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  • SC asks ex-apex court judge who probed Guj encounters if he shared the final report with other members.


The star loses sparkle

Even the presence of megastars could not save Thugs of Hindostan09 Dec 2018 | 1:38 AM

Who would have thought Thugs of Hindostan (TOH) would be a dud. Call it disappointment of the year, massive let-down or one of the worst films of super dependable Aamir Khan, it fell like a thud at the boxoffice. Last records show it collected a mere Rs 150 crore.

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Nonika Singh

Who would have thought Thugs of Hindostan (TOH) would be a dud. Call it disappointment of the year, massive let-down or one of the worst films of super dependable Aamir Khan, it fell like a thud at the boxoffice. Last records show it collected a mere Rs 150 crore. 

Even a small-budget film like Badhaai Ho crossed Rs 200 crore. But for a big-budget movie from the house of Yash Raj Films, made at a cost of Rs 300 crore, riding high on the shoulders of not just Aamir Khan but also veteran superstar like Amitabh Bachchan, the collection is mere peanuts. 

The final figures for TOH are shocking despite being an Aamir Khan film. In the past, his blockbuster movies have set new milestones for the boxoffice collections and made the Rs 100 crore and even the Rs 200 crore club redundant. A minimum of Rs 300 crore is expected to be the boxoffice gross for any of his films. 

His films not only earn mega bucks in the Indian market, but in international markets as well. Dangal raked in $190 million in China. The movie became the 30th biggest hit of 2016 worldwide after displacing Johnny Depp and Mia Wasikowska’s Alice Through the Looking Glass. His Secret Superstar made over Rs 750 crore in the Land of the Dragon.

Since 2006, Mr Perfectionist’s run on the marquee has been unerring. The man with Midas touch has delivered time and again, unfailingly hitting the bull’s eye. If Rang De Basanti (2006) was a superhit, so was Fanaa (2006). The tag of ‘blockbuster of all time’ has been appended to at least five of his movies. 

It is, then, not surprising that expectations from an Aamir Khan film always run sky high. So strong had been the buzz around TOH and so sure had been the producers that the YRF even raised the price of the ticket. 

Today, apart from other reasons, the high price of ticket is also being attributed to its downfall. But the real nemesis of TOH lies within itself, the way it turned out. From a dull script to being dismissed as the pirated version of Pirates of the Caribbean to missing entertainment value, reviewers emphatically rejected the film, describing it as a mishmash of sorts. Even the most generous critics and those perceived as biased towards the YRF, failed to find any credible basis to applaud it. 

Besides negative reviews, the film was undone by the Twitterati response who had a field day posting unsparing memes. The trollers went overboard. #history repeats itself; #8th November 2016 #demonetisation 8th November 2018 #ThugsOfHindostan... to sample a few. 

According to Taran Adarsh, "I have always said that if audiences are kingmakers, they are ruthless as well." Add to it the fact that they have become more demanding and their profile is changing by the hour. 

Aamir fans, on the other hand, have remained steadfast in their loyalty. For them, his presence in any film is a sure-fire guarantee of good content. To be fair, he hasn't disappointed in the past. PK, 3 Idiots, Dangal ... his choice of scripts has been usually reliable. Besides, he is that rare superstar who can take a back seat if the script so demands. 

In the past few years he has mastered the art of shining even in cameos (Delhi Belly, Secret Superstar). 

After TOH sank at the boxoffice, Khan was quick to go in damage-control mode, aware that his fans will not settle for anything less than the best. He apologised to viewers and took full responsibility for the film’s critical and commercial failure. “Very brave of him to have done so, even though the buck ideally stops with either the director Vijay Krishna Acharya or the producer,” says Komal Nahata, a noted trade analyst. 

For those who are trying to read more into the debacle, Nahata clarifies, “It was a bad film that deserved to tank. How can you have a film doing well where catalysts are more important players in the game of revenge and the protagonist is reduced to an extra?”

Comparisons with Lagaan, India’s official entry to the Oscars, are odious, feels Nahata. Except for the fact that both films are set in pre-Independence era and star Aamir, there is no other point of similarity. Nor does Nahata think it will put any dent in Brand Aamir, whose track record of the past 12 years has been impeccable. Adarsh agrees, “Brand Aamir is too powerful and one flop in an illustrious career can’t do much damage. Just wait and watch, he will bounce back with something bigger and better.” 

According to sources, Aamir, who is known to be picky, was somewhat sceptical about TOH and wanted the release date to be postponed. Producers, however, held their ground. 

According to trade pundits, the flop only proves what critics have always said — content will always remain the driving force behind any movie’s success. 

In strictly commercial terms, TOH’s failure could have spelt trouble for the Hindi film industry had it come in any other year. But since 2018 is packed with several superhits, TOH’s unenviable fate is unlikely to have much impact. 

It is true that the film was expected to earn at least Rs Rs 300 crore but the dismal collections are not likely to cast an ominous shadow over the industry as a whole. Nor does it signal an end of mega-budget blockbusters. If Aamir can’t be written off, nor can be big-ticket films. India’s most expensive film 2.0 was made at a staggering cost of Rs 543 crore. It collected Rs 400 crore within four days of its release. 

May be there are lessons for the YRF who must realise that good content is irreplaceable and no amount of star quotient can work wonders by itself. As for Aamir, he may look fallible and not so invincible as he appeared prior to the debacle of TOH. But one misstep can’t dislodge him from his unassailable position or from the reigning Khan triumvirate.

No Paisa vasool

When a film tanks at the boxoffice it's not just the producers who lose money, distributors stand to lose as well. There are reports that many distributors, especially in the Mumbai circle, are asking for refund. 

This is not the first time though that such a thing has happened. In the past, Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan, and even megastar Rajinikanth, are believed to have compensated distributors when their films have bombed at the boxoffice. The list of films includes SRK's Dilwale and Jab Harry Met Sejal, Salman's Tubelight. He reportedly returned Rs 35 crore for Tubelight. 

These too bombed

Weight of expectations and hype has marred many a big-budget film.  

Jab Harry Met Sejal: King of romance Shah Rukh Khan and the ultimate balladeer of love Imtiaz Ali could not ignite any spark. Budget: Rs 115 cr. Collection: Rs 64.33 cr. 

Tubelight: Superstar Salman Khan and director Kabir Khan lost the plot. Budget: Rs 135 cr. Collection: Rs 119.26 cr.

Bombay Velvet: It was not short on talent, but director Anurag Kashyap and hero Ranbir Kapoor could not retain viewers’ confidence. Budget: Rs 118 cr. Collection: Rs 30.36 cr  

Rangoon: Director Vishal Bhardwaj and stars Kangana Ranaut Shahid Kapoor failed to stir viewers' imagination. Budget: Rs 60 cr. Collection: Rs 20.68 cr.

Guzaarish: Viewers showed little mercy even though it was directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali and had Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai as lead pair. Budget: Rs 74 crore, Collection: Rs 40 crore.

The star loses sparkle.
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