First Befikre, now Meri Pyaari Bindu…India’s poshest film producers Yash Raj Films seem to have lost it. And to think that Aditya Chopra, the scion of the exceptional banner was till recently Bollywood’s most adventurous talent provider!
Sadly that spark seems to have gone out of the Yash Raj films. The last really outstanding film produced by Adi Chopra was debutant director Sharat Katariya’s Dum Lagaa Ke Haisha. Thereafter came the big-budgeted detective dud Byomkesh Bakshy which nearly wiped out director Dibakar Bannerjee’s career.
Followed Fan in 2015 featuring ‘King’ Khan Shah Rukh who has given the maximum number of hits for the Yash Raj banner with its helmer Yash Chopra and then his son Aditya Chopra. Fan in 2016 directed by Maneesh Sharma (who gave the Yash Raj banner that sleeper hit Band Baaja Baaraat in 2010) was another major disappointment from Yash Raj and one of the lowest earners in Shah Rukh Khan’s career.
Last year Aditya Chopra returned to direction for the first time since Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi in 2008 (according to me Aditya Chopra’s finest directorial undertaking, a sly homage to Satyajit Ray’s Apur Sansar) with Befikre, a smutty, raunchy, horny Parisian lust tale featuring Aditya Chopra’s prized discovery Ranveer Singh with Vaani Kapoor.
Befikre was as embarrassing a makeover for Aditya Chopra as Main Prem Ki Deewani Hoon for Sooraj Barjatya. A lot was hanging on Yash Raj’s new Meri Pyaari Bindu. The banner’s debutant directors –Maneesh Sharma, Sharat Katariya, Ali Abbas Zafar, Kabir Khan—have always gone on to create history in and outside the Yash Raj window.
However, Akshay Roy who makes his debut with Meri Pyaari Bindu would be remembered in the illustrious history of Yash Raj films for having delivered the slowest earner for the banner. Meri Pyaari Bindu opened at approximately Rs. 1.75 crores on Friday. This is the lowest ever opening for Yash Raj film.
You can blame it on Baahubali. But there is more to this fall from grace that Yash Raj has witnessed. Where have all the talented actors and directors gone? Yash Raj only has Salman Khan to salvage its reputation. Last year he rescued the banner from going into the dread zone with Sultan. Now this year he will return Yash Raj to form with Tiger Zinda Hai.
Salman apart, Yash Raj only has a Dhoom spoof called Bank Chor coming up for release. And that, even the staunchest supporters of the banner would agree, is quite a climb down for the once-thriving banner.
Film critic Raja Sen is optimistic. “I think Yash Raj has been in stickier situations before, with long strings of flops. Like the phase that included Ta Ra Rum Pum and Jhoom Barabar Jhoom, for instance. They’re too prominent and powerful to lose footing, though, and all it takes is one hit film to return.”
Trade Analyst Atul Mohan feels Yash Raj Films has the ability to bounce back. “YRF is a banner synonymous with family entertainers from its inception almost four decades back. Over the years YRF has evolved itself with changing times and trends. Befikre was one step towards it. But with its rejection the forces behind it should have got the message that you should serve what you are known for.”
However Atul feels Yash Raj’s hold over the box office is far from loosened. “As far as economics is concerned YRF has its own distribution network in India and overseas and they are not dependent on anyone for its sale. Secondly they share a very healthy relationship with Sony where they sell all their satellite rights exclusively and raise good money. Now with big players entering the digital domain, there also they have managed to clinch a good deal. So irrespective of BO performance their movies are always in profit zone. But if they continue like this then these deals also may become a matter of concern. At the same time we also cannot ignore the fact that YRF is the only banner which can boast of working with all the three Khans at a time and profit of each of these films is enough to keep the balance sheet more than healthy. So you can say that one big film from YRF is enough to ignore smaller films’ fate. But we should also applaud the banner for giving chances to younger talents and risking their monies on them.”