Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan Box Office: Is Homophobia Affecting the Theatrical Run of Ayushmann Khurrana’s Film? Here’s a Reality Check!

Sreeju Sudhakaran

Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan, for all its flaws, is really a landmark moment in the Hindi cinema. For the first time, a mainstream hero with a huge fanbase has played a gay man in a very mainstream movie and gave it the biggest box office opening weekend for a film with gay themes. Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan has brought homesexuality out of the half-open closet and placed it on the table for the general audience to face it and discuss, and maybe even laugh at their own insecurities around the subject. But how good a job has the film done with it comes to perpetrating its intentions to the audience? Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan Box Office: Ayushmann Khurrana's Film Scores The Highest Opening Weekend For Movies With Gay Theme.

Also Read | Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan Box Office Day 6: Ayushmann Khurrana’s Gay Romcom Collects Rs 42.22 Crore, Will Surpass Previous Installment's Lifetime Earnings Today

The biggest measure for that is the film's box office performance. And here's where things are pretty interesting. As we mentioned before, SMZS had the biggest opening weekend for a film that involves a gay protagonist. By the end of its first Sunday, the movie had collected Rs 32.66 crore, which is a decent enough earnings.

It is what happened in the days afterwards that brings a little concern to the movie's business. SMZS saw a drastic fall on the first Monday, earning about Rs 3.87 only. The collections slided down further in the next two days, and now SMZS' earnings stand at Rs 42.22 crore. Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan Box Office Day 6: Ayushmann Khurrana’s Gay Romcom Collects Rs 42.22 Crore, Will Surpass Previous Installment's Lifetime Earnings Today.

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So is this a bad performance for Ayushmann Khurrana's film? For s movie that deals with homosexuality, it is a decent enough performance. For an AK film, though, we have to say SMZS did underperform when you see the box office performances of the lead star's recent light-hearted ventures.

Let's start with the most concerning factor:

Homophobia

Ayushmann and Jitendra Kumar's Kiss in SMZS (Photo Credits: T-Series)

Whether you accept it or not, there is a prevalent sense of homophobia among the masses. It may be lesser in the metropolitan cities of the country, but homosexuality is still a taboo topic in the interiors of the country. This also reflects in the collections of Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan. The makers have been very clear in their promotions that their film deals with a gay romance. So the audience who have walked in to see the film knows what they are going to watch.

But has the gay romance taken a chunk out of Ayushmann Khurrana's usual viewer-base? Let's discuss that in the next section.

Brand Ayushmann Khurrana

Ayushmann Khurrana in in SMZS (Photo Credits: T-Series)

Ayushmann's stocks have been on the rise since he has been delivering back-to-back hits starting with 2017's Bareilly Ki Barfi. He cemented his status as a box office superstar with his first Rs 100 crore success of Badhaai Ho. He delivered two more Rs 100 crore hits with Dream Girl and Bala, both coming out in 2019. These films established what we know as the Ayushmann Khurrana formula - light-hearted entertainers with a social cause set in a small town in Uttar Pradesh. In between there were two films - Article 15 and AndhaDhun - that didn't exactly follow the formula. Both the films, while hits and critically acclaimed, didn't get past the Rs 100 crore mark.

Now, save for the gay romance, Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan is a formulaic AK film. In my review, I even said that the formula itself is the undoing of the film's valiant intentions. But general audiences don't always agree with what the critic has to say, and people have a soft corner for formulas these days. This is also the reason why the movie had a decent opening.

But if you compare the film's opening weekend collections to other recent AK-formula hits - be it Badhaai Ho, Dream Girl or Bala - the collections are actually the lowest. Badhaai Ho made Rs 46 crore in the opening weekend, Dream Girl made Rs 44.57 crore and Bala,  Rs 43.95 crore. Seeing the progressive decrease in collections and that SMZS made 'just' Rs 32.66 crore, either audience are getting tired of the formula or Ayushmann fans who aren't comfy with the depiction of homosexuality haven't flocked to the theatres. Especially in the interiors of the country.

Interestingly, the first Shubh Mangal Saavdhan, that dealt with erectile dysfunction made only Rs 43.11 crore in its entire theatrical run, and the sequel will eclipse that by tomorrow. Of course, that movie came before Ayushmann discovered the Rs 100 crore club.

The Bhoot Factor

Vicky Kaushal in Bhoot Part One - The Haunted Ship (Photo Credit: Dharma Productions)

SMZS had released along with Vicky Kaushal's horror film, Bhoot Part One - The Haunted Ship. While Bhoot also underperformed at the box office, worse than SMZS, it did eat into the collections of Ayushmann's film.

The Delhi Riots

A Picture taken during the Delhi 2020 Riots (Photo Credit: Twitter)

Did the communal violence that has been happening in Delhi also affected the collections of the film? Delhi has been a strong territory for Ayushmann's films, so we can't discount this factor either.

The Substance

Ayushmann and Jitendra Kumar in SMZS (Photo Credits: T-Series)

Now let's get to the nitty-gritties here. As much as I appreciate SMZS for taking a stand against homophobia, it isn't a good film. The movie is funny in parts and the actors all do a good job with they are given, especially Gajraj Rao, Neena Gupta and Manu Rishi Chaddha. But for the first time, I felt that AK brand of comedy becoming cloying and it is disappointing that it comes at the expense of a film as important as Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan. The movie isn't coherent enough, the comedy acts as a hindrance to the film's main plotline and Ayushmann's character often becomes secondary to the plot. Moreover, for a film that is about gay romance, the chemistry between Ayushmann and Jitendra Kumar is not even properly established. Two kisses just aren't enough, dear makers. See how you established the romance between the leads first in the first Shubh Mangal film, before you got into risque territory!

So what exactly is hampering the collections of SMZS? Is it the still prevalent homophobia among the viewers? Is it that the law of averages has caught up with Ayushmann? Or is the volatile situation of the country a reason for that?

A clearer picture  will be seen when the film enters its second weekend. With Taapsee Pannu's Thappad the one major Bollywood release this Friday, both SMZS and Bhoot have some room to breathe. We will have to see if that room is sufficient enough or if the movies have already consumed whatever oxygen they had.