When Shah Rukh Khan decided to release his superhero extravaganza Ra.One on Diwali day (Wednesday, October 26, 2011), audiences took a break from their Diwali cleaning to wonder whether the superstar was taking a gamble. In the first five days, Ra.One garnered `91.10 crore in India alone (at the time of going to press), and press reports have exclaimed at the record-breaking ‘biggest Diwali day opening’ and ‘the biggest ever weekend release for both India and the overseas box office’. SRK’s gamble seems to have paid off. He is, for now at least, the leading Khan at the Bollywood box office, having trounced Salman Khan who held pole position after his Eid blockbuster, Bodyguard (August 31).
Ra.One released across more than 3,000 screens in India in both 2D and 3D and was dubbed in Tamil and Telugu as well, grossing `170 crore worldwide in the opening weekend (first five days of release). However, it is Aamir Khan’s 3 Idiots that remains at a hard-to-beat number spot among the Khan triumvirate’s films. Its overall net collections are still hard to touch. But Dabangg did break the first-day and first weekend record set by 3 Idiots and then, a year later, Bodyguard trumped Dabangg. And now it’s Ra.One’s turn to upset the charts.
With each subsequent release, not only are Aamir, Salman and Shah Rukh nudging one another out of Bollywood blockbuster slots, but with the buzz around December release Don 2, Shah Rukh might be competing against his own record-breaking opening figures as well. Consider that Salman Khan has been his own closest competition in the last year – first with Dabangg hitting a high note, followed by Ready, both of which were upstaged by Bodyguard.
Trade analysts agree that the adulation and fan following for the three Khans is unmatched, and films starring any of these three mega stars guarantee an opening. "They have been ruling the box office for more than two decades. We say Aamir Khan created history with 3 Idiots, even though it was also Raju Hirani’s film," says Vajir Singh, editor Box Office India.
Examining the five-day collections of Bodyguard and Ra.One, Komal Nahta, editor, Film Information and koimoi.com, adds, "Earlier it would take a year or two for a film to break records. Now it takes a few weeks because of the number of screens and each film trying to outdo each other in terms of prints, screens and shows." Sunil Punjabi, CEO of Cinemax India Ltd, agrees. "The weekend is big because the returns are immediate. You don’t need to wait 26 weeks to make money any more." He suggests that the first two weeks’ collections are important to indicate whether a film is profitable or not.
"The opening weekend is glamour and hype; but if the film has meat it will sustain weekdays. And if it can sustain the second weekend and the second week’s days, then you know you have a success on your hands. 3 Idiots saw a dip only from the third weekend," says Punjabi. On the importance of the opening day, three-day and five-day collections, Nahta adds, "This is partly because of the number of screens and partly a result of hype. There are no second chances and the thrust is no longer on content but being able to attract the audience."
Besides Don 2, the other Khans’ films are only expected in the next financial year, so at least in 2011-12, the biggest competition to Shah Rukh and Salman will be Shah Rukh. So what is it about the three Khans that keeps them at the top of the numbers game? "Aamir guarantees the best content. Salman’s audience wants him to have a great role, good songs, look good and dance well. They are not bothered about the subject. Shah Rukh is still huge overseas. His fans want a good subject but they mostly want to see him in romantic films. If Ra.One had had that romantic angle, it might have done even better," says Nahta.
So the verdict is unanimous: a Khan is as big as his next release, and one Khan’s release is the biggest only till the next Khan’s film comes along.
Opening day: Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 5-Day Total
Ra.One Rs 18.00cr Rs 25.10cr Rs 16.00cr Rs 16.00cr Rs 16.00cr Rs 91.10cr
Bodyguard Rs 21.00cr Rs 17.50cr Rs 13.25cr Rs 14.85cr Rs 19.50cr Rs 86.10cr
3 Idiots (2009) Rs 15.75cr* Rs 12.00cr Rs 13.25cr Rs 11.00cr Rs 9.65cr R61.65cr
From HT Brunch, November 6
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