Salman Khan in a recent interview revealed that his films are critic proof and even minus 1000 stars would not stop the audiences from visiting the cinema hall. The statement made by the superstar is partly true but point being ‘just partly’! There are two sections of audiences in India i.e. urban and rural. The urban audience is what we call the multiplex audience in today’s time whereas the rural audience is the single screen audience of India. Off late, there has been a trend of making the film catering towards the urban audiences by placing the characters against the conflicts faced by people in the major cities of India. The audiences of such films have access to the social media and primarily depend on the critic reviews to plan their outings. As against the urban audience, the rural audience of India, which forms the majority, plan their outing based on the theatrical trailer and the songs.
Khan’s recent release, Tubelight was devoid of all commercial elements and found a place in the category of film dependant on word of mouth as well as critic reviews (from credible reviewers). Director Kabir Khan put off a section of the audience when he presented the superstar, known for his larger than life aura, as a slow learner aka Tubelight.
It isn’t that audiences won’t accept Salman Khan in such a character as even Bajrangi Bhaijaan wasn’t a quintessential commercial film. But the fact remains that such movies need a certain amount of positivity around it to get the audiences in the cinema hall. And that pre-release positivity to a certain extent is provided by the critic reviews which is then padded up with positive audience word of mouth which in totality leads to massive growth in collections over the extended holiday weekend.
Tubelight isn’t the first Salman Khan film which has been panned by the critics; films like Bodyguard, Ready, Prem Ratan Dhan Payo and Dabangg 2 got even worse reviews, but still went on to emerge as blockbusters. Why just Salman Khan, commercial entertainers of a lesser known star like Tiger Shroff too have been slammed by the critics, but his films (Heropanti and Baaghi) sufficed the needs of single screen audiences thereby emerging successful.
The single screen audience in India is craving for a desi film and in the last 7 years, Salman Khan has catered to their demand and in return, the superstar got tremendous love from the audiences.
Given the early response, Tubelight might be the first flop for Salman Khan since Veer (2010), however, it would still be the highest grossing Hindi film of 2017 by surpassing Raees (Rs 133 crore). But that wasn’t even a challenge for Salman Khan as the film has been sold to NH Studios for a record breaking amount of Rs 135 crore (approx) which means that the film had to earn above Rs 250 crore to just ‘Break Even’.
There has been a section of people on social media who believe that Tubelight has not opened well owing to the ‘poor promotions’, but that surely isn’t the case. As Salman Khan said in an interview with us , the audiences today are smart enough to decide whether to watch a film or not based on the trailer. It cannot be denied that the trailer of Tubelight failed to evoke any sort of excitement among the audiences.
While Tubelight needed the positive reviews as well as good audience response to get the things rolling in its favour, Khan’s next film, Tiger Zinda Hai, to a certain extent belongs to the ‘critic proof’ zone as it caters to the Pan-India audience.
Himesh Mankad is a freelance film journalist based out of Mumbai. He can be reached at @himeshmankad
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