Friday, December 30, 2011

The 100 Crores Club!

By Anant Mathur (December 30, 2011)

2011 might well be the most successful year in the history of Bollywood or at least the last 3 decades. It was only 4 years ago that Ghajini became the first film to cross the 100 crores nett collections mark, since then one film per year has crossed 100 crores. Never before has more than one film crossed 100 crores in any year. 2011, not only gave us one or two but five films which crossed the 100 crores mark. Other notable films which just barely missed the mark were Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara and The Dirty Picture - making it a truly historical year.

Here are the films that currently belong to the 100 Crores club:

Ghajini (2008) - Hit
3 Idiots (2009) - Blockbuster
Dabangg (2010) - Blockbuster
Golmaal 3 (2010) - Hit
Ready (2011) - Blockbuster
Singham (2011) - Hit
Bodyguard (2011) - Blockbuster
Ra.One (2011) - Flop (Due to massive budget)
Don 2 (2011) - Flop (Due to massive budget)

© Anant Mathur. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Holiday Tips

By Anant Mathur (December 18, 2011)

With Christmas fast approaching I thought I would use this post to provide a couple of holiday tips for my readers.

If you're planning to go away during the Christmas break it's important to plan a trip you'll enjoy, think of the kind of activities you like to do and plan accordingly. Everyone likes to dream big, but remember to be realistic and stick to a budget - it doesn't make sense to worry about your finances while you're on vacation. Where ever you go remember to do a little research beforehand about your holiday destination. Find out about the best places to eat, see and stay. You don't have to plan your whole itinerary but it will only help to know what's available to you when you get there. Before making your reservations make sure you read reviews about your hotel or resort. Lastly, remember to relax and enjoy, it's your holiday, a chance to get away from the stress of your daily life.

For those who're planning to stay at home, the holidays can be overwhelming, it's important to get rest and catch up on your sleep. Remember you're on vacation - relax and get some ME time. Try not to leave anything for the last minute, get it done ahead of time and stay stress-free. If you're going to parties, please remember to drink responsibly and don't drink and drive. Laugh as much as possible, it's the best medicine as they say, and it's absolutely free. The holidays are about giving not buying each other expensive gifts, so put some thought into your gifts, a homemade present will be remember far more. Eat, drink and be Merry but do it responsibly.

I would like to thank my readers for visiting my posts and wish you all a very happy holiday season and a prosperous New Year!

© Anant Mathur. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Tip # 38: Language

By Anant Mathur (December 11, 2011)

When writing a screenplay it is extremely important to use language which suits your story. By language I mean the style of speaking, the dialect and the attitude that comes with it. If you character is from South India, London or China, he must speak and have the same body language and attitude that people of that region have, same is true if he’s from any other part of the world. Similarly, a young prince will behave differently than a street urchin. For a writer it is crucial to understand the minutest differences between people, it's these small elements that make characters come alive. For example, you may feel there's something wrong with a person who speak monotonously, but it could make for an interesting character.

Communication is as old as humanity and language is a big part of that. If you travel to different parts of the world, you discover the many different dialects in other regions of a country. Take cockney for instance, it's a dialect from England, a rhyming slang, but most Englishmen today wouldn't understand it. But again, it would give the writer the ability to create a great character, if he/she understood details like this. If you travel from the Northern United States to the South or West, you can certainly see the difference in how people speak, behave and work. The same is true in India, in fact, in India you can find the difference from village to village. It shouldn't be surprising to find then that India has more than 400 languages and thousand of dialects. But these dialects and languages rarely translate into our character or stories.

When filming a screenplay it is equally important that the producer hire the right actors to portray these characters ­­– when producers fail to accomplish this we see characters which appear to be mocking their environment, and instead of being strong characters in a story they come across as weak caricatures. Great characters have an on-screen persona which draws the audience into the story. Gabbar Singh, for example, when we watch Sholay we see Gabbar Singh the character not Amjad Khan the acclaimed actor. Even though we may have seen Sholay hundreds of times it's the on-screen persona of Gabbar Singh which makes the story entertaining and engaging, can you imagine how bland Sholay would've been without strong characters like Gabbar Singh or Jai, Veeru, Thankur and Basanti. 

The original choice for Gabbar Singh was Danny Denzongpa, the first time I heard that I laughed it off as a joke, but it's now a well known fact. As brilliant and versatile as Danny Denzongpa is, no one in their right mind can imagine Danny as Gabbar Singh, Ramesh Sippy and Amjad Khan created a legendary character which still scares children. The sole reason Sholay works so well is because of the characters and a talented star cast which pulled off those characters without missing a beat. Don't get me wrong, Sholay had great music, action and cinematography as well, but without the actors' ability to pull off those characters everything else is meaningless. But when an actor can pull you into a story with his or her portrayal that's when everything else falls into place and you, as the audience, start to notice the brilliance of a story or film.

It surprises me when I speak to writers and find out how little they understand about language, characterization and the ability to create characters which the audience can relate to. Today a majority of writers a busy penning stories where actors seem to be playing themselves, yes there are those gems once in a blue moon where you can see the talent of a writer, actor or director but they are too few and very far between. But what a wonderful world it would be if only writers could understand the art of language.

