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Bachchan's strategy works for Abhi-Ash

By: Upala KBR, Mid-Day
Thursday, January 18, 2007
The timing of Aishwarya Rai and Abhishek Bachchan's engagement has sparked off speculation over whether the move was planned to whip up renewed interest in Guru post its dismal opening last week. Whatever the truth, the strategy seems to have paid off.

The engagement happened on Sunday evening, and the gloomy figures (Guru had an opening of 50-60 per cent across India) began picking up on Monday. This is unheard of in Bollywood, where opening collections usually drop post Monday.

Ebb and flow

So what made the difference? Is it fair to say that news of the lead pair making their relationship official was the chief cause? Says an industrywalla, "The Bachchans want to break the myth that Ash and Abhishek are a flop pair. When someone as respectable as Amitabh calls the entire media to his home, which he has never done before, and gives interviews about how he's going to see Guru 100 times over people will listen."

Adds a reputed trade source, "Guru will be an average commission earner, but definitely not a hit as it's being touted.

The collections (except Mumbai, Maharashtra and some areas in the south) have already started dropping across India. Multiplexes in Indore on Sunday registered the following collections:

Inox - Rs 1,44,000, Velocity - Rs 1,30,600, PVR - Rs 1,49,900 and Adlabs - Rs 1,45,500. However, on Monday collections dropped. Inox was Rs 45,500, Velocity - Rs 43,500, PVR - Rs 77,700 and Adlabs - Rs 38,200. If Guru has picked up slightly it is in Mumbai, which opened to less than 50 per cent.

The Ash-Abhishek engagement made a difference to the collections on Monday. But there is no question of the film picking up after this. While all 16 shows were full at Mulund theatres on Sunday (a holiday), Monday saw a steep drop of 30 per cent."

Trade analyst Taran Adarsh adds, "Guru has been holding well at Cinemax since Monday; it has registered 60 percent collections. This was indirectly boosted by the engagement story as TV channels were showing clips of Guru along with the news.

However, I don't think this was a publicity stunt. Salaam-E-Ishq will definitely make a huge dent to Guru's collections when it releases next week."

What do the trade analysts have to say?

Vikas Mohan, editor, Super Cinema

Top three releases of 2006?
Dhoom 2, Krrish and Lage Raho Munnabhai.

Has Guru done as well?
Kaha raja bhoj, kaha gangu teli? They are much ahead of Guru.

Are the collections of Guru good/average/dismal?
In Mumbai, the film is doing good business at multiplexes but very badly at single screen theatres. In north India and the Hindi belt, Guru is a disaster.

Will the collections get better in the coming weeks?
Going by the way it is now, I don't think so.

What is the public reaction?
For Friday's 2 pm show at Cinemax Andheri, there were 35-40 people in a 60-75 seater theatre. Get one show that is house full and I will leave the film industry.

Did the engagement result in a rise in collections?
Yes. An engagement is a positive thing. When Meena Kumari died, Pakeezah became a super hit because people knew they wouldn't see her again. The engagement announcement has had a positive effect by 1 or 2 per cent, especially among the youth.

Indu Mirani, Chief Editor, thirtymm.com, trade analyst

Top three releases of 2006?
Dhoom 2, Krrish and Lage Raho Munnabhai.

Has Guru done as well?
No way!

Are the collections of Guru good/average/dismal?
It's average. Single screen shows are not doing well, but shows at multiplexes are better.

Will the collections get betterin the coming weeks?
Next week Salaam-E-Ishq releases. That will make a difference and Guru collections will get affected.

What is the general reaction of the public?
Some people have liked it, while others haven't. Celebrating the success of a man who has no respect for the law hasn't been digested well by a certain section of the audience.

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