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Domestic Box Office: Dry spell ends!

By Taran Adarsh, IndiaFM
Thursday, March 29, 2007
The low phase has finally ended. Post Guru, none of the biggies created magic at the ticket window. Most of them fell flat on their faces on the opening day itself. The business hit an all-time low. In fact, the management of a few theatres was compelled to cancel a few shows due to lack of moviegoers. The industry was in the I.C.U.

But Vipul Amrutlal Shah's Namastey London has come as a breather, as a respite. After starting on a 50% note and taking a beating on Friday evening due to the crucial India versus Sri Lanka match, the film gathered speed from Saturday onwards. By Saturday afternoon, the results were crystal clear: Namastey London was a safe proposition.

Word of mouth plays a crucial role in making/breaking a film. If the film boasts of negative reports, the cracks start showing on the opening day itself. But if the aam junta takes to a film, the collections have only one way to go -- upwards. The audience feedback has been extremely positive for Namastey London and its moderate success, therefore, was a foregone conclusion.

We've discussed the merits and demerits of Namastey London in the review, so its time to talk shop right now. How strong is Namastey London from the business point of view?

One of the factors that works big time is its reasonable pricing. I've always maintained that it's not the film, but the price that fails. It's a viewpoint any and every smart trader believes in. The higher the price, the riskier it gets. But if you price a film sensibly -- the producer recovers his investment and the buyer is in safe territory too -- it's a win-win situation for both. Namastey London is a shining example of this theory!

Another factor that worked in Namastey London's favor is that the moviegoers were waiting with bated breath for a big film [in terms of cast, budget] to arrive. There was a barrage of medium-budget films in the intervening period, with none of them having holding power to sustain audience interest. Obviously then, Namastey London was expected to be greeted with enthusiasm, provided the word of mouth was positive.

Having gathered momentum from Saturday onwards, the film further consolidated its position on Sunday. Monday didn't witness the alarming 'Monday fall'; the figures were average [30%], but Tuesday was steady due to Ram Navmi holiday.

Namastey London is faring well in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Rajasthan. Mumbai is strong too, while C.I. [Madhya Pradesh] is nice at big centres and average at smaller centres. In a nutshell, it's a safe venture for most of its distributors!


It happened with Black Friday. Then Parzania. Later Water. And now The Namesake. Winning critical acclaim is different, par kewal taarifon se pet nahin bharta. The Indian box-office is a different ballgame altogether. The four and five star ratings by reviewers only boosts your ego, not box-office revenue.

The Namesake is a well-made film, but it's not the kind that would appeal to one and all. Okay, it's not for the hoi polloi, but even the elite wouldn't take to the film completely. Actually, it caters to a tiny section of moviegoers and its outcome at the ticket window reflects that.

The Namesake has created ripples at the American box-office, but its fate in India is below par. It's alright at very few multiplexes, but dull otherwise.


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