© Anant Mathur. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Dev Anand Passes Away. :(

By Anant Mathur (December 04, 2011)

It is with a sad heart that I inform my readers (some of whom may have already heard) that the evergreen and seemingly immortal Dev Anand passed away on Saturday night in London following a cardiac arrest. 

As an actor he gave brilliant performances in films such as Guide, CID, Jewel Thief, Taxi Driver and Johnny Mera Naam to name just a few. But acting wasn't the limit of this man's talent he also produced over 35 films through his banner Navketan International Films. Dev Sahab, as he was known to many, directed and acted in several of the films he produced including Prem Pujari, Des Pardes, Funtoosh, Hum Dono, Kalapani, Heera Panna and one of his biggest hit HarĂ© Raama HarĂ© Krishna which launched the career of Zeenat Aman. 

Dev Anand was honoured with the prestigious Padma Bhushan in 2001 and Dada Saheb Phalke Award in 2002.

The dynamic duo of Dev Anand and his director brother Vijay Anand ruled the box office for nearly two decades from the late 50s to the early 70s with films like Nau Do Gyarah, Kala Bazaar, Tere Ghar Ke Saamne, Guide, Jewel Thief, Kahin Aur Chal, Johny Mera Naam, Tere Mere Sapne and Chhupa Rustam. Extremely passionate about films Dev Anand turned director in 70s with Prem Pujari. So passionate was he about filmmaking that he continued his contribution to films till 2011, his last film Chargesheet was released in September. Dev Anand was 88 years young and will be forever remembered through the magic of films. We can only humbly thank the man for entertaining us for more than 6 decades...

© Anant Mathur. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, November 28, 2011

What's The Point?

By Anant Mathur (November 28, 2011)

At the end of some films viewers are often left scratching their heads, wondering what was the point of making this particular film? When making a film, it's extremely important for filmmakers to get to the point by the time the film comes to the end. Every film, regardless of how predictable it is, must have a point - the reason why the film was made. Sadly, most films today are not only predictable but the real downer is that they make no point - there's no reason for them to exist, and thus they're not worth watching again.

Take films like Pyaasa, Chupke Chupke, Gol Maal, Sholay or Padosan - these are classics and can be watched over and over - why? Because they have a point, in Sholay good eventually triumphs over evil. In Padosan, boy gets girl and how. Parimal is able to fool his Jija ji in Chupke Chupke. In Pyaasa, Vijay dreams of getting his poems published but has to pay a stiff price in order to get his wish. Ramprasad will go to any lengths to keep his well paying job in Gol Maal.

In more recent times films like 3 Idiots, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, Munna Bhai MBBS, Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham, Kaho Naa Pyaar Hai, Ready and Lagaan are films that make a point and entertain at the same time. In the case of 3 Idiots the film makes several points. In DDLJ love triumphs above all. Munna teaches everyone that there's more to being a doctor than writing prescriptions in Munna Bhai MBBS. K3G is all about loving your parents. In Kaho Na Pyaar Hai, true love is so powerful no one can destroy it. Love conquers all in Ready. Lagaan takes us on a historical journey through our favourite sport.

Don't get me wrong making is a point will not turn a film into a hit by any means, a film also needs chemistry between the cast, a great story, powerful dialogues, enjoyable music and above all, luck. But along with all these thing, successful films also make a point or in rare cases several points...

© Anant Mathur. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The First Weekend!

By Anant Mathur (November 20, 2011)

Over the last few months a new trend has begun in Bollywood - the first weekend collections. Although the first weekend has been important to films for the last couple of years, these days the first weekend of a big film has become crucial, it's the first 3 days (or 5 days for extended weekends) which dictate success or doom for a film. The simple reason behind this trend is that films are released with a massive number of prints and the public is able to see the film in the first weekend. 

For the last several months every big film has released on at least 2000-2500 screens (or in the case of Ra.One - a record setting 3500 screens) and most of their business is done in the first weekend, rarely do films get past the 2-3 week run nowadays.

Before 2009 films were released on a maximum of 1000 screens in rare cases big films were released on 1200 or 1400 screens and hit films would do a business of 8-10 weeks. In the 1990s films were released on a maximum 200-300 screens - this is why films like Hum Aapke Hain Kaun..! went on to be golden jubilees. Hum Aapke Hain Kaun..! was also the first Hindi to run in mainstream cinema in U.S.A., UK and other parts of the world and created records unheard of before. It ran for over 50 week in London and Toronto - the first Hindi film to do so. HAHK also takes the credit for reviving the theatrical release of Hindi films abroad.

When films were released on 1000 screens or less, many Houseful signs were seen in cinema halls because demand exceeded supply and those people who couldn't see the film in the first week came back in the following weeks. But when a film is released on over 2500 screens supply exceeds demand and Houseful boards become a rareity. If you look at the collections of 3 Idiots, the film ran successfully for 8 weeks with less than 50 percent weekly drop. Now compare this to this years big releases Bodyguard and Ra.One which were released on 2700 and 3500 screens, respectively, and you will realize that the drop for these films were more than 80 percent in the second week and the films were done by week 3 or 4.

One thing I want to point out is that in today's times most producers don't lose any money in a film. When they sell a film it's sold for more than the budget, distributors are never shown where or how the money was spent. So if a producers claims the film cost 50 crores or 150 crores distributors blindly believe him because they haven't seen the film, meanwhile, the film might have cost the producer 10 crores to make and he claims it cost 40 crores. When a producer sells his film it's for more than the actual cost of the film (he has to make a profit), so a distributor might pay 40 crores for a film that cost 35 crores to make.

