This Diwali, in a theatre near you
Dil To Pagal Hai, Veer-Zaara, Jab Tak Hai Jaan , Krrish 3 or Happy New Year. When most people are busy with rituals and festivities, why is there such a mad scramble to release films in the Diwali week?brunch Updated: Oct 19, 2014 19:40 IST
Roshan was confused. Should he release Krrish 3 on the Friday just before Diwali when the box office would be just so-so, or release it on Sunday – Diwali itself – or even on Monday, the Hindu New Year’s Day?
After much back and forth, he eventually took my advice – and that of his distributors – and released Krrish 3 on Friday. A good decision, he acknowledged later, when the film pulled in Rs 65 crore at the box office over Friday, Saturday and Sunday, something he’d have never seen if it had been released on Sunday.
A year has 52 weeks, and almost all of the 200 films released annually, open in theatres on Friday. For filmmakers, the most coveted weeks for a release are those that include Diwali, Ramzan-Eid, Christmas, Republic Day and Independence Day. The box office seems to buzz during these periods.
Christmas is a relatively new addition to this list. While it’s not perceived as a huge holiday period in India, it is one abroad, where the eight-day-long festivities give Hindi film lovers plenty of time to catch the latest Bollywood release.
Also read: Shah Rukh Khan and Deepika Padukone in conversation with Vir Sanghvi
On Ramzan-Eid, it’s well known that Muslim audiences go to the cinema in large numbers after their weeks of abstinence.
But why is Diwali a bountiful period for the box office? After all, aren’t Hindus busy with Laxmi puja at home and in offices? Don’t people visit family and friends to wish them a happy new year the day after Diwali? And aren’t brothers and sisters busy with the Bhai Duj celebrations the day after that?
That’s three days of pujas and rituals, so why is there such a mad scramble to release films in the Diwali week? Why is actor Shah Rukh Khan so excited about saying ‘Happy New Year’ to the world with his film Happy New Year?
Are you ready? In keeping with his past releases, SRK’s Happy New Year will also open on Diwali
But this is not a new trend. For years, producers have released their big-ticket entertainers in the week of the festival of lights because the occasion is supposed to add to a film’s revenue by anywhere between 10 and 15 per cent.
Legendary filmmaker Yash Chopra would invariably choose this festive week for his films if he could manage it. Whether it was his Dil To Pagal Hai (1997) or Veer-Zaara (2004) or even his last film, Jab Tak Hai Jaan (2012), they were all released in the Diwali week.
Also read:The real Shah Rukh Khan
And because Shah Rukh Khan has acted in so many films made by the Yash Raj banner, by default, the Diwali week has become a Shah Rukh Khan week, just as the Eid week has become synonymous with Salman Khan and the Christmas week with Aamir Khan.
Shah Rukh’s Ra.One (2011) hit the screens on Diwali. His Chennai Express (2013) was also being readied for release during Diwali 2013 but when it was clear that Salman wouldn’t be ready with his Jai Ho by Eid 2013, filmmaker Rohit Shetty and Shah Rukh Khan sped up Chennai Express and brought it to the cinemas for Eid last year, instead of Diwali. And that gave Rakesh Roshan the chance to release his Krrish 3 on Diwali.
Of course, a Diwali release does not guarantee success. But Diwali can change a film’s fortunes. The increase in footfalls in this period means that any film has at least a decent chance of not failing entirely, and a film that might do averagely well in any other week has a fighting chance of becoming an actual earning proposition.
Shah Rukh Khan’s Ra.One may have gone down in cinema history as an average grosser had it not released during Diwali. But thanks to Diwali, it crossed the average mark and emerged a winner because collections jumped on and after Diwali day.
Ajay Devgn and Rohit Shetty’s All The Best that released on Diwali 2009 started terribly slowly but the festive days – and good word-of-mouth reports – gave it such a boost that what seemed to be a losing film ultimately made profits for the investors.
That’s why the Diwali week will always be one of the most coveted weeks of the year for film releases. Diwali’s soundtrack of firecrackers is, in a way, an assurance to the film industry that the chances of a film bombing during this period are minuscule.
Komal Nahta is a film trade analyst and the editor of the film trade journal, Film Information
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From HT Brunch, October 19
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