The shockingly low collections of Vishal Bhardwaj’s eagerly awaited period war epic Rangoon has shaken the film industry to the core. In the 57-year history of Sajid Nadiadwala’s production house Rangoon has recorded the lowest box office collections ever. That’s not all. Viacom 18 Motion Pictures who have co-produced Rangoon with Nadiadwala, are looking at losses close to Rs 45-50 crores (unless the film does a miraculous turn-around at the box office, which seems unlikely).
A leading producer-director who has helmed significant period films in the past says Rangoon goes wrong in taking the audience for granted. “Vishal Bhardwaj is an educated filmmaker. He knows Indian history. But the average Indian viewer is not familiar with World War 2 or Subhash Chandra Bose’s parallel Freedom Movement. Films that take audiences into the past don’t work unless they can connect with viewers. Period.”
Trade analyst Atul Mohan makes some pertinent point as to why the film met a dismal response. “Right from the first promo, the excitement which is associated with a movie of this scale couldn’t be generated. Audiences could feel their disappointment after the first trailer. The connectivity with audiences was missing. Also, there is a lack of hit music. Vishal Bhardwaj films do decently well if public responds to his music.”
Atul also points out that the critics did not support the film after they previewed Rangoon. “The makers showed the film to a handful of selected critics before release so that on social media platforms they could generate heat. But here the critics played it safe by praising only the performances and camerawork but they said nothing about film on whole. The twitteratis are smart now and they smelled foul. The film’s length was also tiring. Had the film been entertaining the audience would have asked for more.”
After release the not so great reviews also contributed to the low opening. Says Atul, “As we all know a bad word spreads faster than good word. The high production cost is also one of the factors that will ultimately make Rangoon a losing proposition. But that is a burden which will solely be borne by Viacom 18. It is sad that filmmakers bring this kind of financial burdens on studios.”
Says trade analyst Amod Mehra, “The problem with the film is, the audience is confused whether it is a love story or a war movie. And if it is a war movie, it is about a war which we are not familiar with.”