To the common man it may not matter how one film performs but it has a drastic effect on the industry. When a big film like Ra.One is released - the first Shahrukh Khan film to release in 20 months and it doesn't make any money for anyone but SRK, then there's something wrong with the system. It's not about just one film or one star but the industry as a whole - it would be wonderful if every film was a hit but that hardly seem possible in today's scenario.

Nowadays the business of films has become 1-2 weeks long and this really hurts the industry because films like Rockstar (released on 2500 screens) and Mausam (released on 2200 screens) which have big budgets are not able to recover their cost. Gone are the days of silver and golden jubilees, now it's the first weekend that counts and soon it'll be the first day...

Below is a list of the ten Highest Grossing Bollywood films and their weekly performance at the box office including the percentage they dropped each week. As you can see films that were released on less than 2000 screens had less of a drop and lasted more weeks than films released on 2000+ screens. This is because when a films is released on 2500 screens the audience sees it in the first week because everyone is able to get tickets in the opening week.

3 IDIOTS (released on 1200 Screens)
Week 1 - 79.0 Crores
Week 2 - 54.5 Crores (31% drop)
Week 3 - 30.0 Crores (45% drop)
Week 4 - 16.5 crores (45% drop)
Week 5 - 10.0 Crores (40% drop)
week 6 - 5.0 Crores (50% drop)
week 7 - 3.0 crores (40% drop)
week 8 - 2.0 crores (33% drop)
Total - 200 Crores

BODYGUARD (released on 2700 Screens)
Week 1 - 114.61 Crores
Week 2 - 21.5 Crores (81% drop)
Week 3 - 9.04 Crores (58% drop)
Week 4 - 2.25 Crores (75% drop)
Total - 147.39 Crores

DABANGG (released 1400 Screens)
Week 1 - 81.5    Crores
Week 2 - 36.0 Crores (56% drop)
Week 3 - 16.0 Crores (55.5% drop)
Week 4 - 6.0 Crores (62.5% drop)
Week 5 - 1.0 Crores (83% drop)
Total - 140.5 Crores

READY (released on 1850 Screens)
Week 1 - 69.50 Crores
Week 2 - 32.25 Crores (53.5% drop)
Week 3 - 13.55 Crores (58.0% drop)
Week 4 - 4.25 Crores (68.5% drop)
Week 5 - 1.00 Crore (76.5% drop)
Total - 120.55 Crores

GHAJINI (released on 1400 Screens)
Week 1 - 64.0 Crores
Week 2 - 28.0 Crores (56% drop)
Week 3 - 14.0 Crores (50% drop)
Week 4 - 7.0 crores (50% drop)
Week 5 - 2.5 Crores (64% drop)
week 6 - 1.5 Crores (60% drop)
week 7 - 0.5 crores (67% drop)
Total - 117.5 Crores

RA.ONE (released on 3500 Screens)
Week 1 - 97.47 crores
Week 2 - 15.27 crores (84% drop)
Week 3 - 1.36 crores (91% drop)
Total - 114.33 Crores

GOLMAAL 3 (released on 1400 Screens)
Week 1 - 62.5 Crores
Week 2 - 32.0 Crores (49% drop)
Week 3 - 9.0 Crores (72% drop)
Week 4 - 2.5 Crores (72.0% drop)
Week 5 - 1.0 Crore (60% drop)
Total - 107 Crores

SINGHAM (released on 2000 Screens)
Week 1 - 51.25 Crores
Week 2 - 26.34 Crores (49% drop)
Week 3 - 11.5 Crores (56% drop)
Week 4 - 6.5 Crores (43% drop)
Week 5 - 3.75 Crore (42% drop)
Week 6 - 1.25 Crore (67% drop)
Total - 100.59 Crores

RAAJNEETI (released on 1800 Screens)
Week 1 - 54.50 Crores
Week 2 - 24.00 Crores (56% drop)
Week 3 - 8.00 Crores (67% drop)
Week 4 - 5.00 Crores (37.5% drop)
Week 5 - 1.75 Crore (65% drop)
Week 5 - 0.50 Crore (71% drop)
Total - 93.75 Crores

ZINDAGI NA MILEGI DOBARA (released on 1800 Screens)
Week 1 - 42.19 Crores
Week 2 - 18.88 Crores (55% drop)
Week 3 - 12.20 Crores (35% drop)
Week 4 - 6.21 Crores (49% drop)
Week 5 - 3.56 Crore (43% drop)
Week 6 - 2.14 Crore (40% drop)
Week 7 - 1.07 Crore (50% drop)
Week 8 - 23.32 Lakhs (78% drop)
Total - 86.48 Crores

© Anant Mathur. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Tip # 50: Zero Expectations

By Anant Mathur (November 12, 2011)

Today films are marketed so much that before we ever get to a movie theater we unconsciously develop certain expectations from the film. And if it doesn't rise up to our expectations we resent it. I feel marketing is given too much importance, in many cases, it is more important than the content itself. It's almost as if filmmakers believe the audience is full of fools, it doesn't matter what you give them as long as you can sell a ticket and get them to the theater. For the last several years films have disappointed me so much that now whenever I go see a film in a movie theater I go with "Zero Expectations"

By Zero Expectations, I mean that I don't expect the film to be any good, this way if I enjoy it, then it must truly be good and if I feel the film is no good, it must be truly terrible because I didn't expect it to be good, but it still disappointed me and fell below that. 

