ARY Films’ Meera-Amna Ilyas starrer Baaji opened this past Friday to good box office numbers. The film had generated a favourable – if somewhat controversial – buzz in the days leading up to its release resulting in the picture grossing decent numbers on its opening day, estimated at around 90 lacs. Despite the ICC Cricket World Cup fever, it managed to sustain respectably over the weekend, with the final numbers estimated at around 3 crores, according to distributor ARY Films.
HIP got in touch with Irfan Malik, Senior VP at ARY Film to inquire about their collaboration with Saqib Malik and the kind of box office response it has generated. “Saqib had been genuinely trying to make a film for the last five years, and when he finally came up with Baaji ARY Films took it up as the distributors, although we had no creative input as far its content is concerned,” he explained, adding “As a distributor, my job was to believe in what he believed in -- Baaji belongs to a very different genre, especially when you compare it with the Pakistani films that have been made in the last four years or so, which generally fall into the more commercial rom-com genre.”
Baaji has a storyline that is thematically within the mystery-drama realm, which has rarely been explored in recent times in the country. Regarding this, Irfan stated “The subject material and treatment of the film is such that it is meant for a niche segment of the audience -- it is not particularly mass-oriented, although we went for a wide release. The response from families has also been predictably on the lower side. Given all of this, the film still managed a 3 crore plus weekend which I believe is a very good initiative. The critics’ reviews have been overwhelmingly positive and I also believe it will generate a good word of mouth through the audience, which will allow the film to trend well in coming weeks.”
Critics, as well as the audience, have been all praises for Meera’s performance, which Irfan said is a victory for the film. “One of the achievements of the film has been to balance the negativity around Meera. The perception about the star had changed even prior to the film’s release, and now with the film, she is finally getting the respect that she deserved.”
“Saqib has a lot of passion for filmmaking and I genuinely hope that he continues to make films. Whereas he comes from an advertising background and has had exposure to filmmaking, some new filmmakers who are stepping into the field for the first time – it would be genuinely beneficial to them to sit with the distributor to get creative input on the script during the pre-production phase.”
Saqib Malik meanwhile sounded very bullish on the response received by the film. “The feedback has been excellent, overall. We made the film with a certain audience in mind and that audience has lapped it up. The box office has been a bit affected by the World Cup but it is coming along very well and as per expectations”