31st March 2000 – It was the last day of the last financial year of the millennium gone by. 90s was the decade of several romantic movies, many of which were catering to the NRI audiences. Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol’s Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge had paved the way for many such romantic dramas to follow. There were several action films made too with Akshay Kumar spearheading many such affairs. While he had seen several successes, there were quite a few low points as well. This is when he did Hera Pheri and the film released on that day.

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Everything changed post the release of Hera Pheri!

20 Years Of Akshay Kumar, Suniel Shetty, Paresh Rawal's Hera Pheri: The Priyadarshan Film That Changed The Way Comedies Were Made
20 Years Of Akshay Kumar, Suniel Shetty, Paresh Rawal’s Hera Pheri: The Priyadarshan Film That Changed The Way Comedies Were Made

Akshay Kumar demonstrated amazing hold over comedy and showed that he could go beyond action roles as well. Suniel Shetty was fantastic with his deadpan act that raised ample humor. Paresh Rawal was a riot as the Maharashtrian landlord who was perpetually broke. Priyadarshan got a standing for himself in the industry as a prolific maker of several comedies. Firoz Nadiadwala paved the way for several big budget comedies in time to come.

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Incidentally, the film hadn’t taken a fantastic start all over the country. It opened quite well in Mumbai due to the local flavor and also down South as audiences there were quite familiar with Priyadarshan’s work. However, up North it was quite ordinary. In fact the opening day just about managed to cross the 60 lakhs mark, which was low even by standards and ticket rates back then. The film went on to find some momentum over the weekend to come close to the 2 crores but that too couldn’t be termed fantastic since the start was low.

However, the real game began during the weekdays when the film doubled up the weekend and closed around the 4 crores mark. From there, it went on to grow from strength to strength and ended up having a run of over 10 weeks in several centers. The film went on to triple the first week collections, a remarkable feat, and zoomed past the 12 crore mark. For a film that was made at a budget of around 8 crores, this was revenue of around 150%.

Considered as a cult classic, it went on to see an even more successful Phir Hera Pheri and the wait is already on for Hera Pheri 3 to go on floors. As and when that happens, the film is set to take a bumper opening for sure.

Joginder Tuteja tweets @tutejajoginder

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