Before deciding on watching a film, I usually watch a trailer of a film and if it looks interesting I go see it. For example, Yamla Pagla Deewana and Dabangg had such powerful trailers that I immediately wanted to go see them. When I watched the trailers of 3 Idiots, it didn't excite me like Yamla Pagla Deewana or Dabangg, but it was able to convince me enough to give it a try. Before watching 3 Idiots I was fairly sure it would disappoint me, but to my surprise, I rather enjoyed the film and have watched it many time since then.

Over the years I have seen thousands of films in several languages (Hindi, English, Gujarati, Marathi, German, Spanish, Italian, French, etc.) so, I'm not looking for anything original, all I expect from films today is that they will entertain me for the 2-2.5 hours I'm there. There was nothing original about the Munna Bhai Series, Yamla Pagla Deewana, Dabangg, Main Hoon Na, Sholay, Ready, Once Upon A Time In Mumbai, or Bodyguard, but they did entertain the audience for 2-2.5 hours.

There are several ways filmmakers lure the audience into a movie theater. The most common is probably the music, it's commonly believed that if your film has hit music half the battle is won - hit music will compel the audience to buy a ticket. 

From the beginning of Bollywood 'till about 10 years ago, it didn't matter how good or bad a film was, one thing you were guaranteed was a hit soundtrack. Today, because music has become a marketing tool a hit soundtrack is very rare. Now, a film usually has just one song or an item number which become the rage and sell the film to its audience (like Chammak Challo, Sheela Ki Jawani or Character Dheela). Very rarely do we see a complete soundtrack which is enjoyable from the first song to the last (ie. Veer-Zaara, Dabangg, 3 Idiots or Lagaan).

Seeing as many films as I have, I understand what's out there and when I write I know what I can't use. For example, I know it's not a good idea to use sex jokes, fat jokes or race jokes because the audience has heard them all, unless I can present them in a new way there really is no point, especially in the "politically correct" world of today. As a writer it is your responsibility to give the audience what they want... Entertainment! Whether it's through entertaining dialogue, comic scenes or action sequences that's up to you. When the audience leaves a movie theater they should feel that the film has exceeded their expectations, then and only then has a filmmaker been able to reach his audience.

© Anant Mathur. All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Deflating Ra.One...

By Anant Mathur (November 05, 2011) 

Before we begin, please remember this is just a comparison of the nett box office collections and not a Shahrukh Khan vs. Salman Khan battle of the stars.

Did Ra.One break Bodyguard's nett collections record? 
This is a question that's on the mind of everyone who has followed the release of Ra.One. Whether it's SRK fans, trade analysts, people who loved it or those who didn't like Ra.One - all of them have one thing in common, they all want to know the winner of Ra.One vs. Bodyguard.

To judge fairly we must look past the numbers that are being throw out there, several other factors have to be taken into consideration. But first, Looking only at the numbers... Ra.One did NOT come close to breaking the opening day record of Bodyguard, in fact, at 14.63 crores it collected 6.62 crores or 30% less than Bodyguard on Day 1. This is shocking when you realize that Ra.One released on close to 3500 screens whereas Bodyguard was released on less than 2000 (on Day 1). With 100% collections all over India, the total capacity of Ra.One was around 35 crores. Which means, at 14.63 crores, the Day 1 collections were approximately 40%. Bodyguard released at 1PM on Wednesday (Day 1) and didn’t have as wide a release. Still, it managed to set a record of 21.25 crores. At worst, due to all the hype and craze, Ra.One was expected to cross 20 crores easily.

After the Ra.One premiere, the paid reviews of the film were released to the public, as expected, they praised Ra.One and gave it between 3.5 - 4.5 out of 5 stars. After it's release, on October 26, the real reviews of the film came out, they were mostly negative and gave the film between 1.5 - 2.5 out of 5 stars. After the second day, Ra.One saw a huge fall on Day 3 - collecting 15.50 Crores - it fell by 7.30 crores on the third day and lost 32 percent of the audience from Day 2. On Sundays, films usually pick up 10-15 percent but Ra.One failed to do that as well dropping from 14.25 crores on saturday to 13.79 crores on Sunday.

Yes, Ra.One just barely broke the 3 day record of Bodyguard by 1.06 crores (due mainly to the 3D version that released a day later on Oct. 27th), but it missed the 5 day record of Bodyguard by 4.2 crores. We must also remember that the ticket prices for Ra.One were 20% higher than Bodyguard for the 2D version and doubled or more in several places for the 3D version which released a day later - this is the reason why the second day collections shot up and are considerably higher than any other day (most people who were waiting for the 3D version didn't see the film till the 2nd). At this time, I must inform my readers that Ra.One is not shot in 3D, they have converted the 2D version into 3D so they can charge a higher price. But not a single frame of the film is shot in 3D. Shahrukh Khan must be commended for informing the public that the film was not shot in 3D, so they knew what to expect going in.

