The audience always has its own (seemingly unanimous) opinions on whether to patronize a film or not. However, strong word-of-mouth (w-o-m) can change their minds instantly, check slow openers that went on to be big at the box office. like A Wednesday, Vicky Donor or lately Badlapur and Dum Laga Ke Haisha. When going to the movies is a costly affair for a family these days, w-o-m is even more vital!

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Of course, for any family’s entertainment budget, the number of films watched each month becomes important too. The release timing is thus a small factor for films minus superstars. Circa 2015, Baby had a clear three weeks before Ranbir Kapoor’s Roy, which had nothing to fear from Badlapur a week later. And after it proved a surprise packet, Badlapur too seemed to have a clear field for a few weeks. That was the theory.

Baby, Roy, Ab Tak Chhappan 2, Badlapur and Dum Laga Ke Haisha movie posters
Baby, Roy, Ab Tak Chhappan 2, Badlapur and Dum Laga Ke Haisha movie posters

What actually happened, however, was that Baby, though appreciated by critics and sections of the audience, is inching towards 96 crores, after almost 40 days! And that, for its 75 crore budget, makes it a loser. More than the lack of music, the shortfall in emotions and long length undid the film.

Roy opened marginally better than Baby (main causes: hit songs and Ranbir Kapoor’s upmarket GenY appeal) but lost the race by Monday. But Badlapur took off by w-o-m after a just-average (thanks to music and Varun Dhawan) start. It grew over the weekend to settle into a nice first week before taking a decisive but explicable drop in week two, thanks to its ‘Adult’ content.

Dum Laga Ke Haisha opened low at Rs 1.11 crore, in just 769 screens (mostly multiplexes), but grew in leaps and bounds, notching up Rs 2.85 crore on opening Sunday. And Monday’s figure of Rs 1.08 crore, because ‘plexes reduce rates substantially from day 4, proved that a greater number of people went to watch it! By weekend, DLKH had already trounced its bigger co-release, Ab Tak Chhappan 2, which had opened higher!

What’s more, DKLH’s second weekend (after also releasing in more single screens) shows a growing trend (1.72 and 2.44 crore till Saturday). The cute freshness, great music and it being 2015’s first truly family film with a pan-Indian appeal made all the crucial difference, though the three non-starter films that have come in helped it too! However, it is the strong content that really scored.

And so, the bottom-line is good content. The Indian audience has evolved, but has not changed deep inside, over 85 years of talkie-watching! Their staple diet is still wholesome emotions, manoranjan and some hummable music. And in 2015, they have declared, louder than ever, that they have had enough of movies that do not deliver.

For them, it’s black or white, gray will no longer do.

– Rajiv Vijayakar, a Senior Journalist, Film & Music Critic and Historian for Hindi cinema and Film Music. An Author and Jury Member (58th National Film Awards). 

Rajiv Vijayakar tweets @rajivvijayakar

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