October 20, 2000


    Consider: Approximately 300 prints of each film will be released in India. Assuming the average seating capacity to be 800 (since both the films will open in big cinema houses in their first round), it would mean 4,80,000 people (300 x 800 for Mohabbatein and 300 x 800 for MK) in one show.

    Komal Nahta

    They make for good bedfellows.

    Megabucks. Mission Kashmir. And Mohabbatein.

    For the two films spell money for their distributors. Big money. Witness the large number of prints ordered for both the films.

    Manmohan Shetty, owner of Adlabs, the laboratory that is processing both the films, confirms,"We have an order for 400 prints for each film."

    And the number is only likely to increase as the release date approaches. It does not take much divining to guestimate that both films will break all earlier records as far as the number of prints released in the first week goes. The first print of Mission Kashmir was out on Friday, October 13. More prints will soon be made.

    Meanwhile, the prints of Mohabbatein are underway at Adlabs.

    And though Manmohan Shetty has not seen either of the films, his preview theatre at Bombay's Film City has been witness to three trial shows of Aditya Chopra's second film. The only people who have seen it are family members and close friends of the Chopras, technicians and the stars of the film. The stars' show, incidentally, was the third one.

    The hype that is being created only serve to heighten the prospects of these films, as far as opening draws are concerned.

    A cursory look at the collections the films will gross reveals startling facts:
    ** The first week's collections alone will gross Rs 24 crore. This is more than 75% of the combined cost of production of the two mega films.
    How I have arrived at this figure?
    Consider: Approximately 300 prints of each film will be released in India. Assuming the average seating capacity to be 800 (since both the films will open in big cinema houses in their first round), it would mean 4,80,000 people (300 x 800 for Mohabbatein and 300 x 800 for MK) in one show.

    Mohabbatein is scheduled for 3 daily show screenings and Mission Kashmir the usual 4 shows.

    Thus, the per day audience for the two films will be 2,40,000 x 3 (Mohabbatein) and 2,40,000 x 4 (Mission Kashmir).

    That is to say 7,20,000 people will view the Yash Chopra film per day.
    And per day, 9,60,000 persons will see the Vidhu Vinod Chopra film.
    That makes it 16,80,000 people.
    Multiply this by 7 and we have 1,17,60,000 people viewing the two films in the first week.

    Of course, that is if the two films draw full houses through the week. Assuming occupancy at around 80%, it would mean 94,08,000 persons in week 1.
    Again, assuming the average ticket rate to be Rs 25, this attendance would translate to a gross of Rs 23,52,00,000.
    Yes, a fantastic Rs 23.5 crore!
    That is the gross collection.

    Out of this will be deducted the entertainment tax (which is very high) and theatre rentals before the distributors get their share of the pie.

    Which brings me to the ticket rates.
    Reports have it that the main cinema halls in almost every city will be hiked up this Diwali. Heralding the price-rise are, of course, Mohabbatein and Mission Kashmir.

    The dubious distinction of the cinema with the highest admission rates in the country will be claimed by Bombay's elite theatre, Metro. The cinema will screen Mission Kashmir with revised rates of up to -- hold your breath! -- Rs 150 per head in the Dress Circle!

    Stalls tickets will cost Rs 60 and Balcony, Rs 100.

    The question is, would people still buy cinema tickets at such exorbitant rates? "Absolutely," declares Nester D'Souza, the affable manager of Metro, his confidence ringing through the phone line.

    What Nester means is that for one, it is the festive season. Second, the hype around MK has reached sky-high expectations. Its music, too, has caught on well.

    The price hike is not permanent, though. Nester reveals that the management will bring down the ticket prices whenever the numbers start dwindling.

    But then, Hrithik commands a super initial draw. That translates to people flocking in large numbers to see the film.

    And that brings me to the stars. For the first time ever, this Diwali has three superstars vying for acting honours: Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan and Hrithik Roshan.

    Of course, you can't overlook the fact that Aditya Chopra himself is a superstar among directors. His very first film, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, had surprised the audience and the industry with its freshness and clarity.

    Interestingly, the film had overtaken the biggest hit of 1995 -- Rakesh Roshan's Karan Arjun, the Salman-Shah Rukh starrer had released in January 1995 and reigned supreme till October.

    Then came DDLJ in October and shattered all BO records.

    In 1995, it was Adi's film versus Rakesh Roshan's film.

    Now, 2000 has Adi's film versus the Hrithik Roshan starrer. Incidentally, this year, too, the biggest hit so far is Rakesh Roshan's Kaho Naa…Pyaar Hai!

Diwali hitlist over the last five years:

1999: Hum Saath Saath Hai (Superhit -- except in Delhi-U P and East Punjab)
1998: Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (Blockbuster)
1998: Bade Miyan Chote Miyan (Above Average)
1997: Dil To Pagal Hai (Hit)
1996: Ghatak (Hit)
1996: Raja Hindustani (Blockbuster)
1995: Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (Blockbuster)

    The interesting fact to note is that any genre of films works on Diwali. It is not necessary that the fare must be a romantic or a family film.

    Ghatak was an out-and-out action drama. Bade Miyan Chote Miyan might not have hit the bull's eye but it did keep its investors happy. It was a comedy.

    Hum Saath Saath Hai was a family drama whereas the remaining four films were love stories.

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