talk, Kaal opened to a fantabulous start everywhere. The opening was almost 100% at practically all centres, confirming the fact that this Karan Johar-SRK joint venture had taken the best start after Veer-Zaara.

Kaal has a major advantage in its length [2 hours], unlike Veer-Zaara, which was of 3 hour + duration. While Veer-Zaara was screened in 3/4 shows every day due to its excessive length, Kaal was screened in 8/9/10 shows every single day, for the entire week [at some multiplexes, 10 shows were held on Friday, 12 on Saturday and 13 on Sunday, due to public demand]. And with Kaal running to packed houses on the first three days, the distributors made a killing in its opening weekend.

Another advantage that Kaal has is its budget. Now let's compare the budget of four Dharma Productions' biggies:-

KUCH KUCH HOTA HAI 16/17 crores
KAL HO NAA HO 32 crores
KAAL 12.5 crores, includes prints and publicity since Dharma is distributing the film in a few territories.

[The above-mentioned figures have been confirmed by Karan Johar]

Incidentally, Kaal has had the biggest opening for Dharma Productions, bigger than even K3G. And at the rate the film is faring, several territories should make money in the second week itself. The strategy of releasing the film with a good number of prints [420] has been a wise move for two reasons: One, to reap the maximum benefit due to its unprecedented craze and two, to counter video piracy.

Let's not forget that if the film opens big on weekends, the investors can be assured of a quick recovery and that explains why Lukcy, Waqt and now Kaal are in the plus. Thankfully, the balance sheet in April will show a rosy picture thanks to these three biggies!

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