Trade Espresso: So far, not so good

Updated on Feb 18, 2008 03:12 PM IST
Jodhaa Akbar, directed by Ashutosh Gowariker and produced by UTV, opened to a mixed response and the reviews also found the critics divided, reports Vajir Singh.
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None | ByVajir Singh, Mumbai

It has been a heartening start-off to the magnum opus Jodhaa Akbar, which is believed to have been made at a cost of Rs 40 crore.

There has been a blank-out on its release in Rajasthan. Rajput group shave protested against the alleged distortion of historical facts vis-à-vis the alliance of the Mughal emperor and the Rajput princess.

There were plans to release the film in over 30 cinema halls across the desert state, but so far there has been a stalemate.

Mixed response
To come to the audience reaction, the film directed by Ashutosh Gowariker and produced by UTV, opened to a mixed response. The reviews also found the critics divided. To compound the situation, the film wasn’t touched by the multiplexes on the opening day, except by the PVR chain of multiplexes.

Reason: disagreement over the terms of profit sharing between the ‘plex owners and UTV. Incidentally, the film was not sold to any distributing concern; the negotiations with Reliance for Rs 90 crore for world rights didn’t work out.

Hence, UTV released the film on its own on a ‘commission’ basis. The one-day absence from the larger chain of multiplexes was obviously as setback.

Even after the deadlock ended and the film opened at the multiplexes on Saturday, noon show onwards, the opening was nothing to crow about.

At the single screen theatres, Jodhaa Akbar opened in the range of 30 to 40 per cent on the first day’smorning and noon shows, registering a rise in the later shows with the collections crawling towards 50 per cent.

Low point
However, in the small centres, box office figures were in the alarmingly low range of 20 to 30 per cent on the improvement and didn’t witness much of an improvement on Saturday either. Although several satellite channels aired news items and programmes, claiming that the film had been accepted by “one and all”, its business indicates that the Mughal epic has opened to a below-average response.

According to the trade, the feedback from the audience has not been positive, because of the film’s length of three hours-20 minutes and tortoise slow pace.

Silver lining
Overseas, the response has been relatively better than it has been home turf. Another silver lining is that no other big film has been pegged for release during the next two weeks.

Yet with all the pros and cons considered, it will be difficult for the magnum opus to recover its high investment. Rohit Jugraj’s Super Star, which released last week, has been a dud across the country.

With positive word-of-mouth, the collections of Mithya picked up at the multiplexes.The edgy comedy directed by Rajat Kapoor is now doing good business in cities like Mumbai and Delhi.

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