When Tubelight failed to light up the box office, the mighty Salman Khan had reportedly agreed to refund the distributors’ money. And since we all know that once he commits, he doesn’t even allow himself to change his mind, he did pay off close to Rs 35 crores.
Proof lies in the pudding. Komal Nahta shared the news.
In rare gesture,SalmanKhan to refund approx Rs 35 crore today to distributors & exhibitors as compensation for losses suffered in Tubelight— Komal Nahta (@KomalNahta) August 11, 2017
Jab Harry Met Sejal and both came tumbling after, Shah Rukh Khan found himself standing before empty theatres and angry theatre owners, too. Of course, looking as dapper as always, arms spread, dimpled.
He compensated 15 – 30 per cent of each distributor’s losses, depending on their stakes, though this isn’t the first time he’s had to do something like this — Paheli, Asoka, Dilwale — haarkar jeetne wale ko Baazigar kehte hain, indeed.
Today, Aamir Khan finds himself standing at the same threshold. With Thugs Of Hindostan.
Is it too late now to say sorry? (Source: YouTube screen grab)
Thugs’ abysmal performance at the box office has miffed everyone — distributors, theatre owners, critics, audience, and especially Johnny Depp (we believe) because he read somewhere that Thugs was a copy of Pirates of The Caribbean, and that Aamir’s character Firangi was inspired by Jack Sparrow. And Aamir understands that.
“I want to apologise to my audience as this time I wasn't able to entertain them. I know people came in theatres with a lot of expectations but they didn't enjoy the film... We certainly tried our level best and I am feeling really bad that we didn't succeed in entertaining the audience. So, next time we will try harder,” Aamir said on a stage provided by Cinestaan India's Storyteller’s Contest 2018, that celebrates great scripts. Something that was particularly lacking in Thugs Of Hindostan.
Aamir, however, has superbly skirted the topic of refund, even as exhibitors are reportedly demanding it. A fair ask, we’d say given that the film was made on an approximate budget of Rs 300 crores and managed to make only Rs 145 crores through ticket sales. He'd much rather play dress-up in the meantime. Totally adorable, yes, but hey, distributors.
So, the question is, why are the Khans incessantly apologising for their brand of cinema? The answer lies in your phone.
By virtue of being megastars, the Khans always promote their films like there’s no tomorrow.
Salman’s Tubelight became the first Bollywood film to have its own character emoji. They even partnered with Facebook for an exclusive camera filter. Those emojis and filters were put to good use when the film started being trolled on social media.
Shah Rukh launched Radha, a song from Jab Harry Met Sejal in Ahmadabad amidst female fans called Sejal only. Innovative gimmick, wonderful execution, but a rather disappointing outcome, especially for those Sejals when they went to watch the film.
Thugs Of Hindostan took over Google Maps, with Aamir’s Firangi guiding you to your destination as he rode his pet donkey. If only it could navigate the film to greener pastures.
Much like the donkey, we are not amused. (Source: Twitter/YRF)
But social media is a double-edged sword. And if filmmakers, actors and production houses can use its army to promote their films, they should very well be ready to face the music when things don’t go their way.
For it is not as if big banner films have never tanked in the past. But seldom did Amitabh Bachchan, back in the 70s, have to apologise for a flop. If a film flopped, it flopped, and it was simply forgotten. Trade reports, however appalling, were kept away from public knowledge. Word of mouth, obviously, reached far fewer ears compared to a humble tweet.