Thank God, Dhaakad producer Deepak Mukut says controversies affect box office collections: 'These reactions multiply'
Film producer Deepak Mukut talks about his latest release Thank God and the expectations he had from it, while also opening up about his other productions like Dhaakad.
Film producer Deepak Mukut has had a busy year. He has seen four releases in 2022 under his banner Soham Rockstar Films and there are a few more in the pipeline. But while some have worked, others have not and some have even found them in the midst of controversies. In a freewheeling chat with Hindustan Times recently, the filmmaker spoke candidly about managing expectations, the lure of theatrical releases, and how controversies affect films like Thank God and Dhaakad. Also read: Ajay Devgn, Sidharth Malhotra named in case filed against Thank God
Thank God, starring Ajay Devgn and Sidharth Malhotra, was the latest of Deepak’s films to release this year. The film hit the screens after Diwali, clashing with Akshay Kumar’s Ram Setu. However, the film opened to mixed reviews and below average box office collections. In the nine days since its release, it has earned just ₹33 crore nett across India. Talking about the expectations from Thank God, Deepak says, “We expected the film to do middling, above average business. I always knew that this was not a blockbuster but it was a good film, in my mind, a clean comedy with the power to draw an audience. So we hoped to draw in the family audience.”
Thank God faced some controversies prior to release with a number of people going to court against it, claiming the film hurt their sentiments. The film had Ajay playing Chitragupt, the deity of records in the Hindu mythology, and the portrayal seemed indecent to a section of audience. Reacting to it, Deepak says, “Cinema is very subjective. What might be the favourite of one person, the other may not like at all. So it is like that. People look at things differently. I don’t think there was anything problematic in the film. I think we made a good, clean comedy but some people had different opinions and that is ok.”
But do such controversies affect how a film does at the box office? Would he attribute Thank God doing below par to the negative press generated by the news reports of the court cases? Deepak has a two-part response to this. “In the end, it’s the content that either works or doesn’t. That is what matters. So these controversies affect but not a lot. Yes, some effect is there because one person says something and people who think like them do get affected by that. Then these reactions can multiply,” he says.
But while Thank God did decently, another of Deepak’s films did far worse. Kangana Ranaut-starrer Dhaakad did not even manage to break the ₹10-crore barrier despite a huge budget and publicity. Ask him what his learnings from that project are and Deepak laughs, saying, “I don’t think anything worries me anymore after Dhaakad. We make a film leaving no stone unturned. But sometimes, it does not come out the way the audience likes it. You can’t always be right. Even the biggest of filmmakers give flops. So that’s ok. My learning there is to trust my instincts and continue backing projects that I believe in.”
Three of his releases this year so far, and one upcoming, have all been theatrical. In an era where most filmmakers are moving to the OTT, Deepak says he does not want to take the route. “There is a thrill, an experience of watching a film in the theatre that I want to keep alive,” he says, adding, “I want to make movies for the cinema experience. So unless, majboori ho koi (there is some compulsion), I won’t go the OTT route. Of course, there will be exceptions but I primarily see cinema as a theatrical experience.”