The late Yash Chopra’s 53-year golden run at the Bollywood box office is, without a doubt, one of the biggest success stories to emerge in the history of Indian cinema.
Yet, even as members of his family and the film fraternity mourn Chopra’s sudden demise earlier this week from dengue, perhaps his biggest box office triumph has yet to be written.
Chopra’s final directorial swansong awaits its Diwali release on November 13, with trade pundits predicting a bumper opening for “Jab Tak Hai Jaan”, one that could very well set a benchmark in Bollywood for being the first film to hit the mythical Rs200 crore (Rs2 billion) club.
Box office gold
Chopra’s penchant for records is legendary, much like the man himself.
As the patriarch of Yash Raj Films, one of the biggest film production empires in India, he steered the ship towards fame and fortune, being the only filmmaker to hold the accolade for a record 17-year run in cinemas for his home production, “Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge”.
Under Chopra’s own directorial guidance, the ‘King of Romance’ (as he was fondly called) gave Bollywood fans iconic films over the decades, which include “Deewar”, “Chandni”, “Lamhe” and “Veer Zara” to name but few.
When the he wielded the baton once again after a seven-year sabbatical earlier this year, the industry went into overdrive with just his comeback.
The casting coup of Shah Rukh Khan and Katrina Kaif as the lead pair in “Jab Tak Hai Jaan” only added mettle to a buzz that was snowballing in trade predictions.
This was proven when the film’s trailer alone received 30,000 likes within a week of its release on YouTube, becoming the first ever in the world with the most number of likes in such a short time and beating the same record previously held by Hollywood’s “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2’s” trailer.
Statistics also show that “Jab Tak Hai Jaan’s” trailer also went on to become the most shared Indian movie preview ever.
Meanwhile, Times of India even had a forecast in play with Astro-numerologist Bhavikk Sangghvi predicting that “Jab Tak Hai Jaan” could be the biggest blockbuster of all time.
“His Diwali bonanza for his fans ‘Jab Tak Hai Jaan’ made under his directorial baton will set the box office ablaze and surpass the lifetime collections of all previous blockbuster movies (including some made under his own banner),” Bhavikk said.
Since his sudden death Sunday, celebrities and fans have shared their grief, with award winning director Madhur Bhandarkar being amongst the first to pay to tribute to Chopra’s memory by promising to see the first show of “Jab Tak Hai Jaan” on its release date.
Similarly, Twitter campaigns and YouTube tributes are encouraging loyalists to cherish the late director’s memory by giving this film the biggest ever opening in Indian cinema.
Speaking to Emirates 24|7, Mahi Golchin-Deepala, Managing Partner of Phars Films, the sole distributors of Asian films in the GCC, said:
“We expect records to be set when the film opens across the GCC on November 13. Bollywood cinema has a large following, not only with Asians, but Arabs too. And this is a film by the great Yash Chopra, his last ever.
“Fans will come for repeat screenings just to pay tribute to the man who brought romance to cinema.”
She further added: “The film will release 50 prints across the GCC, one of the largest ever, which is indication enough how popular it will be. Plus, it is also the Diwali weekend, which will give “Jab Tak Hai Jaan” an even further push in the box office earnings.”
Golchin-Deepala also didn’t rule the possibility of increasing screenings of Chopra’s last film if demand exceeded expectations.
“We have to look at all possibilities and restrictions, the biggest being the limited screens we have here. But we are certainly open to the idea of increasing the numbers if people are demanding it,” she added.
Industry cruncher, Boxoffice capsule had predicted “Jab Tak Hai Jaan’s” opening before Chopra’s death, tallying the 10-day box office earnings at Rs141 crores, with Lifetime Overseas and Domestic Business totalling a whopping Rs269 crores.
An insider added: “The 10-day tally was initially estimated around Rs150 crore, simply based on the Yash Chopra strength, combined with Shah Rukh and Katrina’s pairing.
“But what will follow now is a sympathy wave that will usher people into cinema halls, especially since the film will release in less than a month to Yashji’s death.
“This one will make history.”