Box Office Predictions for Jab Harry Met Sejal:
The Hindi film industry is going through an extremely rough phase. The post-IPL period, which normally had a 100% success rate, saw its first box office failure this decade (2010 onwards) in the form of Half Girlfriend. Arguably the biggest star in the country, Salman Khan, saw his first box office failure this decade during the occasion of Eid, with Tubelight. Ranbir Kapoor and Katrina Kaif, two of the biggest stars, had a huge box office flop with Jagga Jasoos. Last week’s release, Mubarakan, gained some appreciation from the audience, but the opening was too low for the film to really go anywhere.
Is it the Baahubali 2 effect, where the audience is now only willing to spend their hard-earned money on films that they feel are worth it? Or, is it just that the industry keeps churning out weak films? I think it’s the latter!
All eyes are now on one star to save the industry: Mr. Shah Rukh Khan. The baadshah of Bollywood, as he is fondly called. He has the highest grosser of the year till now with Raees. In fact, this is SRK’s first film since Main Hoon Na (2004) to lead the year as the highest grosser of year when entering the month of August. Joining his team this time for his next film are Anushka Sharma and director Imtiaz Ali.
More than starpower, it’s eventually the content that does the talking at the box office. So, will Jab Harry Met Sejal be the film to get the Hindi film industry back on its feet? Unfortunately….the answer is no!
The biggest negative factor is director Imtiaz Ali. Sure, there is a small section of viewers that love his films. That can also be seen on websites like IMDB, where his films are generally highly rated, and may even be the case with JHMS. The problem though is that this doesn’t translate to the Indian audience. Rockstar (2011) was his last box office success, and even that film had mixed audience WOM (Word-of-Mouth). His two directorial ventures after that, Highway and Tamasha, both failed at the box office. As a matter of fact, his last film that was very well-appreciated by the Indian audience was Jab We Met, which released almost a decade ago! To expect Jab Harry Met Sejal to be as well-appreciated by the audience as Jab We Met is just wishful thinking.
Another negative factor is the casting of Shah Rukh Khan in this role. He is at an age now where he no longer suits romantic roles. As a matter of fact, the Indian audience didn’t really take to some of his recent romantic films such as Dilwale and Jab Tak Hai Jaan. The fatigue/age is visible on his face, and was noticeable in Dilwale. The audience eventually gets bored of seeing SRK in such roles, unlike the 90s and 2000s when he was delivering historic romantic blockbusters such as Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. Also, some of the dialogues being spoken by SRK in Jab Harry Met Sejal, such as “main ladkiyon ko gandi nazar se dekhta hoon” don’t suit him, given his age and his romantic/family image he has created over the years.
The urban romantic genre is another drawback. The highest grosser from these type of films is Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, which grossed 106 crore nett, and that too was with the help of Diwali period. Expectations are another thing: with an ADHM, it is easier to get away as the main star in the film Ranbir is more of an urban star and the audience knew well to expect urban content in the film, and eventually the film reached Hit status despite mixed WOM with the help of Diwali and Karan Johar as a director. For an SRK starrer like JHMS, there will be an audience in mass centres coming initially and they will be disappointed in the film.
The characters of SRK and Anushka in the film are also drawbacks. With one being a Punjabi character (SRK) and the other being a Gujrati character (Anushka), the film loses its ability to connect all over India. Of course, these same elements will appeal to the Punjab and Gujarat states.
It’s not to say the film itself will be a disaster though. The theatrical trailer was decent, with some dialogues and scenes standing out. The scene where SRK tells Anushka that he hasn’t found God till date, and the scene where Anushka tells SRK that she’s not the type of woman to run away from her fiancé only for SRK to reply “hass le…baad mein pata chal jaayega” are both impressive scenes/dialogues that stand out. The film also seems to have drama as the trailer suggests and as is usually there in Imtiaz Ali films.
Overall, I feel the audience WOM will be mixed in multiplexes/cities, and negative in small/mass centres, as this film looks too urban to appeal to the latter audience. The all-India WOM will be similar to JTHJ and ADHM, which interestingly, were two urban romantic films starring Anushka as well (JTHJ had SRK too) and both grossed almost the same amount as eachother, at 101 and 106 crore nett respectively. Those two films had the advantage of the Diwali festival (and Katrina as an addition for JTHJ). JHMS unfortunately doesn’t have a festival release and thus, I feel this film will collect lower than those two films. Unlike ADHM, JHMS lacks chartbusting songs as well, with only Radha and perhaps Hawayein to an extent gaining popularity. Chartbuster music is a must for a romantic film.
Being a Shah Rukh Khan starrer, the opening is obviously going to be huge. I’m expecting the opening day collection to be higher than Fan (which collected approx. 19 crore nett) as although that film had the advantage of a partial holiday, it was a multiplex film riding on SRK’s shoulders only. JHMS is also a multiplex film and doesn’t have the partial holiday advantage, but at least has Anushka Sharma and songs as well for added support. However, I do feel the opening day collection will be lower than SRK’s recent huge mass openers such as Raees and Dilwale, which both opened at approximately 20 crore nett despite each film facing a clash, respectively. This is SRK’s first theatrical trailer of a film without any mass-appeal action scenes since JTHJ.
Raksha Bandan is a partial holiday, and the major holiday for Independence Day is during the film’s second week, by which I expect the film’s collections to already be dying due to mixed-to-negative public WOM and the release of Akshay Kumar’s Toilet – Ek Prem Katha during that week, a film which seems to have universal appeal and will dent the collections of JHMS.
The Indian distributor rights have been sold at approximately 75 crores, which is an insanely high amount for a multiplex film, no matter how big a star there is in the film. The distributors are expecting 160+ crore nett business in India from an urban-looking multiplex film, which is simply not going to happen.
My Box Office Predictions for Jab Harry Met Sejal:
- Opening Day: 19.5 crore nett
- Opening Weekend (Fri-Mon): 60+ crore nett
- Lifetime Collections: 93 crore nett
- Overall Box Office Verdict: Flop
Yes, I feel that the film will fall short of the 100 crore mark. Shah Rukh Khan’s Raees will remain the biggest grosser of the year for now.
The article has been written by Bobby Sidhu who is a box office enthusiast and have an internship in a tax firm in Canada. You can follow him on Twitter Bobby Sidhu.
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