The 76-year-old great grandfather of Bollywood hits is now spending his days on the sets of Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, the new release starring Shah Rukh Khan, which Pa Chopra is hoping will turn the ship around.
It’s been a decade since Chopra surrendered his empire into the hands of his able son Aditya Chopra. Adi went aggressively into marketing and innovative story ideas but the last year did not turn out well. “YRF has been the king of the industry. They caught the pulse of the middle class. Their other weapon was their marketing but they went wrong with Tashan… a good film with bad positioning.”
Out of five big ticket movies released under the Yash Raj banner — Ta Ra Rum Pum, Jhoom Barabar Jhoom, Chak De! India, Laaga Chunari Mein Daag and Aaja Nachle — only one did well. Three flopped and one was average. Their latest movie, Tashan — despite showing off a sexy Kareena Kapoor alongside boyfriend Saif Ali Khan — is a flop.
Made at Rs 40 crore, Tashan brought in only 50 per cent in its first week. (A hit should bring in over 75 per cent.) Last year, Jhoom… opened with a 50 per cent collection; Aaja Nachle only collected Rs 16 crore of its Rs 40 crores and Laaga… did 40 per cent.
Tashan’s bad showing is believed to be the final straw that forced Chopra onto the set in the hopes that the magic he brought to Chandni, Dil To Pagal Hai and Veer Zaara would rub off. He is now giving creative, managerial and corrective inputs to son Adi’s directorial comeback.
“Yashji arrives every day before the shooting begins and stays till late discussing the scenes and shots with Shah Rukh and Adi,” says a source on the sets in Mumbai. Shailendra Singh, MD of Percept Media Ltd, said YRF’s slump created space for other players.
“YRF has been the king of the industry. They caught the pulse of the middle class. Their other weapon was their marketing but they went wrong with Tashan… a good film with bad positioning.”
Pa Chopra’s concerns have been sparked by news that exhibitors are thinking twice before betting on a Yash Raj Film. Trade expert, Sanjay Mehta of Bobby Arts, said, “In the industry a filmmaker is known by his last release. In the case of Yash Raj, the exhibitors have been a little lenient.
However, Tashan proved the final nail in the coffin. Now, of course, Yash Raj need to stand up and prove their mettle to bounce back.”
YRF insiders reveal that films scheduled for release, including Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic and Bachna Ae Haseeno, are being run several times in the editing room. And extra care is being taken with the animated Walt Disney co-production Roadside Romeo.