Why was Striker pulled out of the theatres within a week of its release?
It wasn’t promoted with even one-tenth of the passion it was made with. The release strategy didn’t work for it. A film like this depends on word-of-mouth publicity, it needed to remain in the theatres at least through the second weekend, but despite some good reviews, it couldn’t.
Didn’t you know it was being pulled out?
We were flooded with calls asking why the film was not playing anywhere. That’s how I found out. This generally only happens if the film’s a flop. We never had any doubts about our product or its potential, but the marketing and promotions did not reflect this.
Can we expect a re-release?
Those who went to the theatres, to buy tickets only to be told that the film was no longer playing, are not going to go back. We don’t have a phone-back system, so the demand for the film can’t reach the ears of the distributors. I’m not sure what can be done now.
There are huge financial constraints. The publicity kicked in only two weeks before the film opened. A re-release would add to the financial risk now. But I am content with the encouraging response the film got. As a director, I’m very proud of Striker. But as a producer, I feel I have slipped up. Shortcomings in the system have prevented me from giving my film a decent release.
What was behind Studio 18’s decision to abruptly cut short Striker’s innings?
I have had no clarification from them so far. Whatever the reasons, it’s disappointing, given the reaction of the 6.7 lakh people who have watched it on YouTube, on a small screen.
The deal with YouTube was cracked only a week before the release. The hype was minimal, yet so many people outside India, where we had a ‘protected’ release, saw the film on the Internet.
I read on a website that a group of people in Australia woke up at 5 am, so that they could watch the film together with their friends in Europe and US and later share their comments.
How profitable was the YouTube release?
I don’t know the exact nature of the deal, but from the messages I got, I’m told it was being called a “gold mine.” If they were going to be satisfied with only 25,000 hits on YouTube in a week, they must have been overwhelmed to have double that figure in a day, that too, on the Internet.
Despite being an award winning editor, why didn’t you edit your own film?
And deprive myself of using another brain? I would have opted for smoother cuts, and missed out on the raw edginess that has given the film a distinctive appeal.
Was it necessary to bring in the underworld angle in the film?
We’d collected a lot of data during the research for a docu-drama, based on the gangs of Mumbai in the ’70s-’80s. That’s when we stumbled across this ghetto in Malwani. We decided to weave some of this material into a story about a carrom player. It is not a popular sport and is usually played by jobless people and those from the underworld. So there was a perfect mix.
I am working on a love story with Siddharth.