"Aa Raha Hoon." Eid 2016. These were the words delivered to the public in July 2015, when the first teaser of Raees was released. There was big news all over. Raees vs Sultan. Shah Rukh Khan vs Salman Khan. It was going to be the mother of all box office clashes.
Alas, it was not meant to be! Raees ultimately backed away from the clash. The result? Unwanted negativity for Raees.
"SRK darr gaya"
"The makers of Raees are not confident in their product"
Statements like these were being made by many. Raees then finds itself a new release date, one that makes you scratch your head: Republic Day 2017, the same period as when Hrithik Roshan's Kaabil hits theaters. "Why? Why back away from one clash, only to clash with another film, and that too on a smaller holiday release period like Republic Day?" is what everyone asked in unison. The answer? Well, only God knows, and maybe Shah Rukh and his team!
With all of this negativity towards Raees, it was absolutely CRUCIAL for the theatrical trailer of Raees to hit a sixer, a home-run so to speak....and it did exactly that. The theatrical trailer of Raees garnered huge appreciation from all quarters and at that moment, all negativity that the film had until that point washed away.
The dialogue promos and song promos released afterward (especially Laila and Zaalima) have further contributed to the hype into making Raees a hot film as they have been well appreciated by the public. Of course, the biggest positive about the film...
Mr. Khan. Shah Rukh Khan.
This looks to be one of the best performances of his career. His intense yet cool style, dialogue delivery. His larger than life presence. Even the little subtleties, his simplicity in his dialogue promo where he says "Baniye ke dimaag aur Miyanbhai ki daring, dono hai apne paas," or his little laugh at the end of the "battery nahin bolneka" dialogue promo....this looks to be a killer performance from SRK!
Some have been critical with Nawazuddin Siddiqui not being an equivalent on-screen rival for SRK due to his lack of star power and less imposing physique, but everyone is well aware of what a fine actor he is. The general perception is that he is a terrific actor, and that's why I'm sure that the confrontational scenes between SRK and Nawazuddin will be met with whistles, claps, and cheers at single screen cinemas.
The film as a whole looks like a full-on mass entertainer....everything about SRK, and the dialogues of the film, the songs, the 70s/80s type vibe, the action scenes, the cop/villain drama....it will be very well appreciated by the audience in mass centers and single screen cinemas. However, with that being said, if the film has a conclusion where SRK's character dies (which I think there is a possibility of happening), that may not go down so well with the single screen/mass audience as they like to see their hero be as heroic as can be.
Regarding the audience word of mouth in multiplexes, bigger cities and metros, I think the WOM will be mixed: hardcore SRK fans will be very entertained by the film, but the neutral audience that would include those who are not really fans of SRK would not appreciate the film too much, as they would feel that the film has a "been there, done that" sort of vibe to it as it doesn't seem to offer too much novelty and comes across as a typical masala entertainer. A section of the multiplex audience would like the romantic track between SRK/Mahira (especially ladies), but another section would find it to be a hindrance and would instead want to see more of SRK/Nawaz type confrontation scenes and story build.
There is a concern with two other factors: Excel Entertainment (producers) and Rahul Dholakia (the director). Excel Entertainment has had a very poor track record at the box office (especially as of late), and since they've started, most of their successful films have only managed to attain Hit verdict, not higher than that. As a matter of fact, their two past films with SRK (Don and Don 2) could only manage Hit status as well. Also, this is the first time that Excel Entertainment is making a mass/single-screen-appealing entertainer with a big star like SRK, as most of their films tend to be classy and meant for the city audience only, so there is always the potential for something to go wrong somewhere given that this is their first try at this.
The second concern is director Rahul Dholakia. He has directed three full-length films which were Kehtaa Hai Dil Baar Baar (Jimmy Shergill), Lamhaa (Sanjay Dutt), and Parzania (Naseeruddin Shah), and all three films were disasters at the box office, although the latter wasn't exactly a Bollywood film and Rahul actually won a National Film Award for Best Direction. That film did release a decade ago, though...
Overall, I feel that the all-India audience WOM (Word of Mouth) for Raees will be mixed. I feel that the WOM will be similar to films like Jai Ho and Rowdy Rathore (similar massy type films) both of which had an Ormax Media WOM score of 58%.
Actually, the comparison with Jai Ho is interesting. Both films are/were Republic Day releases with a non-holiday opening day, a Khan superstar (SRK/Salman), no popular established lead heroine, no prominent/established director, massy single screen films. The difference is that Raees wins on the music front, but that factor gets negated by Raees clashing with Kaabil. Raees does have the advantage of Republic Day falling on day 2 to boost evening/night show collections on day 1, an advantage that Jai Ho didn't have, so I feel that Raees will have a better opening day than Jai Ho. The opening day will be less than Dilwale as that film had huge buzz and anticipation for many more reasons.
However, the opening day should be slightly higher than Fan as Raees has songs and a lead heroine, whereas Fan had only one song which didn't end up even being in the film and the heroine had a very small role which wasn't even promoted. Fan did have the advantage of a solo-release though, and that too on a partial holiday. All things considered, the opening day of Raees will be very slightly ahead of Fan.
With a somewhat similar opening day and WOM as Jai Ho, I feel that Raees will have similar lifetime collections as Jai Ho, with the advantage of Raees being that the film will get the advantage of Republic Day holiday which Jai Ho didn't, as Republic Day fell on Sunday in 2014 and Sunday, of course, is a holiday already itself. However, even the Republic Day advantage for Raees isn't completely there, as there is a cricket match taking place that day that will dent collections to an extent. There is a cricket match this Sunday as well, which means that Jai Ho actually had more advantage on its first Sunday.
To be honest, if Raees had a solo release date on Eid, the film would've likely been a Blockbuster: huge bumper collections during the Eid period where even mixed WOM would've been enough to make the film a huge grosser afterward. A lifetime collection of 200 crores would've been achievable. But now, with this clash again Hrithik Roshan's Kaabil, Raees will have to settle for less. Really, one wonders why two big films with two superstars even need to clash on a weaker period like Republic Day anyway, where there is only one main holiday! The only films to cross the 120 crore mark in this period are Agneepath and Airlift, both films which had very good WOM. Raees will cross the 120 crore mark because, with the strong opening day, even mixed WOM will be enough to get there.
My Box Office Predictions for Raees:
Bobby Sidhu is a box office enthusiast from Canada. You can follow him on Twitter here https://twitter.com/srkat14.
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