It was a toss up between Sivaji: The Boss and Jhoom Barabar Jhoom, and the choice was clear. Bewigged Tamil idol Rajnikant showed he was truly the Boss, with his film soaring in the first week at the box-office, while the much-awaited multistarrer from the Yash Raj stable fell flat after the initial hype.
The Hindi musical with an enviable star cast of not only both the Bachchans but also Preity Zinta, Lara Dutta and Bobby Deol dealt another ominous blow for Bollywood, whose chances of reversing this year's low revenue collections seem to be slipping away.
Sivaji, about an NRI who wants to do something for the country saw Rajnikant sport blonde hair and do extreme theatrics that would put the makers of Matrix to shame, and the glossy Jhoom Barabar Jhoom by Shaad Ali Sehgal were released on the same date.<b1>
Though they were touted to fetch this summer's biggest openings, only Sivaji is living up to the promise with tickets still sold out in most theatres. Yash Raj's Jhoom Barabar on the other hand is already running empty seats, theatre owners say.
Rajnikant's movie is not only reaping in profits at home, but is also a runaway hit at the British box-office while the Amitabh Bachchan starrer received an average opening.
Sivaji is being shown on 12 screens in Britain and has collected Rs.136 million, one of the biggest collections ever made by an Indian movie in the country. Jhoom Barabar the other hand has only managed to accumulate around Rs 23 million despite being shown on 47 screens.
Rajnikant's film has also overtaken Hollywood biggies like Fantastic Four, Ocean's 13 and Pirates of the Caribbean - At World's End in UK in terms of screen average in revenue collection.
Shaad Ali's film has received moderate openings in the US and Australia where it has fetched Rs 18.5 million and Rs 3 million respectively.
"The negative reviews, backed by poor script, is killing Jhoom Barabar...' As far as Sivaji'is concerned, it too does not have a great script, but is doing extraordinarily only because of Rajnikant, who has god-like status among his fans," trade pundit Suleman Mobhani told IANS.
"Films become successful when word of mouth works. For Jhoom, it is very negative. For Sivaji, Rajni's presence is enough to make the fans throng the theatres."
For Bollywood, the failure of Jhoom Barabar is bad news that further hits this year's collections. The industry, which is struggling with low returns in the first half of this year, a contrast to last year's windfall, had pinned its hopes on the film to revive box-office fortunes.
But Shaad Ali's film is proving to be a great summer let-down.<b2>
"The flat opening of Jhoom Barabar yet again proves that audiences are not going to the theatres to check out who's starring in the film. There has to be content and unfortunately this film's only USP is its music," Mobhani said.
"And Sivaji will continue to do well because Rajnikant - like Aamir - is a mania among his fans, who wait for two years for his film to release, and what we are seeing now is the result of that wait."