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The Jinxed Period Continues!

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Courtesy: Taran Adarsh, IndiaFM

Its common knowledge that the first release of the New Year is considered jinxed. In the past, none of the films that opened in the first week of January could work at the box-office due to unexplainable reasons. Really, this one merits a place in 'Believe It or Not'.

The track record of the last few years has been quite an eye-opener...
2005: Vaada, Rog, Yehi Hai Zindagi
2004: Ishq Hai Tumse
2003: Talaash
2002: Pitaah
2001: Galiyon Ka Badshah
2000: Mela, Bulandi
1999: Sikander Sadak Ka
1998: A dubbed film
1997: Aastha
1996: Himmat, Jurmana, Smuggler
1995: --
1994: Aasoo Bane Angaarey

The year 2006 has begun on a similar note. With one hardcore commercial film [Jawani Diwani/wide release] and two realistic films [15 Park Avenue and Devaki/limited circuits and limited shows, both] releasing alongside, there wasn't much to look forward to this Friday. There was slight curiosity for Jawani Diwani, partly because Emraan Hashmi enjoys a loyal following amongst the youth and also due to the pre-release promotion. But the hype didn't translate into an encouraging start.

"It's become a trend for films to open in the 20%-30% range," a prominent North India distributor-exhibitor casually mentioned to me. I endorse this viewpoint!

Since the past few weeks, the opening day as well as the first weekend business has rarely gone beyond 30% [in majority of cases]. The content is to blame for the receding numbers [partly] as also the exorbitant ticket rates [at multiplexes specifically]. Gone are the days when a moviegoer would rush to a nearby theatre to catch a film every Friday. Today, the 'House Full' boards or advance bookings [of tickets] are a rarity!

Back to Jawani Diwani. The opening ranged from average [few places] to poor and what compounded the problem were the negative reports that started filtering in after the conclusion of the first show itself. The double entendres were crude and even the youth brigade that patronized films like Masti and Kyaa Kool Hai Hum found the vulgarity in Jawani Diwani a bit too difficult to absorb.

In the recent times, this is the second instance of skin show/vulgarity being shown the door. First Neal 'N' Nikki and now Jawani Diwani are two shining examples of the audience shunning sleazy flicks outright.

15 Park Avenue, released at select multiplexes [in limited shows] of limited circuits, is being patronized by the elite. As for Devaki, it neither won critical acclaim nor did it attract moviegoers. A damp squib!

THIS WEEK, LAST YEAR
[Weekend: January 7-9, 2005]

The week witnessed the release of three medium-budget films -- Vaada, Rog and Yehi Hai Zindagi -- and the opening day figures were enough to send their distributors into a state of gloom.

The failure of Rog underlined the fact that the audiences had had enough of skin-show and sleaze-fest. First Mallika Sherawat [Kis Kis Ki Kismat], then Anatra Mali [Naach], later Diana Hayden [Ab... Bas!] and now Ilene Hamann [Rog] failed to arouse the interest of the hoi polloi, despite provocative posters/promos.

Yehi Hai Zindagi was also greeted with near-empty halls. Besides low-key promotion, one of the key factors that went against it was its not-too-exciting star cast. Besides, the film had nothing fresh to offer.

Like all Vashu Bhagnani films, Vaada was aggressively promoted prior to its release. And one did expect the terrific pre-release promotion to translate into an above average opening for the film. But, contrary to expectations, Vaada had a shaky, below-the-mark start at several centres.

The collections of Vaada were steady at a few theatres of Mumbai till Monday, but Tuesday onwards, they slided downwards completely. At smaller centres, the verdict was crystal clear during the opening weekend itself.

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