Toronto: After desperate attempts by the Unforgettable Tour guys to paint what was a flop show as a superhit (a trick often employed in Mumbai with new releases), they seem to have come around to the realization that it was indeed a flop show. Having been able to sell less than a third of the available tickets at the Rogers Centre, there was no question in those present at the venue that the Bachchan magic was on the wane, and largely helped by unrealistic ticket prices and the less than capable promotion provided by the local organizers.
India Abroad received several letters claiming there were not more than 8,000 people present. One letter writer lamented that 'such outstanding artists had to perform before empty seats.'
Roger Nair, the distributor of the film Guru in Canada [Images], said there were a maximum of 8,000 to 10,000 people present.
Peter Fonseca, Ontario's minister of tourism, told India Abroad that there were 23,000 people present. When told there were reports contrary to that number, he said he would try and find out.His office came back with an excuse that they were misinformed by the promoters of the show Ethnic guru and the number was not from their office and thus washed their hands off.
Mumbai-based Wizcraft International Entertainment, the organisers of the tour, parted company with the Canadian promoters, Ethnic Guru, saying that the latter had failed to meet contractual commitments, a statement released by them in India said.
According to an IANS dispatch, the organisers have also notified Ethnic Guru to refund the money of the sponsors and also of the people who bought the tickets.
And now comes the news that the Vancouver has dropped the Bachchans for lack of box office enthusiasm among the fans.
Well known local promoter Kamal Sharma, who had been handling ticket sales for the Vancouver show, announced last Thursday the cancellation and offered refunds for those who had bought tickets.
"This is a real disappointment for the fans and it is certainly a set back for Vancouver as a Bollywood stars show destination," Sharma told the local paper LINK. "But there was apprehension about the prices of tickets but I believe it is still a doable show and for the sake of the fans I hope the show is saved."
Sharma said a drastic reduction in price from the Tour's management company WizCraft is the only way to save the show. The bottom price that WizCraft will sell the show for is $650,000 but Sharma feels that is still too high and something in the range of $500,000 - $550,000 is what will put the show back on track.
Some people now wonder why there was such an unseemly haste in portraying the show as a hit even by the Senior Bachchan on his website and some pliable media, when it was all too evident that Toronto was best forgotten. It was embarrassing when a blogger wrote on the same website, that he was there and he was a witness to the empty chairs.
A lot of attention is being paid to the local organizers who is being blamed for faulty organization, and an arrogant attitude. A source confided to Voice, "Last year they made a presentation to one of the major Canadian corporations, and they wanted $1 million in sponsorship. And they were serious!"
Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty might have something to do with creating this uncalled for level of confidence when he first lent his name to an event that launched the Unforgettable Tour last year where he was present and spoke eloquently of the 'Miss World' and her husband, Bachchan Jr. who were present. As a smart politician, it was a great photo opportunity for the Premier, but the people connected with it now suddenly swelled with importance and expectations.
With the collapse of the Toronto show, yet another dream of the Bachchans might have vanished - to host the IIFA (International Indian Film Academy) film festival in Toronto in 2011. In fact, according to one insider, the local agents with the support of some senior politicians were hoping to garner financial support for the festival, selling it as a great PR exercise both within and without the South Asian community.
"If the financial support of various levels of government had come through, they would've profited in the millions of dollars," said a source privy to how government grants work.
Now with so much negative attached to the Toronto opening, it is unlikely that the supporters within the government will be eager to cut the cheques for an event that could put their careers on line.