Producers of Sarfira go low-key and slash promotions as Akshay Kumar’s recent releases & remakes face box office challenges

Just one week is left for the release of Akshay Kumar-starrer Sarfira in cinemas and the promotional campaign has been minimal. Bollywood Hungama has learned that it’s a conscious decision by the makers due to several factors, one of them being Akshay Kumar’s poor run at the box office.

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Producers of Sarfira go low-key and slash promotions as Akshay Kumar’s recent releases & remakes face box office challenges
Industry analysts speculate that the success of Sarfira will depend heavily on word-of-mouth and the film’s ability to resonate with viewers beyond the initial promotional blitz. This approach contrasts sharply with the high-profile campaigns typically associated with Akshay’s films, which have often relied on extensive marketing to drive box office numbers.

A source told Bollywood Hungama, “Akshay’s recent films haven’t worked, be it Selfiee (2023), Mission Raniganj (2023) or Bade Miyan Chote Miyan (2024). The last one was a big-budget flick and its failure affected the actor big time. Moreover, the makers want to go the 12th Fail (2023) way. It was also a film which didn’t have extensive promotions and it picked up through word of mouth. Sarfira makers believe that their film is in the same zone and would score once the public reports are out.”

“It’s clear that the producers are wary of overspending on promotions when the return on investment is uncertain,” commented a Bollywood insider familiar with the situation. “Given the current climate where even star-studded films can falter at the box office, there’s a cautious optimism surrounding Sarfira.”

However, what adds to their challenge is that it’s a remake of Suriya’s National Award-winning film Soorarai Pottru (2020). This Tamil flick and also its Hindi dubbed version Udaan are available on Amazon Prime Video and have already been seen by several Hindi audiences. The source added, “The makers of Sarfira are getting the film promoted through certain influencers and they have been told not to mention that it’s a remake. But the aam junta knows about it.”

In fact, post-pandemic, Bollywood filmmakers are trying their best to ensure that the original film’s Hindi dubbed version is not available before their remake releases in Hindi. The manner in which Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo’s (2020) Hindi version was stopped from being released in cinemas until its remake Shehzada (2023), doesn’t release in cinemas, is a memorable episode. Manish Shah of Goldmines, eventually, released the Hindi dubbed version on his television channel. Though he didn’t make it available on his popular YouTube channel, pirated copies were made and widely consumed. This was a time when Allu Arjun became a huge star in Hindi markets with the success of Pushpa (2021) and it added to Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo’s Hindi version’s viewership.

The makers of Drishyam 2 (2022) went to great lengths to stop the release of the Telugu film Drushyam 2’s (2021) Hindi dubbed version online. For Shaitaan (2024), the makers went one step ahead and reportedly, they stopped the original film Vash (2023) from being aired on Shemaroo Me. It’s significant to note that Vash was not even dubbed in Hindi and yet, the producers of the Ajay Devgn starrer took this step.

Trade veteran Taran Adarsh, however, said, “Sarfira is not a Bade Miyan Chote Miyan or one of those masala films. Soorarai Pottruis a real-life story and the way they have presented the story on screen is beautiful. Also, the same director directing it (Sudha Kongara) makes a difference. I don’t know how many changes they have made in the Hindi version, though.”

He added, “Nevertheless, Sarfira is a content-based film and it’ll require nurturing and word of mouth. The good thing is that the trailer has been liked. And people would hopefully see it as an inspirational tale.”

As the release date for Sarfira approaches, all eyes will be on how this unconventional marketing strategy plays out in the competitive landscape of Bollywood. Will the decision to go low-key prove to be a stroke of genius or a missed opportunity? Only time and audience reception will tell whether Sarfira can defy the odds and emerge as a sleeper hit amidst the current uncertainties of the Indian film market.

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