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Dhadak trade view: Janhvi Kapoor's maiden film tipped to have good opening weekend

Experts believe the backing of Dharma Productions and the introduction of new talent are factors that could drive the film’s business. Dhadak hits the screens on 20 July.

Mayur Lookhar

There is always curiosity when young talent makes its debut. While actor Shahid Kapoor’s half-brother Ishaan Khatter made his film debut with Iranian director Majid Majidi's Beyond The Clouds (2018), Shashank Khaitan's Dhadak introduces him in mainstream Hindi cinema. At the same time, the late actress Sridevi and producer Boney Kapoor's daughter, Janhvi, is set to make her debut with the Dharma Productions film.

Dhadak is the official remake of Nagraj Popatrao Manjule's Marathi blockbuster Sairat (2016) and is set to hit the screens tomorrow, 20 July. Naturally, there is a great deal of interest in the film.

"The buzz around Dhadak is very positive," said trade analyst Atul Mohan. "The first-day expectation is around Rs8-10 crore nett. If that happens, we could be looking at Dhadak bagging Rs30 crore plus in the opening weekend.”

Film exhibitor Akshaye Rathi, too, is quite optimistic about Dhadak’s performance at the box office and listed the factors in favour of the film.

“I think the buzz is pretty nice," he said. "There are multiple factors that work in a film's favour. One is that an A-lister [Dharma Productions] is backing the film. Second, it is directed by a filmmaker who has given back-to-back hits in Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania (2014) and Badrinath Ki Dulhania (2017). Third factor is that the film launches two fresh talents."

He added that the Romeo-Juliet-based story of the film will work. “Ishaan did Beyond The Clouds, but that was a niche film," Rathi said. "In many ways, Dhadak is like Ishaan Khatter's debut [also]. The trailer and the film's music have got good response. To add to that, the Romeo and Juliet story has been told over 385 times in Hindi cinema — Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1988), Ishaqzaade (2012), Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ram-leela (2013). It is a story that always seems to appeal to the audience. I see the film taking an opening of anything upwards of Rs6.5 crore nett. It could make Rs23 crore-plus in the first week."

While Mohan thinks the film will be released on 1,800-2,000 screens in India, Rathi expects the number to be lower at 1,500 screens.

Sairat (2016), the original film, holds the record for the biggest opening in Marathi cinema. It was made at a cost of Rs4 crore and bagged Rs110 crore nett at the box office, a great feat for a Marathi-language film. Interestingly, the film was released on just a little more than 500 screens.

According to Rathi, the landing cost, or estimated budget, of Dhadak should not be more than Rs30 crore. It is distributed by Zee Studio, which also holds the satellite, digital and music rights.

The big question facing Dhadak is from those who have already seen Sairat: what new will Dhadak offer?

Khaitan has shifted the setting from rural Maharashtra to Rajasthan's Udaipur, but will that be enough to pull in the audiences?

Both Mohan and Rathi feel the fact that the film is a remake won't be a concern. “All over India, not many people have seen Sairat," Mohan said. "It had limited release in the rest of India. And Dharma usually doesn't do remakes. They remade Agneepath (1990) in 2012, but they improvised the script to suit the current audience. I believe the same has been done here keeping the Hindi audience in mind.”

Rathi believes Dhadak will have the advantage of a nationwide release which Sairat didn't have. “A lot of people like to compare with the original," he agreed. "But outside Maharashtra not many people have seen the original. It's the same story, but this time it is reaching out to a huge market.”

One also needs to take into account how films produced by Dharma Productions have fared so far. The company distributed the Hindi dubbed version of Baahubali: The Conclusion (2017), which made Rs510 crore nett. Dharma's in-house releases — Raazi (2018), Badrinath Ki Dulhania (2017), and Ae Dil Hai Mushkil (2016) — all made over Rs100 crore nett in domestic business.

While it may sound cynical to say this, Sridevi's sudden death earlier this year may also work in the film's favour. The actress accidentally drowned in a bathtub in her hotel room in Dubai in February. Her daughter showed commendable professionalism and returned to the sets within nine days of the loss. A section of the audience will certainly walk into the theatres for emotional reasons.

Sridevi helped Janhvi with her characterization in Dhadak: Actor Shridhar Watsar

Sridevi was very close to her daughters and is said to have helped Janhvi Kapoor with her characterization for Dhadak. “Sridevi's fans would have wished for her to see her daughter's maiden film," said Mohan. "So there will be an emotional attachment with the film. Nargis Dutt had passed away days before Sanjay's Dutt's debut film Rocky (1981) [was released]. That empathy factor helped that film, and Rocky turned out to be a huge hit.”

Rathi seconded Mohan on this. “Sridevi was someone who made millions of fans. Her daughter is now coming up, so that [sympathy factor] will play a part,” he said.

In 2012, director Yash Chopra passed away a few months before his film Jab Tak Hai Jaan (2012) hit the screens. The film faced competition from Ajay Devgn’s Son Of Sardaar but still collected Rs101.59 crore nett in domestic business.

Janhvi's half-brother Arjun Kapoor, too, had lost his mother a few months before his first film, Ishaqzaade, was released. The film turned out to be a hit, making Rs46 crore nett in domestic business. Ishaqzaade was made at a budget of Rs19 crore. While professional success can never compensate for personal loss, father Boney Kapoor will certainly wish his daughter the same success as his son.