Salman Khan. Kabir Khan. Eid. Really, can it get bigger?
In Eid 2012, the superstar came together with the director to deliver a monumental Blockbuster, Ek Tha Tiger. The film itself received mixed feedback from viewers, but they
shocked viewers three years later. I remember before the release of Bajrangi Bhaijaan, I predicted the film would be a Blockbuster, but I felt that it would be a routine masala fare. Imagine my shock (along with others), when the early critic and audience reviews started pouring in, that the film is a masterpiece. A classic. IMDB rating of 8.1/10, the current rating that stands! The more the audience cried, the more the makers laughed their way to the bank, and it became the first film of Salman Khan to enter the 300 crore club.
Two years later, the duo reunites with Tubelight. Will Tubelight light up the box office and the hearts of viewers? .....Not quite!
Sometimes, reality becomes something else altogether. The unexpected. Let's analyze this a little more deeply. The teaser was released first from Tubelight and received a mixed response. Then, the theatrical trailer released, which generally received a positive response, but one can't help but feel something was missing!
Let's get down to the root of the first, major problem: Little Boy. Little Boy failed at the box office and received negative reviews from critics. The question then is, why did Kabir Khan decide to base his film on a flop Hollywood film? In the past, Hollywood films that failed at the box office were made into Bollywood remakes with similar results: Knight and Day (Flop) to Bang Bang (Semi-Hit because of star power and holidays), and Warrior (Flop) to Brothers (Flop) are examples. The makers claim that only the basic idea has been taken from Little Boy, but with the teaser of Tubelight ending with Salman posing the same way the child Jakob Salvati poses in Little Boy, it's hard to say how much they really have borrowed from Little Boy!
The second problem, Salman Khan. Kabir Khan has called this Salman's career-best performance, but opinions on his performance through the promos have been extremely mixed. In Bajrangi Bhaijaan, Salman was portrayed as a man with a heart of gold, who is willing to get aggressive when the need calls for it. In Tubelight, his character seems too similar, but instead of that added aggression trait (which always works so well with the single screen audience), it has been replaced by a trait where it seems Salman has a mental disability in the film. This could go against the film, as Salman's biggest fans (smaller centres/mass-dominated areas) want to see Salman's aggressive, action image on display, rather than a mental disability. Also, Salman is looking aged and overweight in the promos. It'll be interesting to see how Salman's acting gets received by viewers, but I feel the general feedback will be mixed, which is a step down after he delivered what many felt were two of his career-best performances in Bajrangi Bhaijaan and Sultan.
The next problem, Kabir Khan, the writer. Kabir Khan has written the story of three films: Kabul Express, Phantom (co-writer), and now Tubelight. Both Kabul Express and Phantom failed at the box office, which is not a good sign for Tubelight. One must not forget after all, that the writer of Bajrangi Bhaijaan was someone else: K. V. Vijayendra Prasad, the story writer of Baahubali and Baahubali 2.
Another problem: Salman Khan and Sohail Khan. It seems almost every time they have come together in the past, things have not gone well. With the exception of Maine Pyaar Kyun Kiya? other films like Hello (Salman had a promotional song), Heroes, God Tussi Great Ho, Salaam-e-Ishq, Main Aurr Mrs Khanna, and Veer all failed at the box office. Even when Sohail was a director, three of their four films (Auzaar, Hello Brother, and Jai Ho) did not perform well at the box office, the exception being Pyaar Kiya Toh Darna Kya. Their brotherly combination has been cursed in the past, and the curse could continue with Tubelight as well.
In Bajrangi Bhaijaan, the child in the film (Harshaali Malhotra) was a Pakistani, which made it a lot easier for the public of India to connect with. The child was being played by an Indian as well. In Tubelight, however, the presence of a Chinese actress (Zhu Zhu) and a Northeastern kid Martin Rey Tangu will not be easily identifiable with the Hindi audience, especially those in smaller centres/single screens.
SRK's presence and his scene with Salman will tear the house down with whistles and claps, no doubt, especially since they are sharing screen space after 10 years (Om Shanti Om in 2007). However, sometimes too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. It appears a lot has been packed into this film, which makes me feel even more that somewhere along the way, something must've gone wrong during the making of this film.
Now, from reading all of this, it seems as if I have only written about how bad the film will be. The film won't be that bad. It may not be bad at all. Kabir Khan has shown his capabilities as a director, the film has an Indianness feeling to it (similar to how Bajrangi Bhaijaan had), the Radio song is a hit, and the war scenes and Salman/Sohail scenes will work with the audience. Overall, I think the film will receive mixed public WOM (Word-of-Mouth). Little Boy, a box office flop, has an IMDB rating of 7.4/10, and I feel the WOM amongst the urban audience for Tubelight will be a step below (WOM for Bollywood films inspired by Hollywood always tends to be lower than the original), suggesting decent WOM. WOM at single screens/mass centres will be mixed, as that audience would like the Salman/Sohail, Radio song, and war scenes, but not really be impressed by the other elements in the film, especially Chinese characters and Salman's lack of a macho/heroic image in the film.
Now, to break down the collections. 100 crore nett is a given because it's Salman Khan's film. Another 100 crore nett is a given because it's Salman Khan's film releasing during Eid. 200 crore is given. After that, is the question mark. Bajrangi Bhaijaan, widely considered an excellent film, collected another 115 crores after it reached the 200 crore mark, for a total collection of 315 crore nett. Sultan, another well-appreciated film but not at the same level as Bajrangi Bhaijaan, added another 100 crore after the 200 crore mark to reach a total of 300 crore nett. Given that I feel Tubelight will have mixed WOM (lower WOM than Bajrangi Bhaijaan and Sultan), I feel that the film will add approximately 50 crore after the 200 crore mark, for a total of 250 crore nett, which is the point where the film will just recover costs. The lifetime collection (250 crore nett) will be the middle number right in between Kabir/Salman's previous two films, Ek Tha Tiger and Bajrangi Bhaijaan. However, that is a high enough collection for the trade to label the film as a "Hit."
Tubelight will have a non-holiday opening. It feels like both Dangal and Tubelight had similar pre-release buzz, with both lacking some commercial ingredients and a popular heroine. However, Dangal got the benefit of amazing reviews for its advance booking. PK and Bajrangi Bhaijaan had similar buzz levels, with the ladder edging out with a higher opening day. I feel Tubelight will have a similar opening day collection to Dangal but will fall way short of Dangal in terms of lifetime collections.
My Box Office Predictions for Tubelight:
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