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Diwali releases this year are lacklustre

The festival of light, which was expected to give three dhamaka hits on the weekend, instead brought a lackluster response for Blue, Main Aurr Mrs Khanna and All the Best—the three films that opened with great expectation during the Diwali weekend.

entertainment Updated: Oct 22, 2009 17:47 IST
Hiren Kotwani

The festival of light, which was expected to give three dhamaka hits on the weekend, instead brought a lackluster response for Blue, Main Aurr Mrs Khanna and All the Best—the three films that opened with great expectation during the Diwali weekend.

Till Monday, Blue remained ahead, thanks to the advance booking that opened two weeks before its release.

But close on its heels is the Ajay Devgan starrer All The Best, that opened to decent reviews and picked up its business on Saturday.

“On Friday, the collections of All The Best were only 60 per cent of Blue, but it picked up on Saturday,” Devang Sampat, Senior Vice-President, Cinemax.

“By Saturday evening, the collections for All the Best were at par with those of Blue and maintained the status on Sunday too,” says Sampat, adding, “On Monday, All The Best registered 25 per cent more than Blue. Main Aurr Mrs Khanna has been rather slow, drawing in the loyal love story audience and die-hard Salman Khan fans.”

But, veteran trade analyst Amod Mehra remains unimpressed.

“Blue opened with 70 per cent, All The Best with 50 per cent, but picked up soon while Main Aurr Mrs Khanna opened with 30 per cent only. This is certainly not good enough for a Diwali weekend! Friday wasn’t good, Saturday was better and Sunday was good. If this good time continues, then it will be beneficial to the industry too,” he says, adding that a clearer picture would emerge only by Wednesday morning.

However, Mehra maintains that All The Best is the best bet of the three.

“If it continues its good run in the coming days because of its comic content All The Best could be a hit,” says Mehra, “because the audience just wants to have a good laugh and enjoy with their families.”

He feels that people queuing up for Blue are curious about the underwater action sequences, but is not sure if it will hold their attention for long.

Sustaining collections
Sampat echoes Mehra’s sentiment. “All The Best will sustain itself in the second week too,” he says though he isn’t so sure about Blue.

“The audience feedback about Blue is rather mixed, though people are watching it once for the impressive cast and also the curiosity about underwater stunts,” notes Sampat.

Manoj Desai, owner of Gaiety-Galaxy (G7 Multiplex) and Maratha Mandir cinemas tells us that his properties have registered nearly 100 per cent for Blue, about 85 per cent for All The Best and 60 per cent for Main Aurr Mrs Khanna.

“But these are like passing showers. I’ll be watching them carefully from Tuesday onwards,” he says.

Since this is not good enough for a Diwali weekend, we wonder what exactly went against these films?
Mehra attributes it to a lack of content. “Obscene amounts of money have been pumped into the publicity and promotion of these films. So much so, that they could have made another film or two with that money,” says Mehra.

“Merely spending on publicity doesn’t work. If the product is not exciting enough, no one will watch it. It’s wrong to assume that more the hype built up around a film, more people will line up to watch it,” observes Mehra, adding, “The
collections of the Diwali weekend proved that people don’t go by the number of ads, but judge it for its quality. If it’s not good enough, then it doesn’t work.”

On the other hand, Gaurav Verma of PVR, who are distributing Blue in Delhi, UP and Punjab feels that the underwater action adventure will sustain the second week too.

Race for the top-spot
Although he admits that the film didn’t register a drop on Monday as it was a holiday, Verma says, “Tuesday afternoon continues to be as good as Monday afternoon. We’ll see how we can increase the number of shows for Blue in the second week.”

But, Shaaminder Malik, a North India distributor is playing a wait-and-watch game. He feels that although Blue opened well, All The Best will score higher in the end.

“The Ajay Devgan-Sanjay Dutt-Fardeen Khan comedy will lure people who want to see something light and funny,” says Malik, adding, “Now, Katrina Kaif is also being highlighted in the promos, that is helping Blue. I feel All The Best will have a safe run for two weeks but I can’t say the same for Blue at this point.”

“I’m 100 per cent sure that All The Best will work in the second week too,” agrees Sampat.

“But I can talk about the fate of Blue only on Wednesday. Of the Rs 4 crore that Cinemax has earned over the first four days, All The Best and Blue have collected Rs 1.60 crore each, while Main Aurr Mrs Khanna has raked in Rs 80 lakh only,” he says.

Another reason Mehra attributes to the not-so-encouraging figures, is the multiplex strike earlier this year.

“This has led to multiple releases at one time. But despite so many choices, people aren’t really enthusiastic about these films. If only our producers and directors spent more money on the basic element—putting a good story together instead of the publicity and promotion,” concludes Mehra.

Diwali week openings
Blue: Opened with 70-100 per cent collections, but slowed down on Saturday due to Diwali. Picked up again on Sunday with 95 per cent occupancy. Trade sources noted a slight drop (5 to 10 per cent) on Tuesday.

All The Best: Started slow with about 50 per cent, but picked up on Saturday with 65 to 70 per cent occupancy. Crossed 90 per cent on Sunday and maintained the status on Monday and Tuesday too.

Main Aurr Mrs Khanna: Opened with the least collections of barely 30 per cent Though it is said to have registered 35 per cent on Saturday, Sunday brought no significant increase in the collections, though some centers saw 40 per cent occupancy. The film saw the biggest drop of the three Diwali releases on Monday and Tuesday.