FLASHBACK | 16 June, 2023
(From our issue dated 20th June, 1998)


Vishesh Films Pvt. Ltd.’s Ghulam (A) is the story of a small-time thief whom circumstances force to become the messiah of the basti in which he lives. This basti is almost ruled by a local dada whom the small-time thief challenges and finally has the entire basti, hitherto petrified of him, revolting against him and his atrocities. Aamir Khan plays the thief-turned-messiah who is brought up by his elder brother.

The first half moves at a good pace and has interesting and enjoyable moments. The romantic track of Aamir Khan and girlfriend Ranee Mukerji may not be novel or fresh but all the same, it does appeal to the viewer, if only for the sincerity and spontaneity of Aamir Khan. The film switches tracks after interval and becomes grim and serious. Trying to establish Aamir Khan as a toughie does not quite jell with his lover-boy image. What’s more, Aamir is shown succeeding over a rough-and-tough villain like Sharat Saxena — something which won’t be digested by the audience even though pains have been taken to make it seem plausible.

The story, especially the post-interval portion, reminds of films like Parinda, Ghatak and Boxer. Still, Anjum Rajabali’s effort in writing is quite good; the film at least moves logically and does not appear patchy. However, once the tense drama begins, the romantic portion seems to have been forgotten. The scenes between Aamir and his brother, in the second half, have more of class appeal.  Moreover, the issue tackled in the film is on too small a level (a basti), thereby robbing the film of grandeur. Dialogues definitely needed to be better and much more hard-hitting. Climax is dull and the audience expects the film to wind up in the courtroom but it gets over in the basti. The climax fight is too lengthy.

Aamir Khan does a splendid job, getting into the skin of the character and taking care of the smallest of nuances. Although his physique and chocolate looks let him down as a toughie, his performance is fabulous. Ranee Mukerji has very limited scope and is alright. She does not look too glamorous. Sharat Saxena, as the main villain, is weak. He shouts more than acts. Rajit Kapoor, as Aamir’s brother, plays the villain’s sidekick ably. Meeta Vashishta impresses a great deal with her acting but she does not get much scope. Deepak Tijori is quite nice. Akshay Anand is convincing. Dalip Tahhil (in a guest appearance) and Ashutosh Rana are effective. Bobby Saini, Raju Kher, Madhu Malhotra, Javed Rizvi and the rest lend fair support.

Vikram Bhatt’s direction is good at times but not always so. He has handled the first half with maturity but the second half is loose and too dry. Jatin Lalit’s contribution is the best after Aamir Khan’s. The ‘Aati kya Khandala’ song is a hit. ‘Aankhon se tune ye kya keh diya’ and ‘Jaadu hai’ are also melodious numbers. Picturisation of the ‘Khandala’ song is lovely. Dharma Teja’s camerawork is reasonably good. Action scenes (Abbas Hanif) are fair. Editing is a bit loose. Production values are okay.

On the whole, Ghulam has a hit song, an entertaining first half and an endearing Aamir Khan to more than offset the boredom that creeps in in the tense second half. Considering its lovely opening almost all over, it should keep its distributors quite pleased. Business in Bombay, Maharashtra and South should be better.

Released on 19-6-’98 at Novelty and 20 other cinemas of Bombay thru Veekay Enterprises. Publicity: very good. Opening: excellent. …….Also released all over. Opening was very good everywhere except in East Punjab and C.I., where it was fair.


The fantastic opening of GHULAM has brought happy tidings in the industry.

Gharwali Baharwali is good in East Punjab  and C.P. Berar and fair in C.I. and Nizam, but started dropping from 4th/5th day onwards elsewhere. Is poor in Gujarat and Bengal. 1st week Bombay 34,00,800 (79.71%) from 9 cinemas (8 on F.H.); Ahmedabad 3,23,244 from 2 cinemas (3 unrecd.), Rajkot 1,55,280; Pune 7,88,325 (86.99%) from 4 cinemas (1 in matinee), Solapur 1,99,216 from 2 cinemas (1 in matinee, 1 unrecd.); Delhi 32,74,245 (71.11%) from 10 cinemas (1 on F.H.); Kanpur 3,08,417 from 2 cinemas, Lucknow 3,90,324, good, Agra 1,84,253, Allahabad 1,38,000, Varanasi 1,47,770, Meerut 1,51,000, Bareilly 99,875 (44.71%), Dehradun 1,30,000, Hardwar 70,000; Rohtak 28,109; Calcutta 12,73,538 from 15 cinemas; Nagpur 4,40,216 from 4 cinemas, Jabalpur 1,65,143, Amravati 1,77,528, Akola 1,68,770 (98%), Raipur 1,92,405 (79.45%), Durg 1,10,697, Yavatmal 1,19,682; Indore 1,46,987 (3 on F.H.), Bhopal 3,72,966 from 3 cinemas; Jaipur 6,64,480 from 4 cinemas, Jodhpur 2,55,000, Ajmer (29 shows) 1,31,400, Bikaner 2,38,600; Hyderabad 15,75,018 from 7 cinemas.

