The world of entertainment in India is all agog over iconic actor Shah Rukh Khan’s ‘Pathaan’ with audiences responding positively – and movie theatres shut by covid are re-opening, reports our correspondent in Mumbai in our regular monthly Indian film beat…
By Rodrigues C
MUMBAI and the country in general is chilling, literally – due to the winter temperatures.
On the other hand, Bollywood it seems is on fire. The first month of the year has started with a bang – powered by Shah Rukh Khan’s much-awaited-much-anticipated-much-hyped spy thriller ‘Pathaan’, which is its production house, Yash Raj Film’s, fourth movie in its spy universe after ‘Ek Tha Tiger’, ‘Tiger Zinda Hai’, ‘War’ and the third movie in the Tiger series, which is still untitled.
Just five days after its release, ‘Pathaan’ has amassed a fortune of more than £54 million worldwide and shattered several records.
It was released in more than 100 countries and over 8000 screens, the most for a Hindi film. As things stand, it has become the fastest Bollywood film to collect ₹250 crore (£25m), overtaking ‘KGF 2’ and the Hindi version of ‘Baahubali 2’, both of which reached £25m at the box office on day seven and day eight respectively.
Pathaan’s journey at the box office started with a whopping £5.8m opening, the highest single day or weekend collection in India or for a non-holiday film release.
The first day gross is the highest ever for Shah Rukh Khan (SRK) as well as his co-stars Deepika Padukone and John Abraham. It made ₹50 crore (£5m) thrice in four days, a feat that no other film has achieved. Its collections in India stand at £33.5m and are bound to break the £38.7M all-time record of ‘Dangal’.
In North America, its opening day collection of £1.7m on January 25 was the highest for a Hindi movie. It’s now seated at the number five position with a £5.3m booty.
The trailer of ‘Pathaan’, which is written and directed by Siddharth Anand, was out on January 10 and has been watched 51 million times.
It’s SRK’s first film after the 2018 dud ‘Zero’. The song ‘Besharam Rang’ caused controversy due to Padukone’s saffron bikini attire.
There were calls to ban the film, protestors tore its posters and burnt SRK’s effigies. There was even a court case against the film. On the web, trolls called for the film’s boycott and abusive hashtags trended. The controversy helped the spy thriller create records without the customary promotions such as media interviews, or television show spots or public appearances by cast members. The movie could easily go in the record books for being the first to become a box office hit with the least number of promotions.
Earlier, Anand had said that the film’s promotions would start after its release.
In fact, ‘Pathaan’s first press conference was held on this evening (January 30) in Mumbai. A day earlier, SRK had greeted fans from the balcony of his suburban pad Mannat. In his inimitable style, the actor blew kisses, flashed the thumbs up sign, waved, folded his hand, smiled and said ‘Thank you’ repeatedly to the throng of fans. His son AbRam too appeared in the gallery to wave at fans.
At today’s press conference, it was clear that there was a lot for the film as its three main leads: SRK, John Abraham and Deepika Padukone talked about the reaction to the film.
Padukone said the response had been “incredible” and that she could have done more action scenes. Abraham praised SRK, while King Khan said the heart of the film was Abraham and his performance as Jim. For his part, SRK said that no one should take the film too seriously – it was fun and entertainment and “should be left at that…don’t take it seriously”, SRK is reported to have said. And compared the film to the Bollywood classic, ‘Amar Akbar Anthony’ and its ethos – “We have to keep our stories seeped in India”, he added.
Interestingly, as many as 25 cinema halls, which were shut during covid, reopened for the release of ‘Pathaan’, which is now the highest grossing Bollywood film in the last three years, since ‘War’ of 2019.
The ‘Pathaan’ bonanza is surely bound to bring in rewards for these theatre owners as far as future releases is concerned. The film’s minimum promotion strategy will lead to makers of upcoming films reworking their marketing plans in order to reduce costs, especially in present times when most films are losing big money at the box office.
Despite the lack of traditional promotion, the media is abuzz with ‘Pathaan’. Even Bollywood star Kangana Ranaut, who has been critical of the mass Hindi film industry and its stars in recent times. has showered praise on the film.
For now, it’s party time in Mumbai’s filmdom. Whether ‘Pathaan’ will lead the way and revive Bollywood’s dwindling fortunes is anybody’s guess.
*In figures just released today (January 30) – ‘Pathaan’ was second in the latest box office numbers in the UK – only behind ‘Avatar: Way of Water’ with the Bollywood film’s total UK takings estimated to be £2m so far, just a few days after its release on Thursday (January 26) and beat ‘Plane’, ‘The Fabelmans’ and ‘M3GAN’, as reported in Screen Daily.