Salman Khan in a still from the Kabir Khan directorial Image: Twitter
Tubelight was, perhaps, one of the biggest releases of the year with a lot riding on it. It was a comeback film of the hit actor-director jodi Salman Khan and Kabir Khan, and it was to get Salman's trademark Eid release which, legends say, is the best time for Bhaijaan's films. However, the result was rather underwhelming with the film somehow managing to crawl to the Rs 100-crore mark, and harsh criticism coming in from all quarters. Not that Bhaijaan is one to take critics seriously, but the losses incurred were so large that both Salman and his father Salim Khan unanimously decided to return the distributors' money and share their losses. Perhaps, the first time in Salman's career history. While a number of things are being cited as reasons for this debacle of a movie, none really holds water. We got two film analysts to break the film down and analyse the outcome. Here's what their verdict is:
Lack of a strong female actor
Most of Salman's films have a strong female actor — Kareena Kapoor Khan in Bajrangi Bhaijaan, Anushka Sharma in Sultan, Sonam Kapoor in Prem Ratan Dhan Payo, and so on. Not that the actors are anything more than props but their individual fanbase does give the film a boost. According to film trade analyst Atul Mohan, Tubelight lacked exactly that, for even as Chinese actor Zhu Zhu is a popular name overseas, in India she was as good as a debutant. "There was even lack of a distinct romantic angle, something we're not used to seeing in a Salman Khan film," says Atul. And the fate of the film was similar to other films where Salman tried to launch a new face — Zarine Khan in Veer, Daisy Shah in Jai Ho and Sneha Ullal in Lucky.
Tubelight was more about Sohail Khan
Salman clearly had an agenda to re-launch Sohail with this one, and that meant taking away from his own charismatic presence on screen that his fans connect with the most. "It was not a true larger-than-life Salman Khan commercial potboiler in that sense," says Girish Johar, a film business analyst. "And, perhaps, his loyal fans even felt cheated," adds Girish, who feels even the promotions around the film were kind of misleading, which is why Salman's fans were disappointed at the theatres. So they didn't really go back to the theatre as is the case with his films usually.
Lack of good music
When it comes to a Salman Khan film, we always associate good peppy music with it. But Atul feels Tubelight lacked that zing too. "The music was not at all peppy and danceable. It was quaint and frankly not even that great. Considering music is such an important prerogative in Indian cinema, we've often seen how the songs exceed the film's popularity. However, Tubelight's music did nothing to boost the film," says Atul.
It wasn't meant for an Eid release
Eid is Salman's arena, and he seldom goes wrong with that. But according to Girish, the storyline was not fit for an Eid release. "The film was too serious an emotional saga for a happy occasion like Eid. People just want to be entertained, laugh, dance along with their Bhaijaan on Eid like they did in Dabangg and EK Tha Tiger. Perhaps, Tubelight would have done better had it released at any other time of the year. Eid called for a more massy film," adds Girish.
Kabir Khan took his conviction too far
When Bajrangi Bhaijaan, which saw Salman in an offbeat role, succeeded, Kabir's conviction, perhaps, went several notches higher as to what he can pull off with Salman. "But clearly, even Salman wasn't in tune with that for we kept hearing of tiffs between the actor and director from the sets. Now considering they have two major hits behind them, it was obvious for Salman to trust Kabir's conviction, but, perhaps, Kabir failed to realise that Salman has an image, and only that image appeals to his fans," Atul says. And the result was not only reports of a terrible fallout between the two but a box office debacle that Salman and his production house Salman Khan Films will take a long time to recover from.