Rangoon bombs at box office: Sloppy script, misleading promotion, Oscars, exam fever to blame?

Vishal Bhardwaj's war romantic drama Rangoon has opened to a dismal performance at the box office. It earned barely Rs 20 crore on its opening weekend, thus making it the lowest opening of Viacom 18 and the 57-year old production house of Sajid Nadiadwala, as per a report by Bollywood Hungama.

Kangana Ranaut with Saif Ali Khan in Rangoon. Screengrab from YouTube

Kangana Ranaut with Saif Ali Khan in Rangoon. YouTube

The film boasted of three bankable stars and an ace director. However, their collaborative offering could not impress the audience much, as evident by its box office figures. Nadiadwala, who made the film at a budget of Rs 60 crore, wisely sold it to Viacom for Rs 67 crore. Add to that, printing and promotion costs of Rs 13 crore, the total budget of the film was around Rs 80 crore, a humongous number to recover in the market.

There have already been three Rs 100 crore films in 2017 — Rahul Dholakia's crime drama Raees, Sanjay Gupta's revenge saga Kaabil and Subhash Kapoor's courtroom drama Jolly LLB 2. These three were held by Shah Rukh Khan, Hrithik Roshan and Akshay Kumar respectively who have nailed the Rs 100 crore mark multiple times in the past.

While Rangoon desperately needed to make it to the Rs 100 crore club in order to at least recover its costs, its current trajectory does not suggest that it will be able to do so. Though it is a female-oriented film, Kangana Ranaut has carried films like Queen and Tanu Weds Manu Returns on her shoulders and marched her way to box office success. But as the review by Firstpost contributor Anna M Vetticad suggests, while she fits the bill in her fierce character, she is clueless about the direction in which the film is heading.

Also, the promotions of the film were dominated by a lot of controversies that sidelined the film and defeated the purpose of the promotional drive. Initially, the film garnered headlines for its casting coup as Kareena Kapoor Khan's husband Saif Ali Khan and former boyfriend Shahid Kapoor shared the screen space in the film. Then, Ranaut's public spat with Hrithik Roshan also snatched away the spotlight from the content of the film. The Padmavati episode in Jaipur forced the journalists to focus more on the issue in Shahid's interviews than the film that he was scheduled to promote. To make matters worse, rumours of tension between Shahid and Kangana and a court case by the Wadia family cropped up as well.

Bhardwaj chose not to take the forefront during the promotion and willingly took a backseat, allowing the stars to promote the film. However, Ranaut, Shahid and Saif were embroiled in their fair share of controversies at that time which diverted the media limelight from the issue at hand — Rangoon. The three stars were too occupied giving explanations about Hrithik, Padmavati and Taimur Ali Khan. Had Bhardwaj been all out there to promote his film, perhaps the content of the film would have grabbed more headlines. It is probably because of this communication gap that the audience were left confused about the genre of the film. While some deemed it to be a romance, the others expected it to be a period war film.

Another reason for the downfall of Rangoon at the box office is the timing of its release. Unlike Raees and Kaabil, it did not release on a holiday or long weekend like that of the Republic Day. Unlike Jolly LLB 2, it did not have to bear the brunt of the exam season which prevented students and even their parents from watching the film.

If that was not enough, the 89th Academy Awards hammered the final nail in its coffin. Hollywood enthusiasts were busy catching up on all the films nominated for the Best Picture category since a majority of them released in India immediately before the Academy Awards aired on 27 February. Garth Davis' Lion, Pablo Narrain's Jackie, Barry Jenkins' Moonlight and Theodore Melfi's Hidden Figures released almost at the same time in India in order to bank on the Oscar fever. Though Rangoon did not have any formidable Hindi release to compete with, it lost its sheen to half a dozen of critically-acclaimed Hollywood offerings.

Thus, there were a myriad range of forces that reduced the momentum of Rangoon at the box office. The film may have looked good on papers but a few misses in its execution and promotion ended up costing a bomb to the makers. When the dust settled, Rangoon proved to be a good film gone horribly wrong.


Published Date: Mar 02, 2017 10:26 am | Updated Date: Mar 02, 2017 10:26 am