Diljit Dosanjh, a huge superstar in the Punjabi film industry, made waves in Bollywood last year with his debut film Udta Punjab. Not only did the film receive huge critical acclaim, but his performance in the film was also widely appreciated. Certainly, it opened the door for him to Bollywood, to a point where he was even on Rajeev Masand’s year-end roundtable session with stars like Amitabh Bachchan and Ranbir Kapoor, a session that was based on bringing the best performers of the year (from their respective films) together!
Flash forward nearly a year later, and he is starring in another Bollywood film, this time alongside Anushka Sharma, one of the biggest stars today with two recent massive all-India Blockbusters (PK and Sultan) and last year’s Diwali success, Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. With these films, she was successful in being able to reach out to the mass/single screen audience (with PK and Sultan) and the class/multiplex audience (with ADHM).
Anushka made her debut as a producer with the film NH10, a small film released in 2015 that grew with positive WOM (Word of Mouth) to emerge a success at the box office. The key difference with that film though was that the director Navdeep Singh wasn’t making his debut as a director. He wasn’t directing his first film. He directed the Abhay Deol starrer Manorama Six Feet Under in 2007, which although was a box office disaster, did win appreciation with a significant portion of viewers, which can be seen with the 7.8/10 rating the film has on IMDB. Meaning, the potential for Navdeep Singh as a director was there.
With Phillauri, director Anshai Lal is making his debut as a director. Now, that’s not to say that it’s a bad thing. It has happened many times in the past where a director has won the hearts of the audience in his/her first film itself. What it does make for is a risky situation, with a 50/50 chance of the film either working, or bombing. It becomes very difficult to predict. The only thing we can rely on is the promos, which seem to have generated a mixed response: some have quite appreciated the look and feel of the film, whereas the promos have not clicked with others.
Diljit’s Punjabi films (which are usually record-breaking in East Punjab circuit) get around an opening collection of 2 crore, which again, is excellent for the circuit. With the pairing with Anushka, he’ll easily get an opening higher than that in East Punjab circuit itself. The rest of India will be a different story though, as the film has low buzz. The rest of India will have to rely on Anushka’s pull, and to be honest, the audience will come in hordes when she is in a film with a Khan or another big star, but perhaps not with Diljit, as he is not a major All-India star. I’m expecting the film to have a slightly higher opening day collection than NH10.
After the opening day collection, I think the film will hold collections at a reasonable level for about a week, and then may see a dip in collections, all due to mixed audience WOM. The biggest advantage for the film is that there is no major release now for about a month, and the last major release (Badrinath Ki Dulhania) is starting to slow down in its collections. The scenes of Diljit-Anushka will be well-appreciated and it also looks as if those scenes have appeal for the audience in small centres. However, in the scenes with Suraj Sharma (he appears in the first half of the trailer alongside Anushka), the narrative in those scenes seems more for the classes/multiplex audience but I doubt that even they would like those scenes, as Suraj comes across as very unappealing in those scenes.
My Box Office Predictions for Phillauri:
Opening Day: 3.75 crore net
Opening Weekend: 12.75 crore net
Lifetime Collection: 28 crore net
Overall Box Office Verdict: Average
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