Just when the makers of the much anticipated film Udta Punjab heaved a sigh of…
MUMBAI: With all the hype around Udta Punjab following the producers’ fight with CBFC, the film was expected to do well at the box office. However, barely 48 hours before the release, the film was leaked online and now the question that everyone is asking is — will it affect Udta Punjab’s collections at the box office?
It’s a common knowledge in the film industry that the fate of a film is decided in the first three days of its release, given the rampant piracy that ensures film is downloaded and watched on computers and mobile phones rather than in cinema halls. In Udta Punjab’s case, the movie was leaked online even before the film was released.
We asked Akshaye Rathi, leading Bollywood exhibitor and Manoj Desai who owns iconic theaters like Maratha Mandir and the Gaiety-Galaxy about the fate of the film in the wake of the massive run-up the film got via the controversy over censorship and the subsequent online leak. Both had a contrasting view point to offer.
Manoj Desai is of the opinion that the film leak will affect the film’s performance at the box office in a huge way. “The film is now on almost everyone’s phones. Ever since the torrents went live, everyone has been downloading and watching the film. This will definitely affect the film’s collections. It will come crashing down at once. Even I have downloaded the film out of curiosity and this leak will definitely be a big blow to the film now,” he said.
Desai has blocked all his shows for the screening of Udta Punjab on Friday. “For films like these, you don’t really have advance bookings like for a film with bigger superstars. It will be only after my first show begins that I can predict the opening figure.
On the contrary, Akshaye feels that the leak won’t affect the film much. “I am of the opinion that it will hardly affect the film. Maybe there will be a marginal effect of it. People who want to watch it in theatres will still watch it there and people who want to watch it online, they will definitely watch it online, irrespective of when the film is leaked. So I don’t think the film’s opening will be much lower than what it was expected to do on day one.”
This had happened in the past too like Shah Rukh Khan’s My Name is Khan. SRK faced the ire of Shiv Sena after he refused to apologise for his statement of including Pakistani players in IPL. The political party stalled the film’s screening at many places in Mumbai. The film could not fare exceptionally on the domestic front but it still managed to put up a big worldwide total, thanks to its brilliant overseas collections.
Ask Akshaye about it and he disagrees, “Gone are the days when such incidents will affect a film’s box office performance. If a film has to do well, it will do well no matter what. For example, the biggest box office blockbuster in Bollywood is PK. It did around Rs 325 crore at the box office. We all know that the day PK released, the pirated version of the film was available in DVDs, torrents. But did that stop PK from being India’s highest grossing film ever? No! Similarly, people who are waiting to watch Udta Punjab will watch it in cinema halls.”
Being an exhibitor, Akshaye deals with figures day in and day out. When asked to predict the film’s box office performance, he explains it in details.
But that might not be enough for the film to recover its investment. Akshaye reveals, “The film is made on a total budget of around Rs 40 crore including promotion and activities. For a film like Udta Punjab, the music would be sold at around Rs 3 crore max and the digital rights can go maximum for another Rs 5 crore. Plus, Udta Punjab isn’t a satellite friendly film at all. So the film has only recovered around Rs 8 crore (approx) before its release. Now, to just break-even it has to bring in double the remaining figure which is around Rs 65 crore. That seems difficult, with or without the leak.”
Will Udta Punjab be able to fly high at the box office? Friday’s acid test will answer that.