Achanak has not found appreciation. 1st week Bombay 31,57,587 (61.61%) from 12 cinemas (8 on F.H.); Ahmedabad 1,30,176 (3 unrecd.), Rajkot 1,53,942 from 2 cinemas (1 in matinee); Pune 8,78,882 from 5 cinemas, Solapur 1,91,850 (78.14%); Hubli (noon) 44,552; Delhi 16,80,320 (53.61%) from 9 cinemas (1 on F.H.); Kanpur 2,45,203 from 2 cinemas, Lucknow 2,65,173, Allahabad 89,000, Varanasi 1,27,470, Meerut 1,57,048, Bareilly 88,034 (40.75%), Dehradun 96,000; Calcutta 9,92,751 from 10 cinemas; Nagpur 4,13,204 from 4 cinemas, Jabalpur 54,069, Amravati 1,19,756, Raipur 1,10,051 (43.27%); Indore 2,38,000 from 2 cinemas (2 on F.H.), Bhopal 2,10,433 from 2 cinemas; Jaipur 3,38,516 from 2 cinemas; Hyderabad 14,48,909 from 8 cinemas (1 in noon).

Humse Badhkar Kaun has been rejected. 1st week Bombay 19,53,988 (42.42%) from 15 cinemas (5 on F.H.); Ahmedabad 85,090 (3 unrecd.), Baroda 96,935, Rajkot 52,854 (1 in regular & 1 in matinee unrecd.); Pune 3,67,265 from 4 cinemas; Delhi 15,88,055 (41.31%) from 9 cinemas (1 on F.H.); Kanpur 2,21,796 from 2 cinemas, Lucknow 1,05,344, Agra 1,10,315, Allahabad 95,000, Varanasi 1,04,886, Bareilly 38,731 (19.49%); Calcutta 5,43,634 from 7 cinemas; Jabalpur 66,748, Amravati 88,469, Wardha 57,194, Yavatmal 81,766, Bilaspur 54,022; Jaipur 1,74,720 from 2 cinemas.

Dushman 3rd week Bombay (TF) 11,44,458 (60.10%) from 5 cinemas (4 on F.H.); Baroda 48,760, Rajkot 47,272; Pune (TF) 4,15,923 from 5 cinemas (1 in matinee); Delhi (TF) 2,85,396; Kanpur 60,521, Lucknow 71,838, Varanasi 57,128, Dehradun 40,000 (2nd 79,000); Calcutta 1,20,661; Nagpur (TF) 59,376 from 2 cinemas, 2nd week Jabalpur 1,14,706, total 2,95,048, Amravati (TF) 79,752, 3rd week Akola (TF) 52,069, total 1,58,537, Raipur 52,424, 1st week Bilaspur 61,140; 3rd week Indore 30,000, Bhopal 54,732; Jaipur 91,730; Hyderabad 2,36,403.

Jab Pyaar Kisise Hota Hai is very steady in Delhi, C.I., Rajasthan and Nizam. 4th week Bombay 14,73,278 (69.42%) from 5 cinemas (5 on F.H.); Ahmedabad 1,20,270 from 3 cinemas, Jamnagar (15 shows) 44,405; Pune 3,52,301 from 3 cinemas (1 in matinee), Solapur 63,828; Delhi 20,29,440 from 6 cinemas; Kanpur 1,03,912, Lucknow 1,16,483, Agra 99,500, Allahabad 46,800, 3rd week Varanasi 96,021, 4th week Bareilly (6 days) 55,115 (28.57%), Dehradun 1,07,786 (3rd 1,46,000); Calcutta 4,42,247 from 4 cinemas (1 in noon); Nagpur 1,56,566, Jabalpur (6 days) 1,09,026, Akola 55,176, total 3,17,120, 3rd week Raipur 73,746, 4th week Jalgaon (6 days) 46,432, Chandrapur 97,393, total 4,96,226, 2nd week Yavatmal 31,225, 3rd week Bilaspur 78,003; 4th week Bhopal 1,72,495; Jaipur 2,63,321, better than 3rd week, 3rd Bikaner (6 days) 76,545; 4th week Hyderabad 4,89,997 from 3 cinemas (2 in noon).


