In January cinema screens have been graced with Shah Rukh Khan’s Raees and Hrithik Roshan’s Kaabil, both making decent worldwide box-office returns. However, in February, one of the most-anticipated Bollywood films of the year, Rangoon, failed to create magic at the box office.
The Vishal Bhardwaj film earned less than $4 million in one week, a paltry number considering the movie’s roughly $8 million budget and the high-profile stars in it — Saif Ali Khan, Kangana Ranaut and Shahid Kapoor. Rangoon was released in around 1,800 screens across India on February 24. While expectations were high that the film would pick up later, that did not happen. It is very rare that a “can’t-miss” Bollywood blockbuster eats dirt at the box office.
Rangoon didn’t have an ambitious pre-release marketing campaign, the trailers didn’t exactly make everyone sit up and neither did the songs get popular enough to create a buzz for the film. It was to all boil down to how a majority of the audience reacted to the film on day one, the reviews and the word-of-mouth that Rangoon would generate. Unfortunately, the reactions were largely negative and that just didn’t help the film gather steam at the box-office.
While there are 3 names credited as producers on Rangoon, namely – Viacom 18, Sajid Nadiadwala and Vishal Bhardwaj, the monetary brunt of the film’s failure will be borne solely by the studio, Viacom 18.
Vishal figures as the producer for his creative contribution and for being guy executing the project, Nadiadwala comes in as the producer for having initially signed on Bhardwaj for the film and got the team together. Nadiadwala would have then sold the film to Viacom, who figure as producers since they are the financiers, marketers and distributors of the film. So, while Nadiadwala has made his profit by selling the film to Viacom, the studio will have to take the hit of Rangoon’s box-office performance.
Among the cast – Saif Ali Khan, who hasn’t had a bonafide hit since Race 2 (2013) will have to wait a little longer before he gets to register another success against his name.
The actor’s market value has been dipping after having several misses at the box-office – Go Goa Gone, Bullet Raja, Humshakals, Happy Ending and Phantom. Last heard, producers were vary of investing even Rs 20 crore in a project with Saif in the lead. Rangoon’s unimpressive run won’t help Saif, which is a pity because the actor has been turning around some remarkable performances. Hopefully, Raja Krishna Menon’s remake of Chef with Saif amongst other ingredients will be able to rustle up that juicy hit that the actor has been hungering for.
While many agreed on the absence of any chemistry between Julia and Nawab Malik in Rangoon, most critics and the audience were all praise for Kangana and Shahid’s individual performance in the film. Luckily, both Kangana and Shahid are still resting on the laurels of Tanu Weds Manu 2 and Udta Punjab respectively. Kangana will be next seen in Hansal Mehta’s Simran – inspired by the desi ‘bombshell bandit’ who robbed banks in the US, and that sounds like something right up the actress’ alley. Meanwhile, Shahid has Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmavati to keep him busy. Rangoon’s fate may not affect Kangana and Shahid as much as it would Saif.
However, it’s been made clear that even a combination of Saif, Shahid and Kangana can fail to draw a decent opening for a film unless there is good content which creates an immediate positive word-of-mouth for the film.
Coming to Vishal Bhardwaj, the filmmaker found the ideal mix of critical acclaim and box-office success with his previous film Haider. His latest, was of course much more ambitiously mounted and hence it needed massive footfalls in theatres to take it to profitability. Bhardwaj’s mastery over his craft is unquestionable but his ability to deliver a film that will find resonance with the masses isn’t. I’m guessing his next will be a smaller film, perhaps in the Maqbool zone with the Bard for company which will keep both his producers and fans happy.