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Great Words... Not Great Business!

By: Taran Adarsh, IndiaFM

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Suddenly, the tide has changed...

Post Fanaa, Phir Hera Pheri and Krrish, the mood in the industry was upbeat, buoyant, positive. But things started changing gradually. The absence of a major, universal hit in the recent weeks -- Corporate [decent at multiplexes], Golmaal - Fun Unlimited [best in Mumbai], The Killer [average to below average], Yun Hota Toh Kya Hota... What If? [disaster] and now Omkara -- have acted as a dampener.

Much was expected from Omkara. The Hindi adaptation of Othello boasts of a formidable star cast and is directed by an accomplished name [Vishal Bhardwaj]. Besides, the film was amongst the hottest propositions in the industry and the producers were lucky enough to sell it for exorbitant prices to the distributors.

The pre-release hype was tremendous. Almost every newspaper, TV channel or website was full of Omkara features/interviews. The film was expected to take the nation by storm with an earth-shattering opening and match up to the initial records set by the super-successful films this year.

But what's hot within the industry may not necessarily be hot with the movie-going junta...

The opening of Omkara sent shockwaves. It was expected to embark on a 90% + start, but the opening day figures were dismal: 25% to 40% to 65%. Things improved during the evening shows on Friday [a normal trend these days!], while Saturday was no different. The film registered a fall at places and at some centres, was in the same range as Friday. Sunday was better, but not record-breaking -- something that was expected from a film of this stature. Clearly, there was all-round disappointment that OMKARA wouldn't emerge the powerhouse the industry had anticipated.

What went wrong? Omkara may have earned glowing reviews [lavish praises, indeed!], but the audience feedback wasn't strong at all. Word spreads faster than fire these days and the mouthful of expletives and cuss words proved a major deterrent, keeping the family audiences at bay. As for the masses, Omkara is not the kind of cinema they'd take to instantly. Agreed, the film appealed to the elite, but that's definitely not enough for a film that carries an expensive price tag. Let's face it, kewal taarifon se peth nahin bharta; you ought to have the active participation of the aam junta to qualify for the 'Hit' status.

Also, the dialect restricted the appeal of Omkara to the U.P.-Bihar belt mainly. Expectedly, the response to Omkara in other states wasn't as aggressive. In fact, even in a city like Mumbai, I know of people who found it hard to decipher/comprehend certain dialogues from the film.

The distributors of Omkara were hopeful that the film would remain afloat on Monday and Tuesday, but the decline was inevitable. The film stumbled on Monday, but went downhill from Tuesday onwards. Its business at some multiplexes was fairly good, but at several screens, including single screens, it was disheartening.


[Weekend: July 29-31, 2005]

Tuesday, July 26, 2005. A day that turned into a nightmare for all Mumbaikars. The bustling city came to a grinding halt. Life was paralyzed. The city plunged into darkness. From shops to cafeterias to schools to banks to movieplexes, everything was shut for the next few days. The air, rail and road traffic came to a standstill. The losses were incalculable!

When electricity was restored on Wednesday evening [at a few suburbs of Mumbai, the electricity hadn't been restored till Monday, August 1], the common man started coming to terms with reality. Rushing to the nearest grocery store and stacking up the day-to-day necessities was uppermost on his/her mind.

The torrential rains had harmed like never before, hundreds of people lost their lives... Amidst uncertainty, insecurity and confusion, the producers of three medium-budget films [7 ' Phere, Sehar, ...Yahaan] decided to go ahead with the release of their films on Friday, July 29.

When survival is at stake, when life is in a quandary/on the edge, when you've to deal with human and financial losses, the idea of going to a cinema hall to catch a film doesn't even cross your mind. Expectedly, the business of the three films was badly hit in Mumbai, Maharashtra and Gujarat. The film failed to leave a mark in other circuits too.

Making a film is important, but ensuring that your film gets an appropriate release is equally important. The producers may've had their reasons of releasing their films this Friday [in the wake of adversities], but it's their film that got hit in the process.

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