Fenil and Bollywood

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The most-awaited film this year, Kurbaan has turned out to be a turkey. We speak to trade analysts and industry insiders to gauge what went wrong with the film
By Vickey Lalwani (MUMBAI MIRROR; November 24, 2009)


2009 has been a very bad year for UTV. After three films — What’s Your Rashee?, Main Aur Mrs Khanna and Kaminey — failed to set the cash registers ringing, they were heavily banking on Karan Johar’s Kurbaan, directed by Rensil D’Silva.

But their hopes of having a hit were dashed with Kurbaan proving to be a turkey at the box-office.UTV had bought the film from Karan for about Rs 50 crore and released it across 1,700 screens.

One could understand if the audience gave it a thumbs down after watching it. However, the shocker is that the film didn’t even get a good opening when it released on November 20. Despite being a solo release, it barely managed 35 per cent occupancy on the first day. The box-office collections thereafter have been far from encouraging, flattering reviews from film critics notwithstanding.

Endorsing the fact that the film did not register more than 40 per cent collections in its first three days, trade analyst Amod Mehra says, “Shockingly, the collections on Sunday were even less than that on Friday and Saturday. The film is a big blow to Dharma Productions and UTV. “

Mehra adds, “People are not interested in seeing terrorism any longer. New York did fairly well but that’s because it wasn’t publicised as a film based on terrorism. It looked like a very youthful film with fun elements by John and Katrina. The entire publicity of Kurbaan was wrong. If the heroine of Kurbaan doesn’t want her mother to see her steamy scenes with her boyfriend, how can one go with family members to see such a film?”

Distributor Ramesh Sippy says cautiously, “I don’t want to make any assessment. But yes, Kurbaan has not lived up to its expectations.”

We also spoke to some of the theatre officials. Manoj Desai (of Maratha Mandir, Gaiety-Galaxy) says, “I registered 80 per cent collections on the first three days whereas it did not go beyond 40 per cent in other theatres. However, the collections have nosedived since yesterday. Koi picture dekhne ke liye tayyar hi nahin hai. The overall feeling is that it’s a very serious and cruel film.”

An official from Cinemax, Andheri, says, “We had expected that this film would rake in around 85-90 per cent collections. But from day one, we knew that it wouldn’t be a hit. First day, we registered only 40-45 per cent collections. People have not related to the film, it has no repeat value. On Saturday and Sunday, we recorded only 50 per cent ticket sales.”

Vikram Varma, Fun Republic, communications manager, says, “We recorded 35 per cent in the first three days. But today (Monday), we only have 15-20 per cent occupancy. I think that too many films were released in the past few weeks and this has adversely affected Kurbaan.”

We then spoke to the public to find out why they haven’t gone kurbaan over Kurbaan. 23-year old Eka Lakhani from Lokhandwala says, “I was dying to see Kurbaan as I had heard a lot about it. The film started very well, but soon I realised that there was neither any love story nor any terrorism track. Kareena and Saif got lost in the second half and I had to look for their scenes together. The terrorism part wasn’t explained well either.”

34-year-old Menka Chandiramani from Seven Bungalows says, “I was quite impressed by Kareena and Vivek’s acting but the film hasn’t stayed with me. It had nothing new to offer. Moreover, I wonder why there was so much brouhaha about Kareena and Saif’s sex scenes. We have seen much more than this in Hindi films.”

The director of Kurbaan, Rensil D’Silva, put up a brave front. He says that people are trying to bring down his film. “That happens with every new film. But you know, I am getting a lot of calls and text messages from people whom I don’t even know saying that they have enjoyed my film. I am basically a creative guy. The best people to talk about this will be the distributors of Kurbaan (UTV).” However, Siddharth Roy Kapoor, CEO of UTV remained unavailable for comment.

Karan’s first film with UTV, Wake Up Sid raked in average returns but failed to be a profit-making proposition. And the audience’s thanda response to Kurbaan has only made things worse for Dharma and UTV.

By Subhash K Jha (MUMBAI MIRROR; October 20, 2009)

Unlike most producers, Karan Johar has realised that it’s no use shoving costly films into competitive zones on clogged Fridays.

