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<i>Vivah</i> is a big hit

By: Taran Adarsh, IndiaFM

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Box-office can be most unpredictable and that's the beauty of the business. No one knows this better than Rajshri, who have been in the business for almost six decades. Films like Jeevan Mrityu, Uphaar, Geet Gaata Chal, Tapasya, Chitchor, Dulhan Wahi Jo Piya Man Bhaaye, Ankhiyon Ke Jharokon Se, Nadiya Ke Paar and the not-too-recent Maine Pyar Kiya and Hum Aapke Hain Koun braved so many oppositions [weather/examinations/films], but slowly and gradually climbed the ladder of success.

With Vivah, Rajshri has gone back to the traditional system of exploiting a film. The mantra is simple: Release the film with limited prints in limited shows in the first round and increase the prints gradually, as the popularity of the film grows. At a time when Bollywood is exploring the strategy of 'wide release', flooding the marquee with 1,000 + prints globally, Vivah was released with 150 prints in the domestic market. Also, the premier production-distribution house didn't go for the overkill, with 12/14/16 shows at multiplexes, but 2/3/4 shows at most places. And the gamble paid off!

I have always believed that Rajshri has cultivated a strong and loyal audience over the years and no matter how strong and omnipotent the saas-bahu sagas on television may be, a well-made Rajshri film would never find dearth of moviegoers. And in this case, the baraatis [moviegoers] kept increasing with each passing day to witness Vivah.

After opening to a heartening response [80%-90%] at several screens, the first weekend continued to attract crowds, even though the response from the media was outright negative. But the media response to Hum Aapke Hain Koun was pathetic too. I distinctly remember, Rajshri had organized a screening for the industry bigwigs at Liberty theatre, Marine Lines, Mumbai, almost a week before the release of the film. And the reactions ranged from poor to disaster to washout. In fact, a number of people scoffed at this writer when we carried a full-length review of the film before its release, calling it a potential blockbuster. Frankly, the Barjatyas of Rajshri are used to mixed reactions and feedback by now.

Back to Vivah. The film is EXTRA-ORDINARY in most circuits of India. Monday was strong, so was Tuesday and Wednesday. Rajshris are in the process of increasing the prints from the second/third week onwards and a clearer picture about its business would emerge once the maximum prints are in circulation. But, as of today, Rajshri has a big hit on hand!

A day before the release of Apna Sapna Money Money, I received a text message from Subhash Ghai stating that A.S.M.M. is a film for the masses and should be viewed in that perspective. I endorse this statement completely. Let's not pretend to be intellectuals when you saunter into a cineplex to watch A.S.M.M. It never claimed to be ground-breaking in the first place, so why grumble after you've watched it?

My only problem with the film is that the jokes could've been funnier and the climax, concise and entertaining. And I did voice my opinion to director Sangeeth Sivan and Ritesh Deshmukh on the day of release. To my [pleasant] surprise, they agreed to my viewpoint completely. The general feedback to the film has been positive and the heartening opening response proved that the junta was enjoying the film that doesn't test your IQ levels.

With a favorable start on hand, the distributors of Apna Sapna Money Money are already in the safe zone. The business did drop marginally on Monday [it wasn't a drastic fall], while Tuesday was average to below average. Keeping in mind the investment, Ghai and company should make decent profits at the end of the day. The one who stands to benefit the maximum is Ritesh Deshmukh, who pitched in an excellent performance and also ensured a good start at the ticket window.

The third release of the week, Deadline - Sirf 24 Ghante, was actually sandwiched between Vivah and Apna Sapna Money Money. While the family audiences preferred Vivah and the youth/masses opted for A.S.M.M., Deadline - Sirf 24 Ghante, expectedly, had a slow start at the ticket window.

This well-made film managed better collections on Saturday and Sunday [evening shows], but it wasn't a jump, like Percept's previous ventures Page 3 or Hanuman. Let's see if the coming days help the film find its audience!


[Weekend: November 11-13, 2005]

2005 had been a much better year when compared to the previous years. Not only did the year witness a number of successes, even the volume of business showed an alarming jump. And the one genre that dominated the charts was, without doubt, comedy.

Thanks to the super-success of Maine Pyaar Kyun Kiya, Kyaa Kook Hai Hum, No Entry and Garam Masala, there was a mad rush to make light entertainers. Till 2004, everyone was of the unanimous opinion that a generous dose of skin show is what drives moviegoers to movieplexes. Not anymore!

You may find this hard to believe, but a number of skin-flicks were finding it tough to attract buyers. Only goes to prove that no one genre is permanent in Bollywood.


[Weekend: November 12-14, 2004]

A strife-torn film industry was praying that the Diwali releases do the trick. The prayers were answered. The crowds were back... and how!

Yash Chopra's Veer-Zaara staked claim on the No. 1 position. It was meant to take a flying start at the turnstiles and the film behaved exactly the way one expected it to... Had Aitraaz been a solo release, the results would've been much, much better. The film had a shaky start, fetching a 50-60% opening at several cinema halls across the country. But the collections showed a jump from Saturday onwards.

Ramgopal Varma's gamble to release Naach in the same week as Veer-Zaara and Aitraaz misfired bigtime. Coming from the maker of Rangeela, Satya, Company and Bhoot, Naach was more of an experiment. An abstract piece of work, it failed to strike a chord with the paying public... As for Mughal-E-Azam, this epic also met with a mixed response. The film fared well at a few centres, but at some places, it was struggling to stand on its feet in the face of tough competition. 

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