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Sequel Works, Remake Doesn't!

By: Taran Adarsh, IndiaFM
Monday, June 19, 2006
Producer Firoz A. Nadiadwala couldn't control his laughter when he read the script of Phir Hera Pheri the first time. Now that the film has released and the box-office verdict is loud and clear, he is laughing again. Not at the jokes in his film. It's the box-office collections of Phir Hera Pheri that have given him ample reasons to feel euphoric.

Everyone knew Phir Hera Pheri would open big. But its record start came as a pleasant surprise. The Akshay-Suniel-Paresh laughathon had embarked on a bigger and better start than the mighty Fanaa at places. In fact, at several centres of Uttar Pradesh as also at Akola, Bhilai, Chandrapur, Raipur and Yavatmal, the opening day collections were bigger than the opening day figures of Fanaa [as per the distributor's written statement to this writer].

'House Full' boards sprang up again for the third consecutive week at not just Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata, but also in Punjab, Rajasthan, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh. Phir Hera Pheri took a hurricane-like start, shattering the myth that sequels don't work in India. Prior to Phir Hera Pheri, sequels of Nagina [Nigahen], Vaastav [Hathyar] and Hyderabad Blues [Hyderabad Blues 2] had fallen flat on their faces. Clearly, with Phir Hera Pheri proving a major success, the trend [of making sequels] gets a new lease of life.

What actually contributed to the thunderous start of Phir Hera Pheri at the ticket window? Let's get into the flashback mode. A week after Firoz A. Nadiadwala's Deeeane Huye Paagal bombed at the box-office, the producer, in a free-and-frank discussion with this writer, blamed the wrong promotion of the film as the prime reason for its failure. The film was a comedy, but the action promos sent out wrong signals.

It was then that the enterprising producer decided to rework on his strategies and promote his next film, Phir Hera Pheri, accordingly. Promoting the core content of the film is of paramount importance and the attractive [and funny] promos of Phir Hera Pheri did the trick. The audience had already made up its mind to watch this sequel, even before it hit the marquee.

The first weekend of Phir Hera Pheri was 95% + everywhere. However, Fanaa was released with maximum prints and was being screened in 12/14/16 shows everyday, as against Phir Hera Pheri's 5/6 shows. Hence, the first week billing of Fanaa will be bigger than Phir Hera Pheri. But both Fanaa and Phir Hera Pheri are big hits nonetheless!

If the opening weekend of Phir Hera Pheri was terrific, the weekdays were rock-steady as well [65%-70% +]. The distributors of Phir Hera Pheri should start making profits from second week onwards, as things stand today. And, yes, its super-success is a tight slap on the faces of all 'critics' who wrote off the film [like Fanaa], calling it the worst of names. It's time to wake up and smell coffee, folks!

Priyadarshan wasn't lucky this time. Ironically, his new release, Chup Chup Ke, lost out to none other than the brand he created six years ago [Here Pheri]. That's life -- unpredictable to the T. Chup Chup Ke is an interesting product. In fact, I'd rate it amongst Priyan's finest efforts. It has a healthy mix of comedy and emotions and most importantly, it's a paarivarik film -- a genre that works most of the times in India. But it didn't this time.

After the first show ended, there were a few observations that I'd like to share with the readers... A section of the film industry feels that Chup Chup Ke got eclipsed completely by the strong Phir Hera Pheri wave. Even UTV, the producers of Chup Chup Ke, knew that Phir Hera Pheri would pose a tough fight, but the fact that the sequel would open so big was completely unexpected. With Phir Hera Pheri being the first choice of moviegoers, Chup Chup Ke was relegated to the backseat from Day 1 itself.

There's a strong feeling that the clash could've been averted. Had Chup Chup Ke a week later [there's just ALAG on June 16], the business prospects would've been much, much better. Also, it could've had its global premiere at I.I.F.A. in Dubai, thus attracting million dollar worth free publicity in the bargain [ironically, Chup Chup Ke was officially launched at I.I.F.A. Amsterdam last year].

Another surprising aspect is that Shahid and Kareena's 36 China Town had a potent 65%-75% start at several screens, while the opening numbers of Chup Chup Ke, released a month later, ranged from a decent 60% to a shockingly low 30% at places. How does one explain this?

Chup Chup Ke had a favorable start [60% +] at multiplexes of Mumbai, Delhi and parts of South India. But before Day 1 could come to a close, the collections had started sliding downwards in Delhi [evening shows]. In states like Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, the film was a non-starter.

As things stand today, Chup Chup Ke is at best average in Mumbai, but losing in several circuits. While Priyan's popularity wouldn't take a beating, Shahid Kapoor, the lead man, would be affected since it's the main actor who walks away with bouquets/brickbats if a solo hero film works/fails at the ticket window.

[Weekend: June 10-12, 2005]

Everyone expected Parneeta to embark on a flying start. But the Friday collections -- in the range of 45% to 75% -- did catch the trade watchers by surprise [the multiplexes showed a better start]. Ideally, this 2005 adaptation of an early 20th century classic should've garnered a 90% + start everywhere, irrespective of the merits of the film.

The multiplexes of Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata performed exceedingly well in the first weekend, while the business at some single screens [those frequented by hardcore masses] was not befitting a biggie. The business ranged from average to dull at places.

The silver lining is that the business at multiplexes is pretty strong and with multiple shows throughout the week [at places, 9 shows a day!], the first week billing from three circuits -- Mumbai, Delhi-U.P. and Bengal -- was the best.

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