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Green signal at places, amber at some!

By: Taran Adarsh, IndiaFM
Thursday, February 08, 2007
Madhur Bhandarkar completes his trilogy with Traffic Signal and everyone's curious to know its box-office fate: Is it red, amber or green signal at the ticket window?

Call it a coincidence, Madhur never tasted success when he made hardcore commercial films. Trishakti [his directorial debut] and Aan, both masala films, sank without a trace. With the sole exception of Satta, the realistic films he helmed, Chandni Bar, Page 3 and Corporate, proved paying propositions. That explains why Percept Picture Company, the producers of Traffic Signal, never found a dearth of buyers for Madhur's new film.

Traffic Signal found its share of advocates and adversaries. While a section of the paying public liked the concept as well as the twist in the tale in the second hour, a section of moviegoers didn't agree to the abrupt end of the film. A prominent North India distributor felt that the protagonist should've done something more, so as to conclude the story on a satisfying note. That's a valid observation!

Like all Madhur's films, Traffic Signal too had its best opening in Mumbai/Maharashtra and the business escalated towards the evening shows. The film behaved well on Saturday and Sunday in this territory [70% +], although it was plain ordinary in some circuits.

As things stand today, the film should yield rich dividends from Mumbai territory for sure. Mumbai city-suburbs, Thane and Pune were rocking in the first weekend. Ditto for South. Its business in other circuits seems to vary. Delhi/Uttar Pradesh should have a good first week billing. In other circuits, the business ranges from decent to ordinary.

Percept Picture Company, the producers, have made a neat profit thanks to the sales of India theatrical rights [Mumbai fetched a handsome price], Home Video and Satellite rights. Music rights also fetched an okay amount, while the recovery from Overseas is almost half-a-crore [and still counting].

Overall, it's a 'green' light in some circuits [Mumbai/Maharashtra, South] and 'amber' in some, partly due to its reasonable price tag!

[Weekend: February 3-5, 2006]

A pleasant surprise and a rude shock. That's how Aksar and Mere Jeevan Saathi 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. 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 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.

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, but in view of the fact that Akshay Kumar is riding high on popularity charts and with 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.

[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 screens.

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 theme.

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