New Delhi: Director Rohit Shetty's dream run continues at the box-office with the unprecedented success of 'Chennai Express'. The film opened to packed houses despite getting mixed, mostly negative, reviews. Though 'Chennai Express' had the essential ingredients of a commercially successful film, still the magnitude of its opening was unanticipated. So, what prompted 'Chennai Express' to garner such an overwhelming response?
The number game
Film critic Pratim D Gupta says, "The big opening of a film has more to do with the star cast, the period of release and the buzz around the film rather than the quality of the movie. Chennai Express is the latest in line of many films - others mostly starring Salman Khan and Akshay Kumar - that have opened big but received a lot of flak from critics."
He further says, "It's good that we in India now have a mix of all kinds of films doing well. For every Chennai Express, there is a Ship of Theseus. For every Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, there's a BA Pass. So it's a healthy mix. What's happening in India is nothing different from how it is in Hollywood. There too, the Michael Bay films with young stars do spectacular business and films of Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep have limited release and limited success. Quality and box office have never been on good terms."
The role of the reviewers
Another film critic Haricharan Pudipeddi has a different perspective, "Firstly, critics review or feedback doesn't decide the fate of a film at the box-office. It might happen one in a million times. Secondly, I believe cinema is always like nine blind men perceiving an elephant. Each one of us perceives a film differently. One might like a film and the other may not. A film panned by critics may be loved by audiences and vice-versa. Moreover, the success of a film, today, is attributed to its box-office success and not to the ratings of a critic."
The arithmetic of the box-office
Taran Adarsh, film critic and trade analyst, compiles the reasons of the film's success, "The records continue to tumble! By now, we are well aware of the juggernaut called Chennai Express that's creating havoc at the domestic as well as international box-office. The previous records have been shattered. New ones have been created. It only goes to prove that an unbeatable combo (SRK - Deepika - Rohit Shetty - UTV), combined with aggressive marketing, festive period and of course, entertainment in colossal doses can do the trick."
Many of the audience cribbed about the film's content but 'Chennai Express' is not likely to slow down anytime soon. So, who are these people that are making it a superhit? Pratim says, "I'm guessing fans of Shah Rukh Khan, fans of Rohit Shetty and fans of Deepika Padukone, not necessarily in that order. The most heartening thing about Chennai Express's opening is that it reinstates SRK's superstardom, which had become a little questionable, given the big numbers Salman, Akshay, Ajay and even Ranbir were delivering."
Is the trend going to continue? Haricharan reacts, "This trend has been there since time immemorial. However, the changing taste of audiences seems to have brought some change in the trend. I hope we also embrace good films and help them make tons of money as we make these numerous brainless entertainers mint week after week."
Once Upon Ay Time In Mumbai Dobaara
'Chennai Express' may come to a halt on August 16 when another big starrer 'Once Upon Ay Time In Mumbai Dobaara' will hit the screens. Adarsh says, "The actual test for Chennai Express will begin with the arrival of Once Upon Ay Time In Mumbai Dobaara on August 15. The screen count will be reduced, while the audience will have one more biggie to look forward to. A clearer picture will emerge over the next weekend, but one thing is for sure: This Express has set new benchmarks and the forthcoming biggies will have a tough time overpowering it and staking a claim for the top slot."
Pratim sums up his arguments in a straight forward way, "Critics are well aware of how big these films open. They can't tweak their reviews to suit box office numbers. A bad film is a bad film even if it breaks a million records."