There is only one question that’s left those few people who have heard of the film, Ashok Chakra, a little disturbed. What were the makers of this film thinking? Based on the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai, the film has released in less than 10 different theatres in Bhayander, Thane, Vasai, Kalyan and Goregaon.
Though Bhopal Shah, the box office attendant at Prince cinema, Bhayander, thinks the film is great, he is a little disappointed with the 15 to 23 tickets that they have sold over the weekend for a theatre that can seat 233 people. “Film mast thi (film was cool)… but it doesn’t seem to be doing that well… ek dum thanda hai (the box office is absolutely cold). Lets hope it picks up,” he says.
Most trade analysts have ignored the film. But the few who did see it, came out tormented and did not mince words to make that clear. “It’s a big disaster,” says Komal Nahta, a trade analyst. “I don’t think they must have spent more than a crore or two on this. It’s very low budget, very badly shot, very badly made, very badly scripted and very C -Grade.”
Vikas Mohan, the editor of Super Cinema Magazine is a little more patient, “It isn’t a commercial film. They wanted to cash in on the subject when it was hot, but it’s only turned out to be a waste of time, money and effort. It looks like a Bhojpuri film… they should have known better than to try and make something like this. They seem to have a lot of things wrong, including the content, which wasn’t even fiction,” he says.
Only for Mumbai
Meanwhile, Vinod Mirani, editor of Box Office magazine, feels that the response is as good as if the film hadn’t released at all. “They wanted to pitch the film against Raajneeti apparently. At the end of the day, there is nothing new that this film can offer; we’ve seen those clips for weeks on every single TV channel. What are they trying to do?”
Trade pundits also feel that audiences in different areas of the country may not be able relate to the film. And if the film was made strictly for city viewers, it doesn’t stand a chance of being recognised or making its money countrywide. But the current situation at the theatres shows that city audiences are not helping it become a success either.
“The response to the film is absolutely cold, we get about 30 to 35 people in a theatre that can seat more than 1,050 people. The audience looks bored and a lot of people leave half way through the film too,” says Imran Sheikh, from Alishan cinema in Thane.
Public feels cheated
Though the film is apparently doing well in a few theatres like Sharda Cinema, Dadar. Owner Praful Gandhi says: “We have registered about a 50 per cent collection. But the only problem is that because the film is so short, they have not captured all the incidents of 26/11. The public feels cheated since they have only shown one or two episodes, like the one at VT station and the hotels. They should have made it longer.”
However, Dilip Dhanwani, exhibitor from Alankar cinema, Girgaon, is the only one who claims that he may keep the film running for another week: “We have had a consistent 80 per cent occupancy and people really seem to be enjoying it. The only problem is that the film was not publicised and promoted properly… but it should pick up.”
As for now, these theatres are the only ones contributing to the recovery of the movie’s investment, but trade analysts feel that the film, which will be pulled off most theatres in a few days, stands no chance of breaking even.
“They must have spent about 70 to 90 lakhs in making it, and there is no way they can even get close to recovering their money,” insists Mohan.
The film begins with Ajmal Kasab’s (Rajan Verma) life at the LeT training centre and then follows him and his accomplices to the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks. His arrival on Mumbai shores, as reported by the media during the actual coverage, with his nine partners has been duplicated at the locations. The film recreates select episodes of the night where members of the Mumbai Police — Hemant Karkare (Homi Wadia), Tukarum Ombale (Ashok Samarth), Ashok Kamte (Amit Behl), Salaskar (Sudesh Berry) — and several other law enforcement officers held fort, and eventually lost their lives. The second half of the film is about Kasab’s year-long trial and his eventual death, staged according to the filmmaker.
Starring: Rajan Verma, Aroon Bakshi, Ashok Samarth, Mushtaq Khan, Homi Wadia, Sudesh Berry and Amit Behl
Directed by: SP Muneshwar
Places where Ashok Chakra is playing
PVR Goregaon, Mulund
Movie Star, Goregaon
Sharda Cinema, Dadar
Alankar Cinema, Girgaon
KT Multivision Cinema, Vasai, Thane
Ashok Anil Cinema, Thane
Joker Cinema, Kalyan
Alishan Cinema, Thane
Prince Cinema, Bhayandar
Amar Cinema, Chembur