MUMBAI: Kabir Khan’s war drama Tubelight has not brought joy this Eid to lead actor Salman Khan or his fans. The film made only Rs21.15 crore and Rs64.77 crore over its first day and opening weekend respectively according to movie website Bollywood Hungama. These figures pale in comparison to Khan’s previous Eid blockbusters, all of which have consistently stormed the box office on the holiday weekend he has come to be associated with.
In 2016, Yash Raj Films’ wrestling drama Sultan emerged as the highest opening-day box office take of the year, raking in Rs36.54 crore on its first day and making Rs180.36 crore over the weekend. In 2015, Kabir Khan’s own widely acclaimed drama Bajrangi Bhaijaan brought in Rs27.25 crore and Rs102.60 crore over its first day and opening weekend respectively.
Even though the 2012 action film Ek Tha Tiger made Rs32.93 crore and Rs100.16 crore on its opening day and weekend respectively, it still did better than Tubelight. Even Khan’s 2014 Eid release Kick earned Rs26.40 crore and Rs83.83 crore.
To be sure, while all of these were Eid releases, some, such as Sultan hit screens mid-week and enjoyed extended holiday weekends unlike Tubelight that arrived in theatres on a regular Friday. But the general excitement level for the film remains relatively low, say people in the trade.
“There never was that initial spark in the film to pull crowds in,” said distributor Brijesh Tandon, who operates in the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh circuit. “Reports that came in after the first couple of shows were fairly ordinary. People were apparently walking out quite early.”
Khan’s film, set during the Sino-Indian conflict of 1962 registered 25-30% occupancy in its earliest shows in the 4,350 screens it released across domestically.
The reason for a damp opening, experts say, boils down to the non-commercial vibe of the film. Unlike the typical Eid entertainer Khan’s fans expect every year, Tubelight has neither catchy songs nor a larger-than-life, all-powerful, macho protagonist. Its music didn’t catch on before the release either.
Based on 2015 American film Little Boy, the war drama has Khan portraying a small-town simpleton waiting for his army man brother played by Sohail Khan to return home. He is neither removing his shirt nor saving the world.
“This isn’t a typical Salman Khan film. After watching him play everything from a sharp spy (Ek Tha Tiger) to a fearless cop (Dabangg) on Eid, how do you expect Salman’s fans to accept him as an immature child crying through two hours of a film’s running time and getting slapped by supporting actors?” reasoned Atul Mohan, editor of magazine Complete Cinema.
Mohan expects the film to do better on Monday and Tuesday, the two days benefiting from Eid and Basi Eid (the day after Eid). However, the real test begins Wednesday, he added.
“The film didn’t get the kind of opening expected but it wasn’t entirely bad either,” Mohan reasoned. “There are no major releases next week so it might be able to bring in about Rs140-150 crore by Thursday.”