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First week of New Year jinxed?

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By: Taran Adarsh, IndiaFM
Thursday, January 11, 2007
Certain things are unexplainable...

Most producers consult astrologers before launching their films. They perform a mahurat at an auspicious hour, so that all goes well during its making, right till its release. Even the release dates, at times, are arrived at after consultations from soothsayers. But looking at the ratio of flops over the years, one wonders how reliable and trustworthy these prophecies actually are.

Similarly, the first week of New Year is considered jinxed. For some inexplicable and baffling reason, the first release hasn't worked at the box-office, year after year. Let me reproduce a comprehensive list of the first release[s] to illustrate my point --

2006: Jawani Diwani, 15 Park Avenue, Devaki
2005: Vaada, Rog, Yehi Hai Zindagi
2004: Ishq Hai Tumse
2003: Talaash
2002: Pitaah
2001: Galiyon Ka Badshah
2000: Mela, Bulandi
1999: Sikander Sadak Ka
1998: A dubbed film
1997: Aastha
1996: Himmat, Jurmana, Smuggler
1995: --
1994: Aasoo Bane Angaarey

2007 was no different. This year too began on a cold note , as Kudiyon Ka Hai Zamaana, the first release, was greeted with near-empty halls. This chick flick was initially slated for release along side I See You [on 29th December, 2006], but was pushed ahead by one week [5th January, 2007] days before its release. Looking at the merits of the film, even if Kudiyon Ka Hai Zamaana had opened during summer vacations or Diwali [when film business shows a major jump], its fate would've been no different.

Since the past two weeks, the occupancy level at movieplexes has hit rock bottom. Both I See You last week and Kudiyon Ka Hai Zamaana this week have had a disastrous run at the ticket window. It would be foolhardy to blame the cricket matches or cold wave for the decline in film business. Had that been the case, films like Bhagam Bhag [Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Mumbai, parts of Madhya Pradesh], Dhoom 2 and Vivah wouldn't be running to good houses even today.

Let's face facts: A bad film is a bad film!


2007: BIGGER&BETTER

The esteemed Voice of America [international broadcasting service funded by the U.S. government] tossed a pertinent question at me last week: Will 2007 be a better year than 2006 for Bollywood? I am a perpetual optimist. With newer ideas germinating and new talent mushrooming like never before, the face of Bollywood is changing for better. Hindi cinema has already undergone a radical change in 2006 and 2007 will only take the industry forward.

Being an integral part of the industry, I notice the difference every single day. Almost all key players have realized the power of script and coupled with the all-powerful star system, the dream merchants of Mumbai are set to deliver a slew of films that would only make us gleam with joy.

Being an avid moviegoer, I don't pin hopes on big films alone. The medium-budget fares also feature prominently on my radar. Last year, films like Gangster, Malamaal Weekly, Aksar, Corporate, Khosla Ka Ghosla, Pyaar Ke Side Effects, Apna Sapna Money Money and Vivah proved paying propositions for their investors. In fact, a couple of films even embarked on a fantastic start at the ticket window, taking the industry by surprise.

2007 will be bigger and better. Watch out!


THIS WEEK IN 2006
[Weekend: January 6-8, 2006]


With one hardcore commercial film [Jawani Diwani/wide release] and two realistic films [15 Park Avenue and Devaki/limited circuits and limited shows, both] releasing alongside, there wasn't much to look forward to this weekend. There was slight curiosity for Jawani Diwani, partly because Emraan Hashmi enjoys a loyal following amongst the youth and also due to the pre-release promotion. But the hype didn't translate into an encouraging start.

The opening of Jawani Diwani ranged from average [few places] to poor and what compounded the problem were the negative reports that started filtering in after the conclusion of the first show itself. The double entendres were crude and even the youth brigade that patronized films like Masti and Kyaa Kool Hai Hum found the vulgarity in Jawani Diwani a bit too difficult to absorb.

15 Park Avenue, released at select multiplexes [in limited shows] of limited circuits, was patronized by the elite. As for Devaki, it neither won critical acclaim nor did it attract moviegoers. A damp squib!


THIS WEEK IN 2005
[Weekend: January 7-9, 2005]


The Friday witnessed the release of three medium-budget films -- Vaada, Rog and Yehi Hai Zindagi -- and the opening day figures were enough to send their distributors into a state of gloom.

The failure of ROG underlined the fact that the audiences had had enough of skin-show and sleaze-fest. First Mallika Sherawat [Kis Kis Ki Kismat], then Antra Mali [Naach], later Diana Hayden [AB... BAS!] and now Ilene Hamann [Rog] failed to arouse the interest of the hoi polloi, despite provocative posters/promos.

Yehi Hai Zindagi was also greeted with near-empty halls. Besides low-key promotion, one of the key factors that went against it was its not-too-exciting star cast. Also, the film had nothing fresh to offer.

Like all Vashu Bhagnani films, Vaada was aggressively promoted prior to its release. And one did expect the terrific pre-release promotion to translate into an above average opening. But, contrary to expectations, Vaada had a shaky, below-the-mark start at several centres. The collections of Vaada were steady at a few theatres of Mumbai till Monday, but Tuesday onwards, they slided downwards completely.


THIS WEEK IN 2004
[Weekend: January 2-4, 2004]


More than three weeks ago, this writer had warned that the first week of the New Year does not augur well for the film industry. The article was supported with facts and many producers actually re-scheduled the release dates of their films after reading this piece. In fact, producers like Ramgopal Varma, Pritish Nandy and Manisha Koirala decided to shift their films [Ek Hasina Thi, Chameli, Paisa Vasool, respectively] to another date due to this reason.

Would Ishq Hai Tumse break the jinx and prove an exception? The question was uppermost on my mind as the film hit the marquee in the first week of 2004. Ishq Hai Tumse not only opened to a lukewarm response, but the collections fell steadfastly as days advanced. Not that anyone was expecting miracles. The film lacked in merits to entice the viewer.

The dull response to the film also indicated that no matter how successful the original version may've been, you cannot expect its remake to meet a similar fate.

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