_Guest Post is written by Bobby Sidhu. _
You can follow him on Twitter (https://twitter.com/BobbyS_BO) at https://twitter.com/BobbyS_BO
It is no secret that Shah Rukh Khan, one of the biggest movie stars in the world (if not the biggest!) has been struggling at the box office this decade in the domestic market. From 2010 onwards, only one film of his was a Blockbuster: _Chennai Express_. Other films have underperformed (_Ra One, Dilwale, Raees,_ etc) while other films were declared outright flops (_Fan_ and _JHMS_).
Shortly after _Dilwale_ performed so poorly at the box office, I wrote an article mentioning how Shah Rukh Khan’s run as a box office superstar was coming to an end and how he should now focus on Shah Rukh Khan – the actor. His next release after that, _Fan_, bombed at the box office as well. Things got even worse, when his last release, _Jab Harry Met Sejal_, finished with a disastrous lifetime collection of approx. 60 crore nett.
But, fate works in its own strange ways!
There has been a lot of positivity attached to _Zero_ ever since it was announced that director Aanand L Rai, who has directed some hugely appreciated films such as _Raanjhanaa, Tanu Weds Manu, and Tanu Weds Manu Returns_ will be directing a film starring Shah Rukh Khan. Besides the fact that this is a powerful director/actor combination on paper, they are also similar in the fact that both are known for their portrayal of love stories in their films, one as an actor and one as a director. The anticipation got even higher once everyone got to know that SRK would be playing a dwarf in the film! Of course, the icing on the cake then was the announcement of the two female leads: Katrina Kaif and Anushka Sharma.
When the teaser of _Zero_ was releasing on the first day of this year, many people were skeptical. “Is SRK going to overhype his film once again only for the film to underperform?” “Is he once again just relying on VFX?” Truthfully, I was also a little worried once SRK attached a teaser of the film to Salman’s _Race 3_ on Eid, a song where SRK and Salman were both together. I also wondered if SRK was relying on Salman to sell his film, and things got worse once Salman’s own film _Race 3_ performed poorly at the box office.
One interview I watched of Aanand L Rai changed my opinion! In the interview, he said that he believes that _Zero_ has turned out to be a very good film. He also assured that he focused on the story of the film, not just VFX. Also, it is important to mention that Aanand Rai and SRK have been showing immense confidence in their product. As a matter of fact, SRK has mentioned that he has already discussed the idea of doing another film with Aanand Rai! The last time I recall such confidence from a team, particularly from a director, was from Kabir Khan in 2015. This interview was conducted on Komal Nahta’s show before the release of _Bajrangi Bhaijaan_, and he mentioned something along the lines of how he can’t wait to show the film to everyone!
In the beginning of November, the theatrical trailer of _Zero_ released, which met with a terrific response from the audience. SRK as a dwarf, his equation with a handicapped Anushka Sharma, Katrina Kaif’s entry….everything was met with a tremendous response. The song, _Mera Naam Tu_, became a chartbuster. The SRK/Salman song may not be a chartbuster, but will rock the single screens.
So, what’s my prediction? It’s this: box office performance will be the exact opposite of it’s name. This one is a BLOCKBUSTER and will emerge the highest grosser of 2018!
Comparisons will be made to Kamal Hassan as a dwarf from his film Appu Raja. However, there is still a novelty factor attached to SRK as a dwarf, particularly because no star in recent times has played a dwarf. Also, SRK’s character of Bauua Singh is a character that the audience will find extremely entertaining, especially with his dialogues. Films where SRK plays an over-the-top character filled with comedy are loved by the masses, as we saw with _Chennai Express_ and _Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi_ (Raj character), as both films became Blockbusters!
Anushka Sharma, portraying a handicapped character, is sure to win a ton of accolades! This role is a complete departure from what she has done before, and given her potential with talent, it seems certain that she would have pulled it off the way director Aanand Rai would have wanted her to!
Katrina Kaif! What can be said that hasn’t already been said about her? Her arrival in the trailer changes the entire atmosphere of the trailer in a positive way, which I had also mentioned about _Thugs of Hindostan_ which was a dead trailer until she appeared. She looks gorgeous, and her _Husn Parcham_ song will contribute enormously to repeat viewings of the film from the audience. There are seem to be some hidden, dark elements about her character which haven’t been revealed, but we saw a glimpse of it in one of the early posters. Katrina seems to have put in her best effort in this film, and I feel she will actually be the show-stealer of the film, and that this will turn out to be one of her career best performances!
Finally, a word on director Aanand Rai. The genius of the director is how well he is able to merge material for the class audience and the mass audience. If SRK/Anushka’s story with Anushka as a handicapped character will appeal to the class audience, then SRK/Katrina’s story where Katrina plays the glamorous, huge film star will appeal to the mass audience. If _Mera Naam Tu_ is a slow romantic song that would be mostly appreciated by the class audience, then _Issaqbaazi_ with SRK/Salman will rock the single screens. Of course, there seem to be some hidden elements in the film that we will have to watch the film to see.
Note: _Baahubali 2_ has not been included in this analysis, as I am only comparing Hindi films.