Consequently, a wiser Karan has decided to release his Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor starrer Kurbaan on November 20 instead of November 27 to avoid a clash with Priyadarshan’s Akshay Kumar-Katrina Kaif starrer De Dana Dan.

Director Rensil D’Silva says, “We will be releasing Kurbaan on November 20 as no other film was scheduled to release on that day. We want to avoid a clash with any other film. Why not release solo when we have an empty slot? Clashes don’t help anyone.” Siddharth Roy Kapoor of UTV,  confirms the change of schedule and says, “Nov 20 is a better release window as we get a clean week, clear of any competition.”

By Deeptiman Tiwary and Abhijit Sathe (MUMBAI MIRROR; September 23, 2009)

Rakesh Maria

Some of the top distributors in Bollywood may be aiding and abetting film piracy. This fact came to light after Mumbai Crime Branch busted a major racket involving employees of two major post-production companies and some pirates who have in the past six months pirated 11 films even before they were released.

The pirates have revealed the names of some distributors who gave them information on ready-to-be-released films and even helped procure copies of masterprints.

The latest masterprint that fell into their hands was of Ashutosh Gowariker’s What’s Your Rashee?, slated to be released on Friday.

The Crime Branch has arrested six people, including a business development manager from Adlabs Films and an associate vice president from UFO Moviez, in connection with the case. It has also found that the entire racket is being run from Karachi in Pakistan.

A Crime Branch officer said, “The accused have revealed the names of some distributors who were helping them with information on where the films were being processed  and who were the people who could be contacted for a masterprint. They also facilitated these liaisons.”

Crime Branch chief Rakesh Maria said, “There are some people from inside the industry, but we are still verifying their exact role and involvement. It would be premature to reveal their names as of now.”

HOW THE CASE WAS CRACKED

What’s your Rashee?

The Crime Branch was investigating a piracy racket involving copies of Dil Bole Hadippa! when it stumbled upon information that the masterprint of What’s Your Rashee? was out and would be delivered to a man in Kherwadi.

A Crime Branch team under Senior PI Ansar Peerzade and API Naik laid a trap on Sunday morning and arrested three people, Afsar Hyder Hussain alias Ashraf, 26, Firoz Irfan Khan alias Salim, 23, and Tanzim Ali Sayed, 26, and recovered pirated CDs of What’s Your Rashee? and Dil Bole Hadippa!.

During interrogation they told police that they had got the copy of the film’s masterprint from business development manager with Adlabs, Durgadas Bhakta, and associate vice president (operations and digital mastering) with UFO Moviez, Rajesh Chaudhary for Rs 2 lakh.

Following this, Crime Branch arrested the two along with Bhakta’s associate Ajay Pal, 27.

While Adlabs has processed What’s Your Rashee? UFO was entrusted with the job of digitising the film and releasing it in multiplexes by uplinking it to the satellite. It was at UFO that Chaudhary made a copy of the film on his laptop and wrote it on a DVD.

Both Bhakta and Chaudhary got Rs 1 lakh each for the job.

THE KARACHI ANGLE

The pirates also disclosed that they would send a print to one Asif in Karachi who would further distribute them to various countries including Bangladesh, France, Germany, Netherlands and Indonesia.

INDUSTRY REACTS

An official spokesperson from Adlabs said, “Our security measures makes us one of the most protected and safe environments for motion picture handling. The incident regarding What’s Your Rashee? is not attributable to us in any manner.”

Siddarth Roy Kapoor of UTV said, “We are currently in the process of determining the exact events that have transpired, but have been assured by the authorities that the print was recovered before any damage was done. On a lighter note, we are very encouraged at the huge demand for What’s Your Rashee? amongst the pirates, but would urge them to wait three days to watch the film in all its glory on the silver screen.”

Anurag Kashyap is making a film on the life of the revolutionary poet, Pash, with Irrfan Khan playing the man who challenged the establishment
By Subhash K Jha (MUMBAI MIRROR; August 22, 2009)

Irrfan Khan

Anurag Kashyap

Unknown to anyone, Anurag Kashyap has been travelling all over Punjab in the past few months, gathering information on the revolutionary poet, fondly called Pash. It looks like his plans of making a biopic on Guru Dutt are on the back-burner as his work on Pash, whose real name was Avtar Singh Sandhu, is occupying all his time and            interest.

