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A pleasant surprise and a rude shock. That's how AKSAR and MERE JEEVAN SAATHI, the two films that opened last Friday, behaved at the box-office.

AKSAR, backed by excellent music [Himesh Reshammiya], fantastic promotion and an actor who's popular with the youth [Emraan Hashmi], was the first choice of moviegoers obviously. The lethal combination of music and sex [the smooches, the skin show et al] and qualitative promos ensured that the film would attract more footfalls at movieplexes than the much-delayed MERE JEEVAN SAATHI.

Consequently, when AKSAR took an encouraging start at several places [75% +], it really didn't come as a surprise. But what caught a lot of people unaware was the fact that the opening numbers were much better than the two biggies of January [FAMILY, ZINDA]. For a film that has been made at a modest budget, the good start was indeed an achievement.

But the collections slipped on Day 2 [Saturday] mainly because the reports weren't positive. The collections showed an upswing on Sunday [Day 3], but slided downwards again on Monday [Indo-Pak cricket match]. Tuesday and Wednesday were weak as well. At best, AKSAR should sale safe in some circuits thanks to its reasonable price, while in certain circuits [North] it's a profitable venture.

On the other hand, MERE JEEVAN SAATHI aroused little passion from Show 1 itself. The opening numbers at some places were in the range of 10%, which, again, caught a lot of people unaware. Yes, no one expected MERE JEEVAN SAATHI to embark on a 90% start [the aam juntaaware that the film had taken a long time to reach the theatres], but considering that Akshay Kumar is riding high on popularity charts and with the billboards screaming 'She's back' [hinting at Karisma Kapoor], one definitely expected a 50% + initial for sure.

The failure of MERE JEEVAN SAATHI only underlines the fact that it's the content that drives a movie, not the stars. Also, I've always maintained, the promos are the deciding factors these days. If the promos excite you, the moviegoer would be ready to invest Rs. 100 in a film. Else, he would only wait for the reviews or word of mouth to decide whether to watch the flick or just skip it.

Back to MERE JEEVAN SAATHI. It's high time our writers realized that they need to think out of the box [but stay within commercial parameters] if they really want the audiences to back their movies.

THIS WEEK, LAST YEAR
[Weekend: February 4-6, 2005]

A Sanjay Leela Bhansali film should ensure a 100% response for the first three days in advance booking itself. But the opening of BLACK was dismal: It ranged from 30% to 50% at several cinema halls. The multiplexes were generating better business, as expected.

The collections of the film showed an upward trend at multiplexes on Saturday and Sunday. Even on Monday, it was steady at several multiplexes of metros. But it wasn't as expected at several single screen cinemas.

As for SHABD, what was so special about its script that excited Sanju and Ash in the first place? And what kind of cinema was debutante writer-director Leena Yadav trying to serve us?

It's very, very important to keep the mindset of the Indian audiences in mind when you attempt a film. Also, where most debutante directors really falter is when they compensate a cohesive script with brilliant visuals. Who cares if the visuals are great or not? At the end of the day, a moviegoer wants to witness an engrossing story, not a bizarre themes.

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