Anubha Sawhney | TNN
When the curtains will fall on Hindi cinema in 2007, one man will be remembered for giving the rather slow first half a semblance of respectability. You can keep your hat on, Himesh, 'cos we're taking ours off to you. The buzz is that Friday's release Aap Kaa Surroor has had an opening larger than that of Dhoom 2. And that's no mean feat.
But that's about all that went right these past six months. While the biggies bowed out with alarming regularity, it was the small-budget films that made a splash. If Jan- brought good news to Mani Ratnam was a hit) it spelled doom for Nikhil . ''I think Salaam-e-Ishq's length and editing made the difference," says -based distributor Sanjay Mehta.
Cut to February, when Traffic Signal, Friday and Honeymoon Travels ï¿½ all multiplex films ï¿½ made merry at the box office. Vidhu Vinod Chopra's Eklavya: The Royal Guard got rave reviews, but bombed. Says trade analyst Indu Mirani, ''Vidhu might have had success with Munna Bhai but audiences now have no holy cows. They're ruthless.'' Funjabi boy Akshay Kumar and NRI kudi Katrina Kaif set cash registers ringing in March in a Bollywood meets Britain drama that brought on the seetis. Vipul Shah's Namastey London was the year's first big budget film that appealed to the janta. March also saw Jiah Khan strutting her stuff in Nishabd. But it still failed. ''It wasn't a film families could watch,'' says Mehta. April added a new term to Hinglish as Bheja Fry sent producer Sunil Doshi laughing all the way to the bank. Bheja Fry was made for Rs 60 lakh and none of the actors were paid their fee. Today, director Sagar Ballary has signed a three-film deal with Sahara. In contrast was Ta Ra Rum Pum. Despite the Yash Raj banner, it was an average hit.
Mega May opened with the bold Life In a Metro, got bloody with Shootout At Lokhandwala and finally settled with bittersweet Cheeni Kum. Exploring a variety of genres, all three movies did great business. Says director Rakeyesh Mehra. ''Maybe predictable cinema has not cut ice with the audience but it's not that we haven't had hits. The creative seed sowed last year will bear fruit soon."
But May belonged to a friendly visitor from overseas. Spider-Man 3 created box-office magic as it opened to a record Rs 19.2 crore at the Indian box-office, over the May 4th to 6th weekend. The friendly neighborhood superhero returned to Indian shores in a penta-lingual (English, Hindi, Bhojpuri, Tamil, Telugu) avatar amidst much fanfare.
Swinging his way into theatres, Spidey smashed every possible record in the Hollywood category in India. Grossing Rs 64.5 crore in India, it washed away all records set by the 1998 film Titanic (Rs 55 crore). ''The fact that the film opened at the heart of the holiday season and was localised in four languages gave it greater reach and playability,'' says Vikramjit Roy, head (publicity), Sony Pictures Releasing India.
Come June and India got ready to Jhoom Barabar Jhoom. Slick promos, catchy music, a solid star cast ï¿½ the movie was pitted as YRF's superhit of the year. ''JBJ is all gloss, no substance. Body beautiful, minus soul,'' says trade analyst Taran Adarsh. Confirms Ranjan Singh, GM (marketing) PVR Cinemas, ''JBJ opened well and had good collections. Sadly there's no sustainability and it's lost momentum in the third week.''
While JBJ is struggling to find its feet it's the other June 15 release that's making Indians sit up and take notice. ''We've had 600 shows of Sivaji in PVRs alone and the movie has made Rs 1.5 crore in the first two weeks itself,'' reveals Ranjan Singh. The buzz is Sivaji has already glided across the Rs 100 crore mark in the first two weeks and will notch up another 50. Says Nambirajan, who's distributing the film in North and West India, ''Two years ago, Rajni's Chandramukhi was a superhit. One can say Sivaji has done more than twice its business already. We're showing in Surat, Sholapur, Bhiwandi, Calcutta, Pune, Indore, Baroda, Aurangabad, Latur... Sivaji is already in all UK Top Ten lists as well.''
An SMS that's doing the rounds sums up the frenzy: 'The all-India cycle, scooter and car parking collections at theatres screening Sivaji have exceeded the box office collections of Jhoom Barabar Jhoom'. Touche!
T H E W I N N E RS
Spider-Man 3 Rs 64.5 Cr
Sivaji* Rs 100 Cr
* Based on trade estimates for 14 days
T H E LO S E RS
Jhoom Barabar Jhoom*
Rs 9.60 cr
* Still running
Eklavya Rs 10.38 cr
Rs 11.65 cr
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