In spite of two A-listers featured in the two major Diwali releases this week, the advance-booking trend is far from encouraging. According to sources from several multiplexes, the pre-release ticket sales for Indra Kumar’s Thank God and Abhishek Sharma’s Ram Setu are among the lowest recorded for the two A-listers, Ajay Devgn and Akshay Kumar who feature in the two films.
Says Bihar’s exhibitor Roshan Singh, “Forget about Diwali dhamaka. There is not even a whimper of interest in Thank God and Ram Setu, in spite of Devgn and Akshay in the lead. There was a time when Diwali releases were almost sure shot hits. That is no longer true.”
 
 
A post shared by Sidharth Malhotra (@sidmalhotra)

One reason for the abysmally low-interest level in this week’s Diwali releases is the shrunken purchasing power of consumers. After Covid and the pandemic, there is little money left for the wage-earning middle class after buying Diwali essentials. Movies during Diwali are not happening.No money, boss.
 
 
A post shared by Akshay Kumar (@akshaykumar)

Sidharth Malhotra who recently completed ten years in the film industry urgently needs a hit. I doubt Thank God can do the trick. It is doubtful that director Indra Kumar can make a convincing joke out of religion. Such satires are best suited to Gujarati stage. Indra Kumar never grew beyond staged gags and theatrical giggles. Sadly the audience has moved on.
Neither of the films looks interesting enough for the audience to make that effort to wade through traffic and other hurdles. In fact, the title of the three Diwali films Thank God, Ram Setu and Har Har Mahadev all seem to suggest they are mythological films when in fact they are not.
Thank God is a religious satire (and hence very dicey at the box office). Ram Setu is a thriller; but with his last four releases (Bachchhan Paandey, Samrat Prithviraj, Raksha Bandhan and Cuttputlli) proving critical and commercial disasters, there is hardly a chance in a million that audiences would put their hard-earned money on a new Akshay starrer.
Besides, audiences don’t like Akshay in a beard, hair extension, and other props. Remember Vipul Shah’s Action Replayy (with two ys, why???!!!)? Even the man-bun that Akshay sported in Dishoom was rejected.
This week’s third release, again with a misleading mythological title Har Har Mahadev. may prove to be the saving grace this week. It is a Marathi historical, dubbed into Hindi, on a little-known Maratha soldier Baji Prabhu Deshpande who commandeered Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s army.
Har Har Mahadev is likely to be the dark horse of the festive season, made at a fraction of the budget of Ram Setu and Thank God. As for the other purported biggies, even Ram and God can’t save them.
Subhash K Jha is a Patna-based film critic who has been writing about Bollywood for long enough to know the industry inside out. He tweets at @SubhashK_Jha.
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