Diwali hasn't been all that crackling for Bollywood. Of more than 30 films released in the past decade during the festival, less than a dozen elicited fireworks at the box office. But this year seems promising with Jab Tak Hai Jaan (JTHJ) and Son Of Sardaar (SOS) lined up to hit the screens Nov 13, Diwali day itself.
Both are biggies. JTHJ is Yash Chopra's last directorial venture, starring Shah Rukh Khan, Katrina Kaif and Anushka Sharma, while SOS is a comic caper with Ajay Devgn, Sanjay Dutt and Sonakshi Sinha in key roles. Chopra's sudden death Oct 21, before he could can the last song for the film in the Swiss Alps, has generated more interest in JTHJ, expected to be the last reflection of his kind of romantic, sensitive and picture perfect cinema.
The film is expected to set the cash registers ringing -- given the past record of Shah Rukh's Diwali releases, including Baazigar (1993), Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995), Dil To Pagal Hai (1997), Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998), Veer-Zaara (2004), Don: The Chase Begins Again (2006) and Om Shanti Om (2007).
But those appeared to be the exceptions. Shah Rukh's Mohabbatein (2000) and mega-budget RA.One (2011), released around the festival, didn't quite ruffle up the ticket counters beyond the opening weekend.
All in all, Diwali hasn't brought much 'Lakshmi' to Hindi films, even if the festive season is considered to be a good time to release films, given the holiday mood. Some films indeed went on to be winners but most tanked at the box office.
Of the three films - RA.One, Tell Me O Kkhuda and Damadamm! - released around Diwali last year, the latter two were hardly visible due to the extensive promotion of Shah Rukh's Rs.150 crore budget entertainer. If the first two bombed, even RA.One failed to generate the expected response.
In 2010, it was a clash of comedies - the multi-starrer Golmaal 3 and Akshay Kumar-Aishwarya Rai's Action Replayy. Golmaal 3 took the lion's share, but the latter was a damp squib.
A year before that came three films - comedy All The Best, underwater action drama Blue and Salman Khan-starrer Main Aur Mrs. Khanna. Only All The Best managed a profit, the other two were doomed despite the hoopla.
Cut to 2008. Four movies - Fashion, Golmaal Returns, Roadside Romeo and Heroes - were in competition during the festival of lights. The success ratio was 50-50 at the box office with Roadside Romeo and Heroes turning turtle at the ticket window.
Two biggies clashed at the box office in 2007. Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Saawariya, the much-awaited launch pad for two Kapoors - Ranbir and Sonam - released along with Farah Khan's Om Shanti Om, which had the ever charming Shah Rukh with debutante Deepika Padukone. Saawariya sank without a trace. Om Shanti Om, a typical Bollywood potboiler complete with the jazz, colour, dance and music, was a mega hit.
Ditto in 2006 when Shah Rukh-starrer Don: The Chase Begins Again, a modern-day remake of Amitabh Bachchan's 1978 film Don, released alongside Shirish Kunder's directorial debut Jaan-E-Mann. Despite the presence of Akshay Kumar, Salman Khan and Preity Zinta, Kunder's ambitious project fell flat at the box office.
There were three Diwali releases in 2005 - Garam Masala, Kyon Ki... and Shaadi No. 1. Unfortunately, the last two got a cold shoulder from the moive buffs, making it a dull Diwali for investors and distributors.
Although SRK-starrer cross-border romance Veer-Zaara got thumbs up from critics when it released in 2004, the footfalls were not overwhelming and Ram Gopal Varma's Naach sank without a trace. Aitraaz, a thriller from Abbas-Mustan's stable, which also came out at that time, was however a winner.
Box-office business was dull in the three years before that, thanks to films like Pinjar, Sssshhh and Raja Bhaiya in 2003; Jeena Sirf Merre Liye, Waah Tera Kya Kehna and Annarth in 2002; and Tera Mera Saath Rahen, Deewanapan and Yeh Zindagi Ka Safar in 2001.
Only Pinjar got critical acclaim. The rest came and went.