The distributors of Mysore circuit have been feeling the pinch of an unreasonable hike in show tax for the past few months. It may be recalled that the state government increased the show tax from Rs. 80 to a steep Rs. 300 with effect from 1st April, 1998. The 15% surcharge on the tax remains. As a result, the distributor has had to pay a tax of Rs. 345 per show against Rs. 92 previously.

Given that a hit film runs for at least 400 shows in Mysore circuit, the show tax alone adds up to a whopping Rs. 1,38,000 — a very high figure, especially keeping the small size of the territory in mind.


Saraswati Chitra Mandir in Kolhapur is now rechristened Saraswati Deluxe. After its purchase by Vijendra Shenoy (of Milap cinema, Bombay) and others, it has been fully renovated and equipped with Dolby SR sound. It is the first air-conditioned cinema of Kolhapur. With admission rates of Rs. 15, 20 and 25, it has a nett weekly capacity of Rs. 1,98,000. Its weekly hire is Rs. 50,000.


At what ratio has this week’s release, Ghulam, been delivered to its distributors?

– At the ratio of between 1.10 and 1.35 crore.

What is better — a bumper opening or pick-up by word of mouth?

– A bumper opening is definitely better because there’s nothing like initial business. Pick-up is generally never 100%.

To what do you attribute the lovely opening of Ghulam?

– To the Aati kya Khandala song and Aamir Khan.

‘Major Saab’ Cleared For June 26 Release

ABCL’s Major Saab, after four days of tension in Delhi, was finally cleared by the chief of army staff on 18th June. Objections to several scenes in the film had raised serious doubts about whether the film would be released on 26th June, as scheduled. The uncertain situation had sent exhibitors all over India panicking about their release schedules. Distributors of Major Saab in different circuits had a tough time convincing exhibitors that the film would get the army clearance and would, therefore, be released on schedule. Suspecting exhibitors held back their MGs/advances, putting distributors to further trouble.

But with the clearance having been obtained, all that is past now. Major Saab is set for release on June 25/26 all over. The defence ministry officials and the top brass of the three defence services saw the film at a preview in Delhi early this week. They reportedly objected to the wrongful and distorted portrayal of discipline in the armed forces, especially in the National Defence Academy (NDA), Khadakvasla. Amitabh also met army chief Ved Prakash Malik on 15th June.

According to a press release of ABCL, the no-objection certificate of the ministry of defence and the army was presented to the CBFC which gave the film a ‘UA’ certificate dated 19-6-’98. All recommended changes and cuts have been duly executed and presented. The release adds: Major Saab is a commercial film and, like all commercial cinema in India, is in the realm of fiction and make-believe. The events and episodes depicted in the film Major Saab are also fictitious and make-believe. The film needs to be looked at in this context. Even though the story is set partially at the National Defence Academy in Khadakvasla, the incidents that are shown in the film do not factually happen at this institution. Certain sequences may appear to be violative of the ethos and tradition of the National Defence Academy, but we mean no disrespect either to the institution or any units or regiments of the Army and the Army personnel. We respect the sanctity and integrity of this premier institution of the country. We take great pride in the discipline, the sense of responsibility, the patriotism that is inculcated by the Academy in the future officers of the Armed Forces, whom we hold in high esteem.


* Ramgopal Varma is contemplating dubbing his SATYA in English. He has already approached UTV which is likely to handle the dubbing, if finalised, on his behalf.

* In Goldie Behl’s ANGAARAY, Gulshan Grover plays an underworld don. Whenever Gulshan appears on the screen, a continuous humming sound intersperses the dialogue. The hum could have been produced through a musical synthesiser or by a dubbing/mimicry artiste. But director Mahesh Bhatt hummed and hawed at the idea as he wanted the hums exactly the way he had mentally conceived them to be. The fastidious Mahesh Bhatt finally himself hummed it out with all his lung power.

* GHULAM has created a city record by collecting 51,403/- on the opening day at Chitra, Amravati.

