In our monthly column from Mumbai – everyone’s talking about the success of one film, just as another blockbuster hits cinemas worldwide today… .
by Rodrigues C
FOLKS, change is very much in the air. Bollywood’s post-covid era has started – some might argue from today March 25 itself.
Out of the blocks this morning was ‘RRR’ or ‘Roudram Ranam Rudhiram‘ in the original Telugu language or ‘Rise Roar Revolt‘ in English – quite clearly one of the most anticipated movies in recent times.
Helmed by auteur SS Rajamouli, whose two Baahubali films became a global phenomenon – ‘Baahubali: The Beginning’ (2015) and ‘Baahubali: The Conclusion’ (2017) and made an international star of its lead Prabhas – is back.
A period piece set in the time of the Raj, it features two stars of Telugu cinema Ram Charan and Jr NTR and has a couple of cameo roles for established Bollywood names.
First – its numbers, as far as Indian standards go – these are simply mind boggling.
The Hindi version was released on 3,200 screens, and in south India and overseas, this number is about 3,500 and 1,750.
‘RRR’ was also released in more than 100 IMAX screens worldwide, the highest so far. Tickets worth £3 million were sold prior to the release. It was made on a budget of around £40m.
While 30 per cent of the film’s profits will be shared with Rajamouli, actors Ram Charan and Jr NTR were handed cheques totaling £4.5m each.
Bollywood stars Ajay Devgn and Alia Bhatt took home paychecks of £2.5m and £900,000 for their extended cameos. Even before its release, ‘RRR’ had collected a whopping £60m through worldwide distribution rights, pre-release business in India, and satellite and digital sales.
‘RRR’ also has a Ukraine connection. In August, 2021, Rajamouli along with his team flew to Kyiv to shoot the song ‘Naatu naatu’.
They stayed in the now war-ravaged country for two weeks. Recently, a video surfaced online in which a Ukrainian man named Rusty is seen thanking Charan for helping him financially during the present crisis in his country. It is believed that Rusty was party of Charan’s security detail in Kyiv.
It looks as though ‘RRR‘ is leading the cinema revival and there are hopes it will do better than even predicted.
More surprisingly though has been the box office success of ‘The Kashmir Files’ (‘TKF’).
The film is controversial because of its storyline – as it focuses on the exodus of Kashmiri Hindus from the region when it was engulfed in violence in the 1990s and terrorist groups were active and battling security forces pretty much on a daily basis.
That all aside, the numbers coming out of cinema halls are startling and this is exactly what a bleeding film industry badly needed.
Made on a paltry £1.5m budget, ‘TKF‘ has so far raked in an astounding £20m at the box office since its release on March 11. It’s the first Bollywood film to make £20m in the month of March and has made more money in its second week than the first, which is unprecedented in Bollywood’s history. At £7m, it is now Bollywood’s third highest second week grosser behind the £8.07m of ‘Baahubali 2 – The Conclusion’ and £7.3m of Aamir Khan’s ‘Dangal’.
In terms of its budget, ‘TKF’ is turning out to be the most profitable venture since ‘Uri-The Surgical Strike’ in 2013. While the latter made a 876 per cent return on investment, the figure for the former stands at 900 per cent.
The film’s success is denting the numbers of Bollywood megastar’s Akshay Kumar’s ‘Bachchan Pandey’, which was released on March 18 after several delays.
For the uninitiated, ‘TKF’ doesn’t feature big names, which is the norm nowadays for a potential hit. There’s Pallavi Joshi – wife of the film’s director Vivek Agnihotri, Darshan Kumar, Mithun Chakraborty and of course the saving grace Anupam Kher, a serving Member of Parliament from the ruling BJP and one of the most popular of Bollywood’s older guard. Kher has been in a number of international productions.
He has been spearheading the film’s publicity campaign. Almost everybody is talking about the movie, including on social media, which is fueling intense debates about its storyline. Many film stars such as Akshay Kumar, Ajay Devgn, Manoj Bajpayee, Kangana Ranaut, Parineeti Chopra, Kay Kay Menon and Yami Gautam have tweeted about the film.
At an ‘RRR’ press conference, Bollywood star, Aamir Khan, lending his support to SS Rajamouli, even went to the extent of saying that “everyone should watch The Kashmir Files”.
Owning to popular sentiment, states such as Haryana, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Goa, Karnataka, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand have waved off a portion of the taxes levied on films for ‘TKF‘ or made it ‘tax free’ in local lingo.
See you all next month!
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