Its a "depressing" time for the Hindi film industry as Bollywoods bigwigs like Salman Khan and Ranbir Kapoor have failed to translate their star power into promising box office collections.
All eyes are now set on Shah Rukh Khan's "Jab Harry Met Sejal", which has a "huge responsibility" of bringing much needed respite at the ticket windows with its release on Friday, say trade gurus.
The Imtiaz Ali directorial is bringing back Shah Rukh in his romantic hero avatar after the intense "Raees", along with his "Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi" co-star Anushka Sharma.
While Salman's "Tubelight" couldn't light up the box office, Ranbir's "Jagga Jasoos" too evoked a lukewarm response. So far only films like "Badrinath Ki Dulhania" and "Hindi Medium" have done well, and "Lipstick Under My Burkha" too has been attracting the audience since its release on July 21.
So, hopes from Shah Rukh are really high, trade experts said.
"We are hoping that ‘Jab Harry Met Sejal' will bring in some respite as the whole industry and the audience is eagerly waiting for this film. The mood in the industry is very depressing right now because no major film is working at the box office," film and trade business expert Girish Johar told IANS.
"Shah Rukh is one of the biggest stars we have had in recent times. He has a very huge fan following, not only in India, but across the globe. Also, in this film he is coming back with Anushka, who is one of the top talents of our country. The film has a very good director and good music. So, it is looking as something fresh at the box office," he added.
The film's team is tight-lipped about the number of screens it is due to release in globally, as well as its budget. But it has been shot in locations like Prague, Amsterdam, Vienna, Lisbon and Budapest, apart from Punjab. The story of the movie revolves around a Punjabi tour guide Harry, who helps Gujarati girl Sejal in finding her engagement ring.
Delhi-based distributor Joginder Mahajan pointed out how "Jab Harry Met Sejal" will get a full week to prove its worth as it is not facing any clash at the box office, unlike Shah Rukh's last few films. In fact, Shah Rukh himself made a smart move by averting a clash with Akshay Kumar's much-awaited "Toilet: Ek Prem Katha", due for release on August 11.
"Shah Rukh's last few films lost out on some percentage of collection because of the clash with other big films. But ‘Jab Harry Met Sejal' will not face the same problem. It will get full one week, which is good," Mahajan said.
Another interesting factor is that the movie, produced by SRK's Red Chillies Entertainment, will have a special four-day weekend.
"That will be an interesting factor. As August 7 will be an off (due to Raksha Bandhan), people will have a good reason to celebrate Raksha Bandhan with 'Jab Harry Met Sejal'," Mahajan said.
With tracks like "Radha", "Butterfly", "Hawayein" and the latest DJ Diplo collaboration "Phurrr", the film's music has also set the pace for good bookings.
"We launched advance bookings for ‘Jab Harry Met Sajal' on our platform. There is a lot of buzz around the film and we have registered great initial interest," Paytm spokesperson told IANS.
However, the collection and sustainability of "Jab Harry Met Sejal" will depend a lot on the content of the film and the subsequent release of "Toilet: Ek Prem Katha", which promises an entertainer with a message on sanitation and open defecation.
"At the end of the day, good content works, if you see a small film like ‘Hindi Medium' has done fabulous business earlier this year. Also, a much smaller film like ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha' has done quite well. So, whenever the industry stands out in terms of content, public likes it and they watch the film," Johar said.
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(With IANS Inputs)