Of Bouquets, Footwear and Funerals

In the Hindi film industry there are some peculiar parameters that measure the popularity as well as the goodwill a person enjoys.

In 1960s and 70s, it was the number of pairs of footwear seen outside a film personality’s house, especially a star. This indicated how many producers were making the rounds of his house to keep him in good humour in order to make him agree to sign a film. That was an era when footwear was taboo in most star homes, recording-dubbing studios and production offices;  if you had the star lined up, the female actor was not a problem and, hence, no footwear count there.

Then, there was the count of the number of bouquets a star, producer or even a star’s secretary received on his birthday, wedding anniversary etc that showed where he belonged in the filmy hierarchy. A secretary would expect to receive not one bouquet less than the star he served, for he was the only way to gain access to the star.

There was one more and that was how many writers, directors, producers aspiring to sign a particular actor, were gheraoing him at his shooting location. But, that privilege was granted only to a couple of ‘close’ (close being a seasonal term) makers.

However, the most eerie way to measure the popularity and goodwill created by a film star still remains to witness the turnout that appears at his last rites (funeral).

For the electronic media, what matters most are TRPs.  There are a lot of aspects to this TRP kind of rating. Like, how big a star you were in your time (which gets you a couple of attendees at your last rites); what kind of goodwill you created and how nice you were to people around you gets a better obit note and a wee bit more attendees.

What, however, gets a deceased star a starry funeral is who all he/ she leaves behind (at times combined with the goodwill created). Goodwill in the film industry is all about how nice and committed you were in completing your films, how nice you were to the

support staff and, of course, how popular you were with your co-stars, ladies included.

2017 has so far seen the demise of about six film personalities. Thankfully, this number is far below the usual annual count; 2017’s list of departed souls include actress Reema Lagoo, seasoned and successful producer Mohan Kumar, veteran director Lekh Tandon and the actors Vinod Khanna and Om Puri.

Shashi Kapoor’s death attracted the maximum amount of media attention and the attendance of the who’s who of the industry at the funeral despite the sudden appearance of cyclonic weather in Mumbai. (Kapoor being a Dada Saheb Phadke award winner, the Maharashtra Government honoured his death with a state funeral; the body was wrapped in the Tiranga and given a three gun salute). All this showed the goodwill the Kapoors enjoy in the film industry.

The industry seems to have an unwritten code for such events as not all deaths receive similar attention. One factor that decides the attendance of ‘mourners’ at a funeral and prayer meeting of a deceased is what kind of media attention a death is expected to attract. There are some who reigned in their time but are forgotten now. Their passing  goes unnoticed. A good example is actor Bharat Bushan, a star of many jubilee hits. When he passed away, according to Shatrughan Sinha, he was the only film person who attended his funeral.

@ The Box Office

Television was treated like an untouchable by film stars for a long time. Big-screen stars would think of it as sacrilege to appear on the small screen. But finally the ads on TV proved too tempting (monetarily) to be ignored. That the first backdoor entry for the superstars on the small screen.

Then, sometime in early 1990s Shah Rukh Khan happened; a much loved TV actor who got his break in Deewana with Divya Bharati and Rishi Kapoor and backed by an excellent musical score by Nadeem Shravan.

The film was a big hit and Shah Rukh Khan became a star who still reigns. Out to make it big, Shah Rukh accepted any role that came his way and even played negative roles which any other aspiring newcomer would have avoided. He went on to become a much adored hero.

This preamble pertains to Kapil Sharma and his film, Firangi. Sharma, a stand-up comedian on TV who enjoys tremendous popularity, made his debut on the big screen with successful director duo, Abbas-Mustan’s film, Kis Kiso Pyaar Karoon, a comedy, which did reasonably well  because Sharma’s forte is comedy.

It looked like no more film offers were forthcoming for Sharma and he decided to launch his own production, Firangi. As it turned out, it was an ill-conceived and badly executed film. Sharma was expected to entertain being a comic actor instead of which he bored with the camera concentrating on him most of the time. As a result, the film tanked.

Firangi opened to a poor Rs 1.6 crore on Friday with Saturday and Sunday doing little better but not enough as the film ended its opening weekend with just Rs 6.1 crore.

Tera Intezaar, with Sunny Leone being the main attraction, managed to collect just a meagre Rs 1.25 crore.

Julie 2 collections remained poor through its first week. The film earned Rs 1.25 crore.

Kadvi Hawa, a thought- provoking film, made a low Rs 25 lakh in its first week.

Ajji fails badly and  manages to just about cross the Rs 10 lakh figure.

Tumhari Sulu reaps the benefit of poor competition and sustains reasonably well in its second week to collect Rs 8.75 crore to take its two week total to Rs 17 crore.

Qarib Qarib Singlle adds Rs 1.25 crore in its third week taking its three week total to Rs15.35 crore.

Shaadi Mein Zaroor Aana collects about a crore in its third week taking its three week tally to Rs 9 crore.

Ittefaq adds Rs 35 lakh in its sixth week to take its six week total to Rs 27.95 crore.

Golmaal Again adds Rs 75 lakh in its sixth week. The film has collected Rs 231.5 crore as it nears the end of its successful run.