Opening Day analysis: There are three films I kept in mind while predicting, all three of which also released on a non-holiday during Christmas period: 2013’s _Dhoom 3_ (32 crore nett), 2016’s _Dangal_ (29 crore nett), and 2017’s _Tiger Zinda Hai_ (34 crore nett). If we compare Zero with the lower of the three, _Dangal_, then Zero is sure to be the higher opener: _Zero_ has many crowd-pulling elements in its favor, looking like an entertainer with SRK/Katrina/Anushka, curiosity of SRK as a dwarf, director Aanand Rai, and chartbuster music, whereas _Dangal’s_ music wasn’t of the chartbuster variety and the film mainly just relied on Aamir Khan to bring the audience to theatres. However, comparing Zero to Tiger Zinda Hai, then it must be mentioned that _Tiger Zinda Hai_ was presented like a big YRF action extravaganza of Salman/Katrina and was the sequel to Blockbuster _Ek Tha Tiger_ to generate that pre-release hype. Zero doesn’t have that sequel advantage, and so its opening day will be lower than _Tiger Zinda Hai_. One may also use _Sanju_ as a comparison, which released this year also did 34 crore nett, but _Sanju_ also had a brand value attached to it when one reads “_Sanju_ - directed by Rajkumar Hirani” as one immediately recalls their popular _Munna Bhai_ franchise and the fact that the nation wanted to see a biopic on Sanjay Dutt. Again, _Zero_ doesn’t have these factors in its favor. Lastly, _Dhoom 3_. This film still proves to be huge competition for most films even five years after its release, with even _Tiger Zinda Hai_ last year (another big YRF action extravaganza sequel) beating the non-holiday record of Dhoom 3 by a mere 2 crore nett! Clearly, the level of buzz and anticipation for Dhoom 3 was on a different level altogether like an earthquake, and even Zero won’t be able to match its opening.
To sum it up, I feel that the opening day collection of _Zero_ will be somewhere in between of _Dangal_ (29 crore nett) and _Dhoom 3_ (32 crore nett).
Opening Weekend analysis:_ Zero_ will show huge growth over the weekend owing to the positive public WOM (Word of Mouth). The Sunday collections will be approximately 48 crore nett, which is higher than _Sanju_ (46 crore nett) and _Tiger Zinda Hai_ (45 crore nett). Also, positive WOM for films tend to be at its peak in the opening weekend when it’s the hardcore fans coming and spreading that positive WOM which results in a fantastic weekend trend, and then over the weeks the trend lessens as the huge positivity of the WOM becomes a bit lower as more neutrals watch the film.
Lifetime Collection Analysis: Now, here’s the big one!I am certain that Zero will cross the 300 crore mark, but to measure exactly where it will finish, I decided to look at previous films released on Christmas that also crossed this mark: _PK,_ _Dangal,_ and _Tiger Zinda Hai._ _Tiger Zinda Hai_ last year crossed _PK’s_ collections despite the WOM not being as strong as that of PK. _Zero_ will have better WOM than _Tiger Zinda Hai_, so I’m sure that _Zero_ will beat both of those films!
The big comparison then is of _Zero_ and _Dangal_, the latter which currently holds the record of being the highest grossing Hindi film of all time. Comparing public WOM, I feel that the WOM of _Zero_ will be less than that of _Dangal_. Zero will be well appreciated, but it also does have some gimmicks attached to it (the Salman song, SRK doing his signature pose, etc) that may restrict its appreciation to SRK fans and some others, whereas Dangal was a film that anyone in any nook or corner of India would have appreciated. Also, Dangal had a clean release with no competition, whereas Rohit Shetty’s _Simmba_ releases next week and will take some screens. Overall, I feel that _Dangal_ will still hold the record as the highest grosser, and Zero will become the second highest grosser!
My Box Office Predictions for Zero:
Opening Day: 30.5 crore nett
Opening Three-Day Weekend: 115 crore nett
Lifetime Collections: 356 crore nett
Overall Verdict: Blockbuster
As I mentioned, I had written an article after Dilwale about Shah Rukh Khan’s run as a box office superstar coming to an end….I’m glad to be proven wrong! Here are some other interesting stats:
-Once _Zero_ becomes the highest grosser of the year, it will be SRK’s first time in 8 years that he would have achieved this feat: the last time was _Om Shanti Om_, which released in 2007. Co-incidentally, that film released against Ranbir Kapoor’s film _Saawariya_, and now in the competition for HGOTY 2018, SRK is once again defeating Ranbir Kapoor, as _Sanju_ had the HGOTY spot till now!
-SRK will achieve a HUGE feat this year: his film will be a bigger hit/grosser than a film of Salman Khan (_Race 3_), and a film of Aamir Khan/Amitabh Bachchan (_Thugs of Hindostan_). As a matter of fact, the last time SRK had a film that was a bigger hit/grosser than a Salman and Aamir film released in the same year was back in 2001, when _Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham_ was bigger than Aamir’s films _Lagaan_ and _Dil Chahta Hai_ and Salman’s _Chori Chori Chupke Chupke_!
-SRK seems to be delivering a Blockbuster every 5 years: His last two were _Chennai Express_, released 5 years ago in 2013, and _RNBDJ_, released 5 years before that in 2008.
Overall, it’s time to celebrate for all SRK fans!