Now, If we go by ticket sales only Ra.One was watched by less people than Bodyguard, 3 idiots, Ready or Dabanng in it's opening week. I feel that the number of tickets sold is a more accurate way of judging a film than collections because some films have higher ticket prices than others which inflate the collections - making their comparison inaccurate. If we look at Hollywood, there too, by ticket sales, Gone with the Wind is the most watched film in the movie theaters. Avatar is the highest grossing only because the ticket prices were higher in comparison to the value of the dollar in the 1930s, but Gone with the Wind was watched by more people in the movie theater than any film in history and more than twice as many as Avatar. At the time of this post, Avatar was at number 14 by ticket sales (Ben-Hur, E.T., Star Wars IV & V, Jaws, The Sound of Music, Snow White, and James Cameron's own Titanic are all ahead of Avatar). Similarly Ra.One, By ticket sales, would fall to no. 9.

Ticket prices of Ra.One 2D version were between Rs. 100 to Rs. 400 and the 3D Version were
between Rs. 350 to Rs. 750. Ticket prices of Bodyguard ranged between Rs. 80 to Rs. 300. As you can see, the ticket prices of Ra.One were 20-25 percent higher than Bodyguard for the 2D version and in most cases more than doubled for the 3D version. This, in fact, makes it an unfair comparison.

In order to compare fairly, Ra.One must be deflated and brought down to the same price points as Bodyguard. To make things less complicated, we will assume that Ra.One was only released in 2D - this way we just take 20 percent off all its collections, but do keep in mind that because of the higher 3D ticket prices the Ra.One numbers should be even lower from day 2 (when the 3D version was released), but we won't worry about that for now.

So, by taking 20% off the collections of Ra.One and bringing it to Bodyguard ticket prices, here is the break down of Ra. One vs. Bodyguard in their extended first week (9 days). The first number is the actual collections of Ra.One followed by the 20% price reduction and then the Bodyguard collections for the same day (All numbers are in Crores)

Ra.One vs. Bodyguard (nett collections)

Day 1
14.63 Crores
12.19 Crores
21.25 Crores
Day 2
22.80 Crores
19 Crores
17.34 Crores
Day 3
15.50 Crores
12.92 Crores
13.28 Crores
First 3 Days Total
52.93 Crores
44.11 Crores
51.87 Crores

Day 4
14.25 Crores
11.88 Crores
14.65 Crores
Day 5
13.79 Crores
11.49 Crores
18.65 Crores
First 5 Days Total
80.97 Crores
67.48 Crores
85.17 Crores

Day 6
5.93 Crores
4.94 Crores
8.58 Crores
Day 7
4.85 Crores
4.04 Crores
6.54 Crores
Day 8
3.88 Crores
3.23 Crores
5.42 Crores
Day 9
2.87 Crores
2.39 Crores
4.25 Crores
First 9 Days Total
(Extended Week 1)
98.50 Crores
82.08 Crores
109.96 Crores

As you can see Ra.One actually didn't break any records if we bring it down to the same price points as Bodyguard. Similarly, if we inflate Bodyguard's collections by 20% that would mean it collected close to 132 crores in it's extended first week - 33.5 crores more than Ra.One. At the same price points, the opening day collections of Ra.One fall to no 6 all time and the 3 day collections fall to no 3 with the 5 day falling to no 4 and 9 day staying at no 2. Also, you have to keep in mind that all other films (except Bodyguard) had a normal 3 day weekend and a 7 day week. Plus the above calculations haven't taken into account the higher ticket costs of the 3D version which would drop its position further.

Many numbers will be thrown out there regarding the Ra.One collections in the near future, but do remember that Bollywood pays for most of the reports released in the media and it's difficult to judge which is the correct number. Hopefully, this in-depth analysis will help you understand the true nett collections of Ra.One and that when the producer(s) know a film will only recover its cost in the first week they release the film in a record number of prints with inflated ticket prices and as an added gimmick - fake 3D.

Regardless of whether we enjoyed the film or not, the final tally is that at most Ra.One will collect between 116-117 crores from its theatrical run (which is quite a feat in itself) placing it at number 6 in current all time nett collections list (after 3 Idiots, Bodyguard, Dabanng, Ready and Ghajini) but still it's ginormous budget will render it a flop for its distributor. A film is successful only if it recovers its cost through the theatrical nett collections and makes a profit. If it doesn't make a profit but manages to recover its cost, it's called an average film. If a film is unable to recover its cost, it's considered a flop. So, if anyone asks you if Ra.One was a hit or flop, remember that it's a flop only because the cost was too high.


© Anant Mathur. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Tip # 3: The Producer

By Anant Mathur (October 25, 2011)

A producer is usually the first person involved in getting a story to the screen, it's his vision. It is the producer who finds a script worthy of being made into a film. Sometimes he gets an existing script from a writer, other times it's an idea he has or a book which is adapted into a film by a writer. But until the producer is on board not a single frame of any script can be shot, no matter how brilliant it is. Once the producer has decided on a certain script it is his job to set a budget and hire the best actors and technicians (the budget will allow) for the job. Once he has the primary star cast and technicians in place he approaches investors for the film. Based on the talent attached to the film he is able to attract money from various investors.

No matter what anyone tells you, the most important person involved in the making of a film is the producer. I know that most people believe the director is the most important person associated with a film, but the fact is, that's not true. I'm not sure who made it possible for directors to get so much importance in the making of the film, the truth is a good cinematographer (or director of photography) is more important for a film than a director. The director's job is fairly easy (if the writer has done his job correctly) it's all in the script. The director just has to... wait for it... direct! He has to get the best possible performance out of his actors based on the instructions in the script. The rest is the responsibility of the other technicians on the sets.

