By Taran Adarsh
Some incidents in the past week that you readers ought to know...
At a private screening of Khakee, exactly three days before the film's theatrical release, Rekha went up to Rajkumar Santoshi and touched his feet at the conclusion of the screening. “Sir, aapne mujhse aisa behtereen kaam kyon nahin nikalvaya?” she asked. (Express yourself: Which is the best film of the week? Khakee or Aetbaar?)
The private screening of this multi-starrer was attended by the likes of Rekha, Tabu, Govinda, producers Gaffarbhai Nadiadwala and Firoz A. Nadiadwala and this writer.
At yet another private screening organised by Abhishek Bachchan for his colleagues within the industry, the compliments seemed never-ending.
The word was spreading…
The terms paid by the exhibitors to distributors to screen the film were unheard of. At places, the terms were higher than the record terms fetched by L.O.C.
The press was not far behind. The film fetched glowing reviews from all reputed critics — a rarity these days! Even the public response has been more than positive…
But what may be considered 'hot' within the film industry may not necessarily be 'hot' with the paying public.
Khakee did not open to an 'earth-shattering' response. The opening ranged between 90% and 100% at places, but was not as expected at a few centres.
The colossal star cast of the film, besides the credibility of the star-director, should've ensured a massive opening for the film. The film should've set new records on its opening day/opening weekend.
Plus, let's not forget, a week like this is a rarity. It wasn't a 3-day weekend, it was a 4-day weekend, with Monday being a holiday as well [Republic Day]. What more could a producer ask for?
With an enviable star cast and the content to match, Khakee was touted as the first blockbuster of 2004, but… Alas!
Khakee is faring very well in certain parts of the country, but is not as strong at a few places as well. While the collections are rock-steady at some centres, they've dipped at places, which is not an encouraging sign.
On the other hand, Aetbaar opened to a lukewarm response everywhere. A section of the industry was optimistic that the film might pick up in the subsequent days, but nothing of the sort happened.
May be, Aetbaar par audience ko aetbaar thha hi nahin!
I strongly feel that Aetbar would've opened anywhere between 70% and 90% had it been a solo release. But the clash with KHAKEE proved quite expensive, with the film registering a record low opening for a Bachchan starrer.
Two weeks ago, I had made a valid observation about the clashes of two 'giants' in the same week. I'd like to reproduce excerpts from the column:
“In fact, this is the third time two or more Bachchan fares are clashing so closely. I remember, as many as five Amitabh starrers were released in four weeks way back in 1978: Be-Sharam opened on April 14, Kasme Vaade on April 21, Trishul on May 5 and Don on May 12. Three out of four films proved to be super-grossers then, but let's not forget that there was no video, no television, no pirated DVDs in those days… Just radio and films!
“Then, again, two Big B starrers — Toofan [produced by Manmohan Desai] and Jadugar [directed by Prakash Mehra] — were released within two weeks of each other in 1989: Toofan on August 11 and JAADUGAR on August 25. Both bombed!
“Similarly, three Shah Rukh Khan starrers were released in three weeks in 1995 — Zamana Deewana [July 28], Oh Darling Yeh Hai India [August 11] and Guddu [also on August 11]. Strangely, all three failed to leave any kind of an impression at the box-office.
“That's not all, for the year 1995 saw three more SRK starrers releasing one after the other before it came to a close — DDLJ, on October 20, Ram Jaane on December 1 and Trimurti on December 22.
“More recently, there seems to be a 'Sanjay Dutt film festival' in progress, what with Munnabhai M B B S releasing on December 19, 2003, LOC on December 26, 2003, Plan on January 9, 2004 and Rudraksh now shifted to February 13, 2004. That means, four films in one-and-a-half months. Whew!
“Ideally, there should be a 4 or 5-month gap between two films of the same star. But will our producers learn from others' mistakes? I doubt!”
Though the box-office trends in the next two weeks will decide the fate of Khakee, there's no denying that the film industry is still yearning for that blockbuster hit to kick-start a shower of hits in the coming weeks. Indiafm