On Friday Shabana Azmi could have been part of three films. If sources are to be believed she was offered three of the films released on February 1. They were Mahesh Kodiyal's Mai, Avinash Kumar Singh's Listen...Amaya and Deepa Mehta's Midnight's Children. Shabana Azmi accepted only Mehta's film which has received a lukewarm reception.
The other two emotionally-galvanized films are struggling for survival at the box office. For no fault of theirs. They came in a cluster along with Kamal Haasan's Vishwaroop which is the only film among the plethora of releases to get an audience.
The question that every sane film-loving member of the film fraternity should ask is, what is the rationale behind releasing as many as 4-5 films on one Friday? Is the audience expected to see so many films during the same week?
No, says trade expert Taran Adarsh. "When will producers learn from their mistakes? Too many movies clashing on the same Friday does affect the overall business. I fail to understand the mad rush to release so many films during the same week. The common man has no time, money or inclination to watch so many films in a week. The business is bound to suffer."
On the other hand, Vikram Malhotra, the CEO of the thriving production company Viacom 18 thinks the audiences' buying capacity at the box office window remains undiminished.
Says Malhotra, "There is a healthy trend of movie-goers flocking to theatres. But it only happens with the films that connect with audiences. They won't come to the theatres just because films are bound to be released every Friday. Consumers are more value-conscious than ever before. They totally reject films that don't seem to be worth their time and money."
Malhotra sees no harm in a bunch of films being released on the same Friday. "If 2 or 3 good films would release together they would all get their due provided the content engages." One solution to the surfeit of releases on Friday is the Direct To Home (DTH) facility whereby the more intimate character-based films like Mai and Listen... Amaya could be premiered directly to homes via satellite.
Unfortunately, in India a straight-to-the-small-screen premiere is still considered an insult to the product.