You may have heard many producers say that they don't like to interfere with the director and are very hands-off when the film is being shot. This is the wrong approach, a producer needs to be heavily involved in the daily shooting of his film. The producer works very hard to get money for the film from a variety of investors, when a director asks for more money a producer needs to know exactly where it's going and if his vision for the film is being met.

For example, when a producer is hands-off, a director might want to re-shoot a scene several times if he's not happy with it, and may delay the film by several days because he's unable to get the performance out of his actors. If the producer lets this director be in control, chances are there will be many such situations, the film will be significantly over budget, won't meet the producer's expectations and won't work at the box office. At this point the producer has only one option - firing the director. Had the producer been involved in the day to day shooting of the film - the film wouldn't have gone over budget and he would've realized the director is wrong right from the start. A producer who is hands-off is a bad producer and is not doing his job correctly.

The award for Best Picture is the most important at any awards function and it goes not to the director but the producer... why?... because he's the most important person involved in the making of a film. A good producer gives the director what is required but keeps track of everything; making sure his vision is being followed. At the end of it all a film needs to be what the producer saw in the script and not necessarily what the director can do. When a director is given too much control there are creative difference. If a director wants to follow his vision he should produce the film himself, but unless he can do that, he has to remember that it's the producer's vision, he's paying the bills and has a right to take a film in any direction he wants.

© Anant Mathur. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Ra.One Going The Enthiran Way?

By Anant Mathur (October 23, 2011)

Well, looks like most of the posts this month are going to be about the biggest release in the history of Indian Cinema - Ra.One.

As was done with Rajnikant's film Enthiran, theatrical chains are raising ticket prices for both the 2D and 3D versions of Shahrukh Khan's Ra.One. At this time, I must inform my readers that Ra.One is not shot in 3D, they have converted the 2D version into 3D so they can charge a higher price. Converting 2D films to 3D is a recent trend. Hollywood film The Green Hornet recently tried the same conversion tactic and failed miserably at the box office - the film was criticized for having badly added 3D.

Depending on what part of the country you are in the ticket price for the 2D & faked 3D version may range between Rs. 200 and Rs. 750.

I've said many times that you can bet a film is going to be bad when they raise ticket prices & release it in more than 1500 screens (because it shows the producers have no faith the film will generate box office revenue beyond the first weekend and want to earn as much as possible). Both these facts are now true for Ra.One. Ra.One is being released on more screens in India than both 3 Idiots and Dabangg combined. Considering it will have a 5 day weekend, like Bodyguard, the producers/distributor are releasing Ra.One in a record number of screens. 

When I watched the first promos of Dabangg and Yamla Pagla Deewana, I immediately wanted to see these films. Sadly, the promos of Ra.One have not been able to entice the same feeling. Even if Ra.One breaks any records it won't be a fair comparison to any film(s) because it's ticket prices are higher and it will inflate the revenue generated by the film. A fair comparison would be to compare the total tickets sold to those of other films, only then can we determine how it fares against other films.

Deflating Ra.One...
Ra.One Won't Be No.1, Here's Why...
Calm Before The Storm!
Ra.One - Critic's Choice??

© Anant Mathur. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Calm Before The Storm!

By Anant Mathur (October 19, 2011)

The last few weeks have been rather busy with multiple films releasing each week - as many as 13 films were released in the last three weeks alone - all possibly trying to avoid a clash with the biggest Diwali release in the history of Hindi cinema.  

Ra.One, at a cost of 175 crores, is set to release next week and it's no surprise that this week is going to be quite calm with only one film "Be Careful" releasing this Friday. 

Come next Wednesday (Oct. 26th), the trade pundits will tell you, the box office will be on fire. Ra.One should take an excellent start at the box office considering that it will be the first Shahrukh Khan release in more than 20 months. Although, his last release (My Name is Khan) didn't really prove to be a winner at the box office - there has been a drastic change in the industry over the last year which may help Ra.One become the highest grossing Shahrukh Khan film. One of these factors is the 5 day weekend. As we witnessed with Bodyguard, a five day weekend can be crucial in the success of a film. Another factor is Shahrukh Khan is the biggest star attraction in the overseas market (9 of 10 highest grossing films in the overseas market belong to him). This is the reason why Shahrukh Khan is holding 3 premieres of the film next week in Dubai (Oct. 24th), London (Oct. 25) and Toronto (Oct. 26) - at a cost of $100 per ticket this should help recover some of the cost. 

2011 is the first year where we have already had, a record, 3 films (Ready, Bodyguard and Singham) each crossing 100+ crores in collection. With Zindagi Na Milegi Dobaara generating 86 crores and Mere Brother Ki Dulhan & Yamla Pagla Deewana crossing the 50 crores mark and Murder 2 becoming one of the most profitable films of the year - collecting over 46 crores - you realize what an incredible year it has truly been. You, also, can't help notice that all this has happened before the Diwali and Christmas releases.

Made at a cost of 175 crores, Ra.One has a gigantic hill to climb, it will need to generate almost 400 crores nett at the box office in order to break even (click here for a detailed analysis). Ra.One is releasing on 3500 screens (in India alone), so, as we witnessed with Bodyguard which released on 2700 screens - the film did 90% of it's business in the first week - similarly, Ra.One will make a majority of it's money in the first week. But a 5 day weekend and no major releases this week may help it get well on its way.

