Seeking: Fireworks at the box office at Diwali

‘Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge’ was a Diwali release. With that piece of trivia, I am trying to tell you just how big it gets out here at peak season!!! Despite all the conspiracy theories around its 23 year-run at the box office, the facts on the record show ‘DDLJ’ as one of the biggest we have had and more so, it is still going strong. There really hasn’t been any film that comes close to that sort frenzy, perhaps because Diwali celebrations have changed a wee bit since 1995. With the average Indian sitting in Bangkok on his Diwali vacay, it’s not difficult to understand why the trend might be on a downward spiral. Yet, as of today, the lights are shining bright and YRF for one, is putting the big bucks on a Diwali gamble. This Diwali, they are coming all guns booming — or rather swords clashing — with the biggest period film they have ever indulged in — Vijay Krishna Acharya’s ‘Thugs of Hindostan’.

Khans’ Diwali fixation
Every scribe has, at some point, written a long-winded article about how the Khans will be dominating the box office on Diwali day. Earlier it was a thumb rule that it will be a Shah Rukh Khan release (courtesy the aforementioned ‘DDLJ’, though his first Diwali release, was ‘Baazigar’) and he followed it up with ‘Dil Toh Pagal Hai’, ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’, ‘Veer Zara’ and so on…. Study shows a 100% success ratio despite films like ‘Happy New Year’. However, of late SRK has swapped dates with Aamir Khan and Mr Perfectionist seems to be ruling the roost with equal luck. However, if you give it a closer look, most of SRK’s big-bang Diwali releases were YRF films, and Aamir’s releases too were YRF. So before we call it a Khan fixation, let’s call it what it is — a production house game!

Box office wars
For all of us, who thrive on a good steak of gossip, Diwali clashes at the box office are a feast to look forward to, every year. Especially, when everyone around the films is talking about how unfair the people around the other film are being! For instance, Shah Rukh was called all sorts of mean things when he was trying to pit his huge film ‘Om Shanti Om’ against newbies Ranbir Kapoor and Sonam Kapoor’s ‘Saawariya’. Of course, his PR got into action and turned it into a fight between the directors instead and Sanjay Leela Bhansali had to stop giving Farah Khan friendly hugs at press conferences. Of course, things could have got worse like it did for ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’ and ‘Shivaay’, with Kajol and Karan Johar going on record and giving each other gaalis. They have patched up now, in time for Season Six of K Jo’s popular soap opera (can’t call it a chat show any more now, can we?) ‘Koffee With Karan’.
These clashes, however, work best when there are two Khans involved — like it did for Salman Khan’s ‘Jaan-E-Man’ and SRK’s ‘Don’; the speculations around the fight went past Christmas, Eid right onto the next Diwali, when SRK was back to threatening Devgn’s ‘Son Of Sardar’.

Box office ki Diwali?
If these Diwali releases are potent enough to affect personal equations, the figures they must be gathering have to be huge. An average Diwali release has to gross above Rs 150 crore if it knows what is good for the box office. It has to average the losses through the year for its production house and make a tidy profit. While that is too much of expectation, with Netflix, globe-trotting and the insane rate of popcorn in the theatres — the Diwali releases are actually taking a beating. So while just last year we had Golmaal Again making a tidy sum of Rs. 311 crore at the box office, ‘Thugs Of Hindostan’ with a Rs 350 crore budget needs to make way past Rs 500 crore at the box office. Given it is the first time Aamir Khan and Amitabh Bachchan will be seen in a film together, hopes for the moolah are shining bright. Eventually, when the real figures start to show, we will know if ‘Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge’ has a competitor or not. Till then, let there be light.

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