Bell Bottom may have been expected to score at the turnstiles as it was the first big-budget film starring an A-list actor to release in cinemas in almost 17 months and also the first theatrical release after the second Coronavirus wave lockdown was lifted in different states in July/August this year, but it failed to live up to expectations. The eight-day week did not really add up to much! No doubt, cinemas in most states are allowed to function at only 50% capacity, but even those 50% seats were not full in majority of the cinemas and in majority of the shows. The film opened on 19th August (Thursday) in 2D and 3D all over except in Maharashtra and a couple of other small circuits like Assam and Tamil Nadu-Kerala. Shockingly, collections of the 2D version were better than those of the 3D version at many places. On second thoughts, that shouldn’t come as a shock because the 3D effects in the film, starring Akshay Kumar, were far from good. The first day’s net collection figure was just Rs. 2.75 crore. Collections on Friday were no better as the second day also ended at Rs. 2.75 crore. Quite obviously, the Moharram holiday on Thursday/Friday did not help the film much. Collections on Saturday showed only a marginal improvement as the day closed at Rs. 3 crore. The Raksha Bandhan festivities gave a boost to collections on Sunday, because of which the fourth day closed at Rs. 4.50 crore. In cinemas where collections on the first three days were very poor (only 5-7% of the capacity), the collections on Sunday were more than the total collections of the first three days. In this way, the film netted only Rs. 13 crore in the first 4-day weekend. Collections on Monday were alright in Uttar Pradesh (due to the holiday declared in the state following the demise of erstwhile chief minister Kalyan Singh on Saturday) and a couple of other circuits (due to the advantage of post-Raksha Bandhan festive spirit). But collections in other circuits showed a drop in comparison with the collections of Thursday/Friday/Saturday. Monday closed at Rs. 2 crore only. Collections for the balance weekdays were: Tuesday – Rs. 1.75 crore, Wednesday – Rs. 1.50 crore, Thursday – Rs. 1.25 crore. The total for the four weekdays was, therefore, Rs. 6.50 crore. In this way, the film netted only Rs. 19.50 crore in the first 8-day week. Even if one assumes that the film will have a run of several weeks at the cinemas because of very limited number of new releases in the coming weeks, it is not expected to net more than Rs. 30 crore in its entire run. Probably, the film may not even touch that figure! Of course, the silver lining is that producers Vashu Bhagnani and Nikhil Advani took the bold step of releasing the film in cinemas in spite of 50% occupancy, night curfews, closure of cinemas in some states, and reluctance of many among the public to come to the cinemas for fear of getting infected by the virus, and their step needs to be lauded. However, it must be added that while the producers promoted the film extensively, they did not stress on the fact that it was coming in cinemas. With the public being used to consuming films on OTT platforms during the two lockdowns and also when the lockdown was lifted for a little over five months in between, many people did not even know that Bell Bottom was coming on the big screen. They assumed that it was to release on 19th August on one or the other streaming platform and, therefore, did not go to the cinemas. Why, there were and there still are countless people who didn’t/don’t know that cinemas in their state/city had/have reopened. The all-India distributors, PEN-Marudhar Cine Entertainment Pvt. Ltd., also erred in not issuing prominent ads in newspapers to announce that the film was hitting cinema screens. The film underperformed in the Overseas circuit too with a gross of only Rs. 8.8 crore in the first 8-day week.

Puaada (Punjabi) did very well in the second week too. It had opened in limited cinemas (which had reopened) on 12th August (Thursday) to a rousing reception, collecting Rs. 50 lakh on the (odd) opening day. The first four-day weekend had closed at Rs. 2.45 crore while the eight-day first week closed at Rs. 3.83 crore. The second week was also very good. The second weekend closed at Rs. 1.05 crore. The net collection total for the four weekdays of the second week was Rs. 0.78 crore. In this way, the second week’s total was Rs. 1.83 crore. Grand total for 2 weeks: Rs. 5.66 crore. The comedy has performed excellently Overseas too. It has grossed Rs. 8.8 crore in 15 days abroad.