Tubelight’s poor performance at the box office over the weekend makes one question if his foolproof Id release formula has finally hit a glitch.
Salman Khan’s Id formula seems to have hit a roadblock. For years now, the superstar has kept his big releases slotted for Id, and each time, each year, the movie has gone on to become a blockbuster hit.
It started in 2009 with Wanted — a remake of Telugu hit Pokhri, where the actor played the role of an undercover cop, taking on the bad guys and protecting the woman of his dreams. It became the second biggest grosser of the year.
Then, 2010 saw Dabangg, which was the biggest release of the year, and the run continued through the years, right up to 2016 and Sultan, where Salman earned points both at the BO and among critics.
However, this time round, his Tubelight failed to hit the mark. Not only is it far from being the biggest grossing film of the year, it has around half the collection that Baahubali 2 made in the theatres over the first weekend. In fact, it has earned less at the BO than foe-turned-friend Shah Rukh Khan’s Raees! Unlike most of Sallu’s other films, the film did not earn anything close to the Rs 30 crore mark.
On the big release last Friday — June 23, the collection was 21.15 crore. June 24 saw a collection of 21.17 crore. The film raked in another 22.45 crore on June 25 and only 19.09 crore on Id — June 26.
A representative of a leading multiplex chain sighs, “We added a show of Baahubali 2 on Monday (Id) at the last minute. It went full. Not one show of Tubelight at our multiplex chain recorded capacity audiences. For last year’s Id release, Sultan, we had to add shows to accommodate crowds.”
The question now is have Salman’s fans finally abandoned him for better plotlines? Or is this just a one-off thing?
Trade analysts say this is Salman’s weakest film in years. Says Amod Mehra, “There was talk in the industry, whether Tubelight would cross Baahubali 2 collections. Now all are worried as to whether the film will even break even. Such an unpredictable turn of events!”
Komal Nahta, who has given the film a scathing review, says that ultimately it is content that matters. “It doesn’t matter even if it is Salman Khan. Ultimately, the loyalty of even the most ardent fan is with himself, and no one will spend money on a film that doesn’t meet the mark at terms of content. Raees did better in the box office because it had a better story to tell. The audiences are looking for good stories nowadays. Even Salman’s presence isn’t enough,” he asserts.
Analyst Taran Adarsh, who has also tweeted his disappointment with the film, says that the pace of the digital age means that a preliminary review reaches the audience so fast that no one wants to actually go and watch a film that’s facing flak.
“Expectations were really high when it comes to this film. However, if the content of the film fails to meet the mark, nothing can be done. Today, social media gives you an update on the film after the first show. No one has to wait to read the papers or check it out for themselves. If the movie gets bad reviews on Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter, few will go and watch it,” he rues.
Taran also adds that it may have been the high expectations from the Kabir Khan-Salman duo that put a strain on the film. “People were expecting crackling content, like with Bajrangi Bhaijaan, when the two had last come together. When those expectations came crashing down, no one really wanted to go anymore. Id should have seen houseful theatres but that wasn’t the case,” says a disappointed Taran.
Film critic Raja Sen adds, “Tubelight has earned okay by most measures, but considering it is a Salman Khan Id release, it significantly comes a cropper. Beaten by the Allu Arun Telugu release, DJ from the South, it showed low occupancy on Friday and could barely pick up over the weekend. The producers are safe with the pre-release deals, but the widest released Hindi film of all time has certainly not matched up to commercial expectations.”
Meanwhile, the superstar is unfazed. Says Salman’s brother Sohail, “Bhai would be worried if his fans felt let down. He is genuinely concerned about the ticket paying audience, which spends its hard-earned money on watching his films. He doesn’t want them to feel disappointed.”
Taran too is hopeful that the superstar will make a comeback next year. “This year has been an anomaly in a long run of successful releases. Salman has been doing films with good content recently with releases like Bajrangi Bhaijaan and Sultan, and I’m sure he’ll make a comeback with his next movie,” he says.
All in all though, Tubelight didn’t really switch on for Bhai’s fans.
With inputs from Subhas K Jha