For me, this weekend gone by was akin to good old days when election poll results hooked one to television sets. There were hourly bulletins giving updates on vote count for candidates. To keep the country entertained while being engaged, Doordarshan showed films. A three hour long film would run for as long as six hours with intermittent poll flashes displaying all the ups and downs, those who were racing ahead or were left behind and then the eventual losers and winners.
Over the weekend, Tees Maar Khan did just that as the numbers obsessed industry was monitoring the film's collections on an hourly basis. It just set me thinking:
Three decades back it was the silver jubilee v/s golden jubilee run of a film that decided its fate
Two decades back it was the 100 days run that came with its own prestige
A decade back it was the collections more than the days or weeks that were looked at closely
Five years back it was the first week that decided if the film was a hit or flop
A year back it came down to the weekend collections
Today, with the arrival of Tees Maar Khan, it is the first day number which appears to be an all important decision point for the industry
What would be the deciding factor tomorrow? The first show?
Let's explore in this week's 'Reflections'
The pressure is on
While for 'junta' in general, it is just an 'opening number' which is interesting enough to be followed and debated upon, it is the maker who is under immense pressure. Really, one can't state for sure that every maker would indeed be much considered about whether his film takes the biggest opening ever or not.
Of course expectations are directly proportional to the hype that has been created which means audience expects nothing but a record to be broken. The maker too is required to give in eventually to the entire expectations since there are voices all around:
'Arrey aap ki picture toh pichli waali ka record definitely todegi'
'Are you conscious about the fact that your film is expected to created records?'
'What kind of print count are you releasing the film at? Do you think it would be good enough to combat last blockbuster's record? '
Did someone ask the maker?
A filmmaker who basically just wanted to look at a good ROI after spending X amount of money on a film is now only pushed further ahead to gather not just X+10 crores but X+20 crores due to voices all around him. He may be content with X+15 crores though. The actors too would be happy with that. All investors concerned would be delighted with this number as well.
But those obsessed with numbers, who were not ready to settle for anything less than X+20 are now ready with declarations:
'In my book, this film is a flop. It should have done X+20. It has done only X+18.' 'This is why I always believed that this film was over rated. You can see that it couldn't break the record of last biggie'.
'That's indeed a poor opening indeed. What were the makers thinking when they got this film on floors. If an actor can't break records, he doesn't deserve to be a superstar. '
Look who is joining the party
To think of it, it is an all around effort that goes into making the entire nation look at these numbers closely. Revelation of box office numbers coupled with dozens of forums, blogs as well as countless tweets mean that every hardcore film buff now has keen interest in collections.
So when a film (rightly) boasts of the best box office collections ever, the world is aware about the facts and figures. The moment a new biggie is announced (whether of the same star or another), there are declarations made about how it could well break the existing record.
Now such declaration may come either from the filmmaker himself (quite rare), the PR machinery (very possible) or the 'aam junta' (happens all the time) but the fact remains that even before a film comes on floors, there is a target allocated to achieve an X number.
'100 crore toh bante hai kum se kum'
'Theek hai 3 Idiots ke 200 crore naa sahi but apna khud ka 80 crore waala record toh todna hi padega'
Arrey bhai, is it just that simple? Is there any formula that can make that happen? Is it like a candy that can be picked up from a store next door?
The maker's voice is hardly heard though. Of course when someone like Sajid Khan says that his film will definitely do 100 crores, one can still track that since the declaration has come from the maker himself who has seen the progress of his own film up, close and personal. But how about others who just want their films to do great business against the budget spent and leave it just at that? Why impose a number on them?
However, it is easier said and done as 100 entertainment channels, 50 newspapers, 10 websites and a million active bloggers and social network residents have already made up their mind.
For some, this number is a hero worship.
For some, this number is a weapon - 'Ab dekhte hain yeh record toda paata hai ya nahin'!
One wonders though if the makers eventually care. Well there are two ways to look at it.
In the short term they are expected to due to the pressure cooker situation being created. After all an X+15 could be good for them but those in hunt of a X+20 may well start adverse comments, hence leading to negative energy around a film soon after it's release.
However, in the long term, such things hardly matter for someone who has put X in a project and is expecting a return of X+10, the eventual total of X+15 is anytime better.
Yes, there are perception issues but then they could well be fought on the other day. Till then, it is time to relax and breathe easy.
And then of course there is tomorrow when it would be a first day battle all over again, perhaps being fought for the all-India first show collections.