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Airlift stole the show in January

Apart from 'Airlift', which earned Rs117.36 crore so far, critically acclaimed flicks like 'Wazir' and 'Saala Khadoos' performed much below par

‘Airlift’ opened with Rs12.35 crore and reached the Rs100 crore mark in a little over a week.<br />
‘Airlift’ opened with Rs12.35 crore and reached the Rs100 crore mark in a little over a week.

New Delhi: The first month of the year is past us without Bollywood springing up too many surprises at the box office. While Akshay Kumar-starrer Airlift emerged as the movie of the month, some other critically acclaimed flicks like Amitabh Bachchan and Farhan Akhtar’s Wazir and sports drama Saala Khadoos performed much below par.

A few releases carried over from the previous month too. Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s much-appreciated period drama Bajirao Mastani is going strong in its eighth week with earnings of 184 crore and continues to draw audiences even as it completes a 50-day theatrical run. Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Dilwale that clashed with Bhansali’s film at the box office may have slipped up in the country, but Khan continues to reign overseas; the film has made over 10 crore in Malaysia and is also the second highest collecting film of all time in overseas markets such as the UAE and GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries, Peru, Kuwait, Indonesia, Egypt and Morocco.

“It was a mixed month with Airlift clearly emerging as the biggest success," said trade analyst Taran Adarsh. “The strong content helped it pick up even after a slow start. It’s won not just love, appreciation and many hearts but also picked up its share of box office earnings."

By the end of its third week (7 February), the business of Kumar’s patriotic saga based on the massive evacuation of Indians from Kuwait during the Iraq invasion of 1990 totaled 117.36 crore. The Republic Day release opened with 12.35 crore and reached the 100 crore mark in a little over a week.

It is historically believed that the first month of the year is not particularly conducive to film business. “Things tend to be slow," Adarsh said. “First, people are on long holidays that extend from Christmas to the new year and beyond. And then it’s important for them to get into the work mode. So movies either take a backseat or find their audience only if they’re supremely powerful, as was the case with Airlift."

Another reason for producers avoiding the first month of the year, added trade analyst Atul Mohan, is the big success of year-end releases from December spilling over and affecting new films. Actor Aamir Khan with blockbusters like Ghajini (2008), 3 Idiots (2009), Dhoom 3 (2013) and PK (2014), all Christmas releases, holds the record for the same.

Apart from Airlift, it was mostly an unexciting time in the theatres. Things did look up with the initial euphoria that sex comedies like Kya Kool Hain Hum 3 and Mastizaade created, but it all soon fizzled out. The former made 30 crore by the end of its theatrical run, while the latter managed slightly over 28 crore.

“Sex comedies can’t just be used to titillate audiences, you also need a plot to justify the set-up," said Adarsh.

He added that as far as well-made films like Wazir and Saala Khadoos were concerned, word-of-mouth praise just didn’t translate into impressive numbers. While the former maintained its hold over certain multiplex audiences with earnings of 40 crore, the latter touched barely 12 crore.

Meanwhile, with almost negligible collections, films like Chauranga, Chalk N Duster, Rebellious Flower and Jugni remained non-starters.

“Today, the majority of film revenue comes from multiplexes which in turn look for big stars," said Mohan. “So while such films suffer due to lack of promotions and inadequate shows, to begin with, they are quickly replaced by the next lot of releases in the coming week. Movies are perishable products," he added.

The new month has already kicked in with Sunny Deol’s action drama Ghayal Once Again, a sequel to his 1990 cult classic Ghayal. With Katrina Kaif and Aditya Roy Kapur-starrer Fitoor, Sonam Kapoor’s Neerja and Manoj Bajpayee’s Aligarh, directed by Hansal Mehta, it should be an interesting time at the movies over the next few weeks.

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