* TITANIC has yielded a share of over 7.25 lakh in 5 weeks from Premprakash, Jaipur.

* NADIYA KE PAAR has yielded a share of 91,000/- in the 1st week of its 4th run at Payal in Jamshedpur (Tatanagar area). The second week’s share is expected to be 30,000/-. The film will then be shifted to Shyam cinema at Haldwani (another suburb of Tatanagar).

What’s The Scene?

In finalising the price of Major Saab, Amitabh Bachchan Corporation Ltd. has considered the losses its distributors made in its earlier films, Mrityudaata and Saat Rang Ke Sapne. As a result, the price of Major Saab is a reasonable 1.25 crore to 1.50 crore. Good for the distributors.

Sunil Shetty needs to do some serious thinking about the projects he signs. His Humse Badhkar Kaun had to be discontinued from Jaipur’s Moti Mahal cinema after just a 2-day run.

Till two years back, David Dhawan was the magic man. But his last few releases, including Mr. & Mrs. Khiladi, Banarasi Babu, Deewana Mastana and now, Gharwali Baharwali, have failed to create the magic of his earlier hits. Is it over-confidence or over-commitment? Either way, it’s bad and sad.


Initial Value

At last, there is some respite for the industry which has been craving for a film to take a fantastic opening at the box-office. Ghulam has opened to fantastic houses almost all over the country this week, much to the relief of the industry troubled by a spate of films failing to record even decent openings irrespective of their casts, makers or publicity campaigns. This favourable run of luck is expected to continue with the release of Major Saab next week (on 26th June). The publicity of the film has already generated a tremendous response among all and has come to be regarded as the year’s best publicity campaign so far. The fantastic poster and banner designs give an impression that the film has depth, and they are going a long way in creating the right mood for the film. Moreover, the film’s attractive promotional trailers have been well-received by the public.

The ‘A’ Factor

With the fantastic opening of Ghulam this week, and Major Saab expected to open to bumper houses next week, one cannot help but observe an interesting point of similarity between the two films — the ‘A’ factor. While Ghulam boasts of Aamir Khan in its cast, Major Saab has two A’s — Amitabh Bachchan and Ajay Devgan — not to mention ABCL which has produced the film! It sure looks like the ‘A’ factor is all-important……

Amitabh Bachchan ‘Controversy’ Limited?

With the release of Major Saab next week, ABCL has once again lived up to its reputation of being involved in pre-release controversies. Mani Ratnam’s Bombay (the all-India rights of which were held by ABCL) ran into rough weather over censorship. Shekhar Kapur’s Bandit Queen, an ABCL production, got into a major censor imbroglio not once but twice — the second time, it was resolved only when the Supreme Court granted the film a clearance for release. True to ABCL’s tradition, even Major Saab is reported to have upset the army which initially refused to clear the film for release. Fortunately for ABCL, the film was ultimately cleared by the army after minor changes were effected, but in good time for the release to not have had to be postponed. In view of the fact that each one of ABCL’s releases gets into unlimited problems while getting clearance from various agencies, it may help to change the company’s name to Amitabh Bachchan Clearance Limited! Or would Amitabh Bachchan Controversy (Un)Limited be a more appropriate change?

Hearing What And Signing What?

Nowadays, one often hears every other star waxing eloquent on how he never signs a film without hearing its complete story. If this were really true, our stars must be the worst judges of a film’s potential, in light of the fact that such a large number of films starring these very stars flop at the box-office! But the reality is not that they are poor judges. The fact is something else. In many cases, the stars hear only some scenes of the film instead of the complete story and, excited by them, sign the film without hearing the rest of the story. At other times, a star gets carried away by his role and, without knowing the whole story of the film, signs on the dotted line. As a result, it has become extremely easy for a clever, eloquent and articulate director to sign top stars up by narrating just three or four interesting scenes to them! Ultimately, what happens in such cases is that the rest of the film doesn’t match up to the narrated scenes and hence the film fails at the box-office. It must be borne in mind that a handful of scenes or a strong character for the hero alone do not make a film, and if our stars are under such an impression, they are fooling no one but themselves.

Who’s Copying Whom?

And here’s an incident that should make you laugh.

A 4-year old was watching Qila on cable TV. After a while, the little one, pointing at Dilip Kumar in the film, quipped, “Papa, papa, this old man is copying Shah Rukh Khan.”