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Decoding the number game of Hum Aapke Hain Koun...!

1 month ago 52

In our exclusive

Box Office Nostalgia

section, we revisit iconic hits and cult classics which have shaped cinema over the years. This week, we decode the number game behind one of

Salman Khan


Madhuri Dixit

's biggest hits -

Hum Aapke Hain Koun

Film: Hum Aapke Hain Koun...!
Release date: August 5, 1994
Star cast: Salman Khan, Madhuri Dixit, Mohnish Bahl, Renuka Shahane, Alok Nath, Reema Lagoo, Anupam Kher, Satish Shah and Himani Shivpuri among others.

Director: Sooraj Barjatya
Hum Aapke Hain Koun...! is unarguably amongst the most ambitious and a game changer film in

Indian Cinema

. And the film's stupendous success is testimony to its makers' daring courage of conviction. Amongst its many successes, a few notable highlights include changing the way cinema idioms are used, and suddenly, music is taking the film's story forward. The film also revolutionized the way music was recorded for a film. The unusual and innovative marketing and distribution strategy forced the distributors and exhibitors to renovate their theatres. And the film brought the Indians back to the cinema halls – globally - like never before. HAHK also made homely and decent cool once again. While doing all the above, the film also escaped the era's biggest menace – piracy!

Hum Aapke Hain Koun...! was released in cinemas on August 5, 1994, with only 26 prints, and it was stipulated it would be released in only one theatre per city. In Mumbai, the theatre was Liberty; in Delhi, it was Delite. Only those cinema halls across the country equipped with an 'optical stereo system' were allowed to play the film. Exhibitors could choose to upgrade or miss out on being able to screen the film.

Hum Aapke Hain Koun!

Senior trade analyst Komal Nahta reminiscences, "After ages, somebody dared to release a film on limited screens. It started with 32 screens, and everyone said that it was a suicide mission and they would destroy themselves because piracy was at its peak. But Rajshri had faith in their vision. They asked the exhibitors to renovate their theatres, and only then would they give their films for exhibition. They told the theatre owners to create an atmosphere for people to enter the theatres. They had put on lights at Liberty Cinema that would go on when the 'Didi Tera Devar Deewana' song would play."
Liberty Cinema in Mumbai was decorated for the film's grand release and upgraded to become a high-end cinema hall with optical stereo sound to match the film. Film historian Dilip Thakur said, "Before Hum Aapke Hain Koun...!, Liberty used to screen B and C-grade films, and therefore, they needed to facelift the film to bring back the audience to the cinemas."
Director Sooraj Barjatya told Etimes, "We had the biggest premiere at Liberty Cinema. I was shocked because there was no reaction. People were walking out during songs. I was scared. Adi (Aditya Chopra) and Salim Sahab (Salim Khan) had told me that the two-and-a-half songs were my indulgences and that I should cut them. I cut those songs."
The film did not take a flying start, and the initial reaction was mixed. The film was too different from the rest of the fare. The musical format took a while for the public to adjust to, and in the first three weeks of the release, Hum Aapke Hain Kaun got tagged as Chaayageet, the popular music program on Doordarshan. PS Ramanathan of Rajshri production said, "Till the first three weeks, the reception was shaky, and it was only after the 5th week the film's business picked up, and that's when we started releasing the film in mono cinemas also, and it reached about 582 cinemas."
Made on a budget of Rs 6 crore, the film earned around Rs 10 lakh on its opening day and the India Gross collection of the film stands at Rs 117 crore.
Nahta recalls going to the cinema to watch the film and his initial reaction: "After one or two weeks of the film's release, Rajshri Cinema was opened, and we had been invited to the opening. The cinema's manager came to pick us up. I asked him, "What has clicked in the film for the audience? because people are calling it a wedding tape." He said, “Kaunsi shaadi mein Madhuri naachti hai? Iss mein Madhuri naachi na?"
The film's story moves through music, and the sound needs the highest quality. Until the advent of HAHK, composers recorded music in one sitting, with all musicians performing together. With the young Sooraj at the helm, the music recording method changed forever. Every instrument was recorded separately and mixed for the optical stereo system experience.
And the game changed.
Film historian Dilip Thakur RECALLED, "The video piracy in the 80s almost ruined the business of cinema, and it was more of action films that were working, and family audiences had stopped going to the cinema, but with Hum Aapke Hain Koun...!, the family returned in a big way." The world has opened up to the globalization of cinema and began with this film in a big way. While there was reluctance and most action films were working overseas, Hum Aapke Hain Koun...! changed the game, bringing the family audience back into the domestic market. It opened up an Indian diaspora to watch family films, and this film set the trend. They latched on to a movie about Indian traditions and values and celebrated weddings grandly.
Some of the inadvertent results of the film are that weddings in India became larger than life. Sooraj tells us that he wrote what he saw at home. Indian weddings were no longer just ordinary but became big celebrations, and wedding budgets shot up and reflected what one saw in Hum Aapke Hain Koun...!. The Merchandise business boomed … After Bobby, which was released in 1972, Hum Aapke Hain Koun...! popularized and was highly successful in attracting the audience to buy merchandise of the film from Madhuri Dixit saree to Tuffy to other accessories and clothes of Salman Khan and posters of the film, Mugs, etc. The film's merchandise is still sold online.

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