We are almost halfway through the first quarter of 2014, but Bollywood’s hit count is still thanda. Of the 14 films that have released so far, it’s only Salman Khan’s Jai Ho and Divya Khosla’s Yaariyan that have managed to do decent business.
Despite the rave reviews, Hasee Toh Phasee (HTP), which released on Friday, has collected only about Rs. 10 crore in its first weekend, thus reiterating the long-standing trend of a dismal box-office report at the start of every year.
Experts aren’t surprised. “January is always mild in terms of business. After Christmas and New Year vacations, box-office business is always on the lower side,” says Adarsh.
Indeed, while 2013 ended with huge grossers such as Krrish 3 and Dhoom: 3, 2014 so far seems to be like a lull after the storm, with January releases such as Dedh Ishqiya, Mr Joe B Carvalho, One by Two, Karle Pyaar Karle, Miss Lovely and Paranthe Wali Gali managing to collect only between Rs. 1 crore to Rs. 30 crore.
Apart from Hasee..., the other two February releases — Heartless and Ya Rab — also haven’t impressed in terms of business.
“January has been a loss-making month this year too, but that has been a norm for many years. We always have a slow start and then the momentum picks up,” says trade analyst Atul Mohan, adding, “Last year, too, we had only Table No 21 and Race 2 in break-even brackets. Even in 2012, we had only Agneepath as a major hit while the other 10 releases of that month were washouts.”
Film distributors agree on the coldwave jinx. “Usually, December is a big release month... it eats up all the box office potential. In January, business is always dismal. Jai Ho and Yariyaan have still done well. So, it depends on the films. Usually, North and Eastern India is extremely cold at the beginning of the first quarter, and many prefer to wait for the cold wave to go before they release a big film,” says Girish Johar, head of distribution and acquisition of Sahara Movie studios.
Will the business pick up?
Trade analysts are hopeful that business will pick up at the box office in the next few weeks. “We expect a good volume of business from Hansee toh Phansee, Gulab Gang, Gunday and Highway as each has its own USP,” says Atul Mohan. “While Gunday is an out-and-out commercial film, Gulab Gang will see both the masses and the classes queue up,” says distributor Girish Johar.