Pash is to Punjabi literature what Pablo Neruda was to Chile, a direct, deep voice of dissent which threatened the establishment so much that they packed the poet off to jail on false charges. Pash died at the age of 38 under mysterious circumstances and Anurag has spent the last months piecing together the mysterious life of the revolutionary poet, whose lines form a huge part of Punjab’s rich cultural heritage.

To play the poet in a film adaptation of his life, produced by UTV, Anurag has zeroed in on Irrfan Khan. The actor too, has been busy preparing studiously for what might just be his most challenging role till date.

Our source said, “Irrfan is reading up on Pash, his poetry and life. He’s also learning Punjabi and is taking singing lessons so that he can recite Pash’s poems well in his own voice.”

While people close to the film remained tightlipped, Anurag sent us a cryptic message that said, ‘I finished shooting it.’ He refused to elaborate further. Our sources, however, insist that Anurag is yet to even begin the shoot. The producers are being extra cautious about the film because Pash continues to be a controversial figure in Punjab even today.

“Anyone can try to stop the project,” said a source. Siddharth Roy Kapoor of UTV said, “The film is still in development stage.”

Closure of multiplexes for three days spells disaster for the season’s most-awaited movie; Bollywood badly hit by year’s continuing poor run
By Indu Mirani (MUMBAI MIRROR; August 13, 2009)
2009, one of the worst years for Bollywood in recent times, just got battered some more. Tuesday’s call for closure of all multiplexes for the next three days means that one of the year’s most-awaited films, the UTV-produced Kaminey, takes a hit. Here’s why: Mumbai is the most lucrative film territory in the country. Seventy per cent of a film’s gross earnings in the first week comes from collections in the opening weekend and Mumbai accounts for 40 per cent of that.

In Kaminey’s case, for instance, the paid previews, a relatively new concept that allows one to see a film before official release at a premium, were all sold out. “We had paid previews at 12 locations in Mumbai and we will suffer a loss of around Rs 50 lakh per day on an average on account of cancellation,” says Devang Sampat, senior vice president, Cinemax. “However we are covered by insurance.”

The Shahid Kapoor-Priyanka Chopra caper directed by Vishal Bharadwaj was to be one of UTV’s big films of the year and is slated to be released across the world with 1,200 prints. The bigger the film, the more number of prints to saturate the market, which producers hope to encash in the first week itself on the strength of the hype built around it.

Both Mumbai and Pune are big markets for such films. Once the film has been seen elsewhere there is the danger of it getting stale and an even bigger risk is of piracy.

“The prints are out and people will be looking at getting pirated copies to Mumbai to satiate the curiosity, it can spell doom for a film,” says a trade analyst not wanting to be quoted. Something similar happened to another UTV film, Oye Lucky, Lucky Oye, which was released in the weekend of the November 26 terror attack when fear psychosis of another kind kept people indoors and away from cinema theatres. By the time Mumbaikars woke up to the idea of entering a cinema hall, the damage had been done and a perfectly good film paid the price for it.

Rumy Jaffrey, the director of Life Partner, the other film to be released along with Kaminey this Friday, said, “This is just a financial loss. The important thing is to safeguard everyone’s health. However, I would like to say that since the government has taken such a decision, it should also look into the piracy problem. I hope they try and stop pirated CDs and DVDs coming in to Mumbai.”

However, UTV Motion Pictures CEO Siddharth Roy Kapoor still remains upbeat, pointing out that in the absence of any major release till September 18, Kaminey still stands a good chance. Vishal Bhardwaj, the film’s director, refers to the closure as an unpleasant surprise, but also points to the, “terrific buzz about the film all over India and the fact is that Mumbai and Pune are not all that India is about. Yes, I can’t deny that they are important, but I also can’t deny swine flu,” he said.

Sandeep Bhargava of Indian films which is releasing Life Partner also said that they were going ahead with the film’s release as it was too late to withdraw and push the release. “All our prints have been sent across India,” he said.

With just one mega hit so far – Love Aaj Kal – and the film industry still to recover from the two-month multiplex ban earlier this year, Bollywood’s run of bad luck continues.



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