Yesterday, a journo friend of mine asked me an interesting question: "Do you think high ticket rates at multiplexes are hampering poor foot-falls, especially in 2009 when the biggest money spinners have ironically been flops like Delhi 6 and Chandni Chowk To China?"
Well, without really getting into any pause or a debate, my instant answer was NO. The fact is simple - Films are flopping because they are plain bad. Period. Except for may be a stray Luck By Chance which flopped this year in spite of being a well made film, each of the other duds have turned out to be so because of poor content.
Let's get back to the multiplex question now. Frankly, in the current times, if not for multiplexes, how many of us would dare to enter a single screen theater, especially the ones that are standing from pre-historic times. A select few are renovated with the passage of time but most of the single screen theaters across the country still suffer from pigeons flying across the screen, shabby corridors, stinky restrooms, poor quality popcorn, unruly parking attendants, disinterested box office attendant, poor sound quality, uneasy chairs, hazy projection and in nutshell an unsatisfying movie watching experience.
It has been due to multiplexes that family audiences as well as yuppy crowds have at least started making it a ritual to visit multiplexes every week, provided (and it's a big 'provided' here) the movie is worth a watch. Yes, ticket rates have gone up to Rs. 200/250/300 here which makes one think twice before shelling out such amount of money, but then if a film is exciting enough, they don't mind it either.
So if a 8X10 Tasveer flops and (most likely) sees itself folding up with collections less than that of Dev D, it's not the multiplex rates that are a deterrent, it's the movie itself. Because if that was not the case, films like A Wednesday, Phoonk, 1920, Welcome To Sajjanpur, Mumbai Meri Jaan and Aamir (all of which released last year) wouldn't have been able to find any audience and turn into box office successes.
Why am I bringing these films into picture here? Because not a single one of them on the face value gave any hint of succeeding at the box office when their release date was announced. It was the audience that lapped up to these films and reached out to multiplexes (with the same high ticket rates as have been applicable for any other biggie) to make these films a success.
So the question is, when these films didn't suffer from lack of audience in multiplexes, why are Chandni Chowk To China, Delhi 6, Billu, 8X10 Tasveer and a dozen odd medium budget films not seeing an audience turnout? Well, the answer lies in the write-up above!
Another logic that is floating around is 'recession'! In fact Karzzzz was one of the first films in last six months that had this excuse being coined for the film's failure. It has been said ever since then that audience is not interested in watching movies anymore because they are spending money wisely. So yes, 'wisely' is the keyword here. Money is being spent carefully but it isn't like movies are not being watched at all.
Ever since the release of Karzzzz and the months gone by, recession has only worsened further. But then in the same phase, we have seen movies like Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi and Ghajini turning into monster blockbusters and that too by arriving almost together at the box office. Fashion and Golmaal Returns too were money spinners and so has been Raaz - The Mystery Continues this year. If a film has been good, it has worked. Period. And let's not even say that the aforementioned names were guaranteed successes due to big names involved. After all we have seen big names failing to even bring in face saving collections over the months gone by. Hence, there is nothing like a sure-shot 'opening' mantra!
Point in simple. Let's stop blaming multiplexes and recession as the reason behind Bollywood seeing its worst time at the box office at least in this decade. If films are good, die hard movie buffs as well as 'aam junta' looking for their weekly dose of entertainment would be willing to shell out money at multiplexes even in current times. In fact why look too much in future? Come May and we may as well see Akshay Kumar himself having the last laugh with Kambakkth Ishq arriving on 29th (tentative).
Hopefully, then we won't have to build any excuse and the film would turn out to be success across multiplexes as well as single screens!