For all the commercial success that the Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Pathaan has had, it remains a bit of an interesting story. The star cast did not do any major promotion, be it roadshows or media appearances. Sounds surprising? Yes, it is, but that is how Yash Raj Films (YRF), the producer, has approached this big-ticket project.
YRF has not had it easy after four consecutive flops – Bunty Aur Babli 2, Jayeshbhai Jordaar, Samrat Prithviraj and Shamshera. Taran Adarsh says 2022 was “a terrible year” for the banner and was worsened since all its films had big stars. “They can breathe easy now and plan well for the forthcoming releases,” is his view. The next big one, Tiger 3 is scheduled to hit the theatres during Diwali this year. “From an industry point of view as well, the success of Pathaan will lead to a more positive sentiment and confidence,” thinks Adarsh. The year gone by has been forgettable with a handful of successes to speak of, with the films from the south dubbed in Hindi taking complete charge of the box-office.
Just what worked well for Pathaan? At Rs 240 crore, this is not a small-budget film. Producer and film business expert, Girish Johar, while giving YRF a lot of credit, says the strategy was to get “the stars to go into hiding.” According to him, not only were they low on visibility, fans got nothing beyond the film’s trailer and music that were promoted on digital and television. “It’s an approach that could have easily backfired but it actually led to more curiosity [about] the film. In fact, it whetted the appetite of the average fan,” says Johar.
That apart, it was a throwback to the past where stars always had a scarcity value attached to their persona. “By lying low, YRF has been very smart and also spent its money wisely,” he explains. It is estimated that the total outgo on promotion and advertising was Rs 35-40 crore (some industry trackers believe it might be even lower) compared to nothing less than Rs 70 crore for a film from YRF and with a top star like Khan. Again, the pre-sale of satellite, digital and music for over Rs 200 crore meant only Rs 65-70 crore needed to come from the box-office. At current trends for both the domestic and overseas markets, YRF could easily make a profit upwards of Rs 200 crore. Johar thinks Pathaan will see people coming back to the movie halls than deciding to watch it on OTT. Needless to say, the films in the pipeline across banners will need to deliver on quality.
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