Deflating Ra.One...
Ra.One Going The Enthiran Way?
Ra.One Won't Be No.1, Here's Why...
Ra.One - Critic's Choice??

© Anant Mathur. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Ra.One - Critic's Choice??

By Anant Mathur (October 10, 2011) 

I always find it interesting how the top critics in the country vary in their opinion about a certain film. Over the years I've realized many Bollywood critics are paid for their reviews and some develope a genuine dislike or love for a star which effect their reviews. Taking all this into account, I will predict how I believe these top critics will rate Ra.One, arguably the biggest film of the year, when it's released this Diwali (Oct. 26, 2011).

After Ra.One is released I will post the actual rating given by these critic so you can compare how close I came to understanding how these critics think. So be sure to come back to this post after the film is released. Here we go...

Taran Adarsh (Bollywood Hungama)

Taran Adarsh has reviewed many Shahrukh Khan films in the past. Below is a list of films he has reviewed. He is also one of those critics who get paid for their reviews - It's pretty obvious when you note that all the films produced by Karan Johar's (Dharma Productions) or Shahrukh Khan's (Red Chillies Entertainment) have averaged over 4/5 stars while all other producers fare much worst. Karan Johar recently admitted to paying for reviews (see this article for more on that) so it's not all that surprising Karan's films get such high ratings from Mr. Adarsh and others.

My Prediction is Taran Adarsh (if paid in time) will give Ra.One 4 or 4.5 out of 5 stars.

ACTUAL: Taran's Rating (as predicted): 4.5/5 stars. 

Previous Shahrukh Khan Films Reviewed by Taran Adarsh:
My Name is Khan (Red Chillies Entertainment/Dharma Productions) - 4.5/5
Billu (Red Chillies Entertainment) - 3.5/5
Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi (Yashraj Films) - 2/5
Om Shanti Om (Red Chillies Entertainment) - 4/5
Chak De India (Yashraj Films) - 2/5
Don - The Chase Begins Again (Excel Entertainment) - 3/5
Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna (Dharma Productions) - 4.5/5
Paheli (Red Chillies Entertainment) - 4/5
Kaal (Red Chillies Entertainment/Dharma Productions) - 4/5
Swades (Ashutosh Gowariker Productions) - 1.5/5
Veer-Zaara (Yash Raj Films) - 4.5/5
Main Hoon Na (Red Chillies Entertainment) - 4/5
Yeh Lamhe Judaai Ke (R G Nayyar Films) - 1/5
Kal Ho Naa Ho (Dharma Productions) - 4/5
Chalte Chalte (Dreamz Unlimited) - 3.5/5
Shakti - The Power (Sridevi Productions) - 2.5/5
Devdas (Mega Bollywood) - 1.5/5
Hum Tumhare Hain Sanam (K C Bokadia) - 1/5
Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham (Dharma Productions) - 4.5/5
Asoka (Arclightz & Films) 2.5/5
One 2 Ka 4 (Glamour Films) 1/5
Mohabbatein (Yash Raj Films) - 3/5

Nikhat Kazmi (Times of India) 

Nikhat Kazmi is the most difficult critic to predict - while he gave Hrithik Roshan's Kites a 2.5/5, he also gave Guzaarish a 4/5 and Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara a 3.5/5 rating. 

My Prediction is Nikhat Kazmi will give Ra.One 3 or 4 out of 5 stars. 
Previous Shahrukh Khan Films Reviewed by Nikhat Kazmi:
My Name Is Khan - 5/5
Billu - 3/5
Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi - 3/5
Om Shanti Om - 3.5/5
Chak De India - 4/5
Don - The Chase Begins Again - 3.5/5
Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna - No Rating (Verdict: Too long. Too tedious. And strangely plastic.)

Khalid Mohamed (HindustanTimes)

Before turning film critic Khalid Mohamed was a filmmaker. So one would think if there's one critic who know about how to rate a film honestly, it's him.

My Prediction is Khalid Mohamed will give Ra.One 3.5 out of 5 stars.

ACTUAL: Khalid Mohamed's Rating: 4/5 stars. 

Previous Shahrukh Khan Films Reviewed By Khalid Mohamed:
Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi - 3.5/5
Om Shanti Om - 4/5
Chak De India - 3.5/5
Don - The Chase Begins Again (Reviewed for Daily News and Analysis) - 2/5

Mayank Shekhar (HindustanTimes/(Mumbai Mirror)

Mayank Shekhar has been pretty consistant with his reviews of Shahrukh Khan films in the past, one would think he has built up a certain opinion of SRK.

My Prediction is Mayank Shekhar will give Ra.One 3 out of 5 stars.

ACTUAL: Mayank Shekhar's Rating: 2/5 stars.

Previous Shahrukh Khan Films Reviewed By Mayank Shekhar:

My Name Is Khan (HindustanTimes) - 3/5
Billu (Mumbai Mirror) - 3/5
Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi (Mumbai Mirror) - 3/5
Don - The Chase Begins Again (Mumbai Mirror) - 4/5
Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna
(Mumbai Mirror) - 3/5

Komal Nahata (Koimoi)

Komal Nahata is probably the most hated critic in Bollywood for he low ratings to film. But I feel he judges a film in totality and will probably give a more honest review and rating than all the others. 

