By Alokananda Chakraborty
A lot was riding on the two Bollywood films that released coinciding with the festival of rakshabandhan — Raksha Bandhan and Laal Singh Chaddha. But early numbers show these two will likely join the train of recent Bollywood flops like Ranbir Kapoor-starrer Shamshera, Akshay Kumar’s Samrat Prithviraj and Kangana Ranaut’s Dhaakad.
Raksha Bandhan, released this Thursday to draw in the rakhi holiday crowd, fell flat on its second day of release after a lackadaisical opening day. The film, made with an approximate budget of over Rs 70 crore, debuted with a disappointing Rs 8.20 crore on its first day and raked in a measly Rs 6.40 crore on Day Two, according to reports. That’s around Rs 14.60 crore in total. As per analysts, theatre owners cancelled as many as 1,000 shows of the film on Friday after its average occupancy remained in single digits.
The film was a washout in south India, where Akshay Kumar doesn’t enjoy much of a following. “While the film fell flat in metros and multiplexes, it seems to be faring a tad better in the mass markets of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Gujarat,” points out film critic and trade analyst Taran Adarsh.
This is now the third box office dud in a row this year for the star — who had almost single-handedly ensured the success of the Khiladi franchise in the Nineties — after Bachchhan Paandey (box office revenue Rs 50 crore) and Samrat Prithviraj (Rs 68 crore). The 2021 Sooryavanshi was Kumar’s last superhit movie, raking in a total of Rs 196 crore as per Bollywood Hungama.
The Aamir Khan-starrer Laal Singh Chaddha — reportedly made on a whopping budget of `180 crore — seems to be going the same way, though it has fared somewhat better than Raksha Bandhan. According to early estimates, its Day One collections (Thursday, August 11) stood at Rs 11.70 crore and Day Two Rs 7.26 crore. That’s a total of Rs 18.96 crore.
Laal Singh Chaddha had an overall 14.30% Hindi occupancy on Friday, August 12, leading to show cancellations in some regions.
Now compare these two with SS Rajamouli’s Telugu-language epic action drama and one of India’s most expensive films, RRR (Hindi): Its Day One (March 24, 2022) collections stood at Rs 19 crore and Day Two Rs 24 crore.
That’s a cool Rs 43 crore in two days flat, more that double the collection of Laal Singh Chaddha in the same time frame and about three times that of Raksha Bandhan.
Now consider the performance of the Hindi-dubbed Telugu blockbuster Pushpa: The Rise. Day one (December 17, 2021) was Rs 24.9 crore and day two Rs 13.68 crore. The total, Rs 38.58 crore, was about Rs 5 crore less than RRR, but ahead of Raksha Bandhan and Laal Singh Chaddha by a long chalk.
Adarsh says Laal Singh Chaddha saw a massive drop in viewer traffic on day two not just in the mass pockets but even in multiplexes. “Its two-day total is alarmingly low for an event film,” he says, adding it would be extremely crucial to score from Saturday through Monday. “Don’t write it off so soon, Monday is a big holiday so let’s wait and watch.”
Agrees Sreekant Khandekar, serial media entrepreneur, journalist and co-founder of A&M, afaqs!, The Mobile Indian, Kulzy: “Don’t dismiss the film as a flop just yet. If the feedback is good, the theatres could start filling up. It’s happened before. I use a ‘squeaking index’ to gauge if people in a theatre are enjoying a film. When a film is boring, viewers fidget and keep moving in their seats — hence the squeaking. Yesterday, in a 2.4-hour film, there was pindrop silence right through…” Agreed. Even Ramesh Sippy’s Sholay was initially a box office bummer but slowly picked up pace and became the first movie to cross Rs 10 crore in revenue.
Cut to the present. The saving grace is that Laal Singh Chaddha still finds a spot on the list of the top five biggest Bollywood openings of the year, which includes Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 (Rs 14.1 crore), Bachchhan Paandey (Rs 13.2 crore), Laal Singh Chaddha (Rs 12 crore), Samrat Prithviraj (Rs 10.7 crore) and Gangubai Kathiawadi (Rs 10.5 crore).
Some viewers say Raksha Bandhan will likely follow the trajectory of Akshay Kumar’s 2009 dud Kambakkht Ishq, which made a little over Rs 7 crore on day one and concluded its run barely touching Rs 45 crore.