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Will Diwali be lucky for box-office?

Will the next week be a Diwali dhamaka or a flop show for the film industry? As three biggies — Blue, Main Aurr Mrs Khanna and All the Best — line-up for release, trade analysts speculate on their fate.

entertainment Updated: Oct 14, 2009 13:05 IST
Hiren Kotwani

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The festive season may have begun a couple of weeks ago, but the film industry, that has seen only a handful of hits this year is keeping its fingers firmly crossed for the long Diwali weekend that begins on October 16. The only hits in 2009, that has entered its last quarter, have been Raaz – The Mystery Continues (January), New York (June), Love Aaj Kal (August) and Wanted (September).

Three big films — All the Best, Blue and Main Aurr Mrs Khanna — are lined-up for release the coming Friday. The question is: Won’t they eat into each other’s business?

“The number of films releasing is not the issue,” says trade analyst Amod Mehra, contradicting the popular belief that more than two films coming together can result in a serious dip in revenue.

Mehra however points out that neither of three films have generated the kind of hype associated with Diwali releases like Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Kabhie Khushi Kabhi Gham, Om Shanti Om, Saawariya and Golmaal Returns to name a few. “There’s no buzz about Main Aurr Mrs Khanna, despite it being Salman Khan’s home production. He went all out to promote Wanted and the results are there for all to see,” says Mehra.

“Blue also doesn’t seem to be big on promotion, which is surprising given that it is an almost Rs 100 crore proposition, which makes it the most expensive Hindi film ever. “Singh Is Kinng and Kambakkht Ishq were better publicised,” says Mehra. “All The Best seems to be the safest bet as far as entertainment goes.”

Theatre owners like Manoj Desai (of Maratha Mandir and G-7 Multiplex) have reportedly paid an advance of Rs 10 lakh per film to individual cinema hall for the Diwali bouquet, despite reeling under losses incurred by recent flops like Dil Bole Hadippa and Do Knot Disturb.

What lies ahead?
“Even a much-anticipated film like Ashutosh Gowariker’s What’s Your Raashee? nose-dived. If anything goes wrong this Diwali, people like me will find it very difficult to recover our losses,” sighs Desai, whose apprehensions are not unfounded since the advance booking for Blue started two weeks prior to release, yet haven’t picked up.

However, Devang Sampat, VP, Marketing and Programming, Cinemax, maintains, “Only corporate bookings are on at present. The actual bookings will start only on Sunday.”

Sampat believes that the three films won’t suffer from the competition because they belong to different genres and have their own target audience.

Mehra leaves the choice to the ticket-buying audience. “This year, top stars like Aamir Khan, Shah Rukh Khan and Hrithik Roshan are missing. Yes, we do have Salman Khan, but before Wanted, he had a string of flops. We also have Akshay Kumar, but he hasn’t had a great run at the box office this year,” he reasons.

According to Mehra, Blue would be the next choice for the public after All The Best.

“An underwater adventure thriller is a novel concept for us. So Blue looks promising,” he says.

The problem with the Salman Khan-Kareena Kapoor movie Main Aurr Mrs Khanna is the Mrs Khanna in the title that gives the indication that she is someone else’s wife. “That may not go down well with some of the more conservative sections of our audience.”

Underwater thrills
While Desai shares Mehra’s scepticism on Main Aurr Mrs Khanna, he wonders if the masses will be able to appreciate the underwater thrills in Blue. “Although we’ve seen underwater action in James Bond films, Blue is our first attempt. So it remains to be seen how the tapori audience will receive it,” he says.

Mehra has an interesting observation to make: “It’s a mature Diwali for a change. All the stars are over 40 years.”

The best period for all three is from Friday to Tuesday. Considering the long weekend and the healthy competition, multiplexes should record an occupancy between 80 per cent to 100 per cent.

“Usually the first three days determine the kind of business a film will do. This time Monday is also a holiday. So from Tuesday onwards, we’ll bring out our binoculars,” says Desai.

Sampat remains optimistic: “There’s no big film (the only two being Bal Ganesh 2 and Shabaash – You can do it) coming up the following Friday. So these three films have two weeks to themselves. Besides, the Diwali vacation will be on, so expect the youngsters to flock to the theatres.”

Figures: courtesy ibosnetwork.com