My Prediction is Komal Nahata will give Ra.One 2 or 2.5 of 5 stars.

ACTUAL: Komal Nahata's Rating: 3.5/5 stars (He calls it a Business Rating).

Previous Shahrukh Khan Films Reviewed By Komal Nahata:

My Name is Khan - No Rating (Verdict: Far from entertaining and also too boring.)
Billu - No Rating (Verdict: Dull.)
Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi - No Rating (Verdict: a hit film, hit music and SRK’s superlative performance.)

Sarita Tanwar (Mid-day)

I'm not too familiar with
Sarita Tanwar, but I find her reviews to be too uncritical for a critic. I mean someone who gives My Name Is Khan 4.5 out of 5 can't really be relied upon considering she works for what has been described by many as a tabloid and Karan Johar admitting that he pays for reviews.

My Prediction is Sarita Tanwar will give Ra.One 4.5 out of 5 stars.

ACTUAL: Did Not Review. 

Previous Shahrukh Khan Films Reviewed By Sarita Tanwar:

My Name Is Khan - 4.5/5
Billu - 3/5
Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi - 3/5

Rajeev Masand (CNN/IBN)

Rajeev Masand is synonymous with film reviews at IBN. Each Friday he's ready with his next review telling us whether the film is worth watching or not.

My Prediction is Rajeev Masand will give Ra.One 3.5 out of 5 stars.
Previous Shahrukh Khan Films Reviewed By Rajeev Masand:

My Name Is Khan - 3.5/5
Billu - 2/5
Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi - 2/5    
Om Shanti Om - 3/5
Chak De India - 4/5
Don - The Chase Begins Again - 1/5
Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna - 4/5

Raja Sen (Rediff)

Raja Sen has been with Rediff for a great many years. He may not be the best critic out there, but he sure tries hard.

My Prediction is Raja Sen will give Ra.One 3.5 out of 5 stars.

ACTUAL: Raja Sen's Rating: 1.5/5 stars (He must've read this post... I'm kidding of course). 

Previous Shahrukh Khan Films Reviewed By Raja Sen:

My Name Is Khan
- 3.5/5
Billu - 2.5/5
Om Shanti Om - 3.5/5
Chak De India - 3.5/5
Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna - 2/5
Paheli - No Rating (Verdict: A breathtaking dream)

Subhash K. Jha (Now Running)

Subhash K. Jha has been around for a very long time. Hopefully this time around he will give an honest review of Ra.One - one can always hope.

My Prediction is Subhash K. Jha will give Ra.One 3.5 or 4 out of 5 stars.

ACTUAL: Did Not Review. 

Previous Shahrukh Khan Films Reviewed By Subhash K. Jha:

My Name is Khan - 5/5
Billu - 3/5
Om Shanti Om - 1/5
Chak De India - 3.5/5
Don - The Chase Begins Again - 2/5
Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna - 4/5
Paheli - 4/5
Kaal - 3/5
Swades - 4/5
Veer-Zaara - 2/5

Aniruddha Guha (DNA)
Anirrudha Guha is slowly becoming quite popular amongst the critics in Bollywood. Anirrudha's reviews are pretty honest and can be usually relied upon.

My Prediction is Anirrudha Guha will give Ra.One 2.5 out of 5 stars.

ACTUAL: Anirrudha Guha's Rating: 3/5 stars.

Previous Shahrukh Khan Films Reviewed By Anirrudha Guha:

My Name is Khan - 3/5
Billu - 2/5

Martin D'Souza (Glamsham)

Martin D'Souza has been around for many years and although it's sometime difficult to say how he will rate a film you can be sure if it's a Shahrukh Khan film it will likely get a rating which is around 3/5.

My Prediction is Martin D'Souza will give Ra.One 3 out of 5 stars. 

ACTUAL: Martin D'Souza's Rating: 3/5 stars.

Previous Shahrukh Khan Films Reviewed By Martin D'Souza:

My Name is Khan - 3.5/5
Billu - 4/5
Om Shanti Om - 2.5/5
Chak De India - 4/5

Anupama Chopra (NDTV)

Anupama Chopra has been with NDTV's entertainment division for quite a long while and is one of the few honest critics out there. 

My Prediction is Anupama Chopra will give Ra.One 2.5 or 3 out of 5 stars. 

ACTUAL: Did Not Review.

Previous Shahrukh Khan Films Reviewed By Anupama Chopra:

My Name Is Khan - 3/5
Billu - No Rating (Verdict: strictly average)
Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi - No Rating (Verdict: Disappointing)

Gaurav Malani (Indiatimes)

Every Friday Gaurav Malani passes judgement on the latest releases. Here's hoping he will do justice to the review of Ra.One and not be pulled into all the hype surrounding it.

My Prediction is Gaurav Malani will give Ra.One 2.5 out of 5 stars.

ACTUAL: Gaurav Malani's Rating: 3/5 stars.

Previous Shahrukh Khan Films Reviewed By Gaurav Malani:

My Name Is Khan - 3.5/5
Billu - 2/5
Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi - 2/5 

Deflating Ra.One...
Ra.One Going The Enthiran Way?
Calm Before The Storm!
Ra.One Won't Be No.1, Here's Why...

© Anant Mathur. All Rights Reserved.