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Bite of Barfi! after Tiger roar

- Salman just shy of Aamir as Ranbir charms box office

The big one looks like lumbering to a halt just short of being the biggest and a not-so-big one has got off to a flier at the box office.

Ranbir Kapoor’s Barfi! opened to packed houses across the country on Friday even as Salman Khan’s Ek Tha Tiger stood tantalisingly poised on the brink of the Rs 200-crore mark — and a shade shy of Aamir Khan’s Rs 202-crore record with 3 Idiots.

“Barfi! has opened big and Ek Tha Tiger may reach yet another milestone this weekend. It’s a good time at the movies,” said Mumbai-based trade analyst Taran Adarsh.

Till Thursday, the Salman Khan-Katrina Kaif box-office juggernaut had rolled to Rs 198.39 crore. “Though the film is in its last lap, Ek Tha Tiger may well cross the Rs 200-crore mark by Sunday,” said Adarsh.

Trade analyst Komal Nahta, who had predicted a Rs 180-crore run for Tiger on release, said: “I don’t know if it will beat 3 Idiots, but Rs 200 crore looks like a given.”

As the Tiger’s roar begins to fade after more than four weeks, Barfi! is making the right noises at the box-office. And the two couldn’t be a greater study in contrasts. One an Anurag Basu slice-of-life film shot in Darjeeling and Calcutta, the other a Kabir Khan blockbuster shot in nine cities around the world. One that brought together the king and queen of the box office in an explosive mix of action and romance, the other a quaint tale of a deaf-and-mute youngster (Ranbir), an autistic girl (Priyanka Chopra) and a simple Bengali girl (Ileana D’Cruz in her Bolly debut).

Everywhere in the city, Barfi! opened big — and remained big — with multiplexes pegging the Friday footfall count at “80 to 90 per cent”.

“It’s been an extraordinary Friday for a film that did not come in with blockbuster hype like Ek Tha Tiger. A large number of bulk bookings lined up over the weekend should push up the numbers further,” said Subhasis Ganguli, regional director, INOX.

At Fame (South City), when t2 went for the 9.15am show to review the film, the plex was buzzing with the large no. 4 audi almost full. The primarily young crowd had a blast, laughing out loud and spontaneously applauding at the end. Most even sat through the entire closing credit roll. “The morning shows notched up 80 per cent and touched 90 per cent in the evening shows,” revealed a Fame Cinemas official.

Barfi!’s Bong connection has added to the appeal — Basu as director, the Calcutta-Darjeeling look and feel, Tolly faces like Roopa Ganguly and Jisshu Sengupta, and the team’s visit to Calcutta last Sunday, rocking the St. Xavier’s College audi before charming their way through a meet-and-greet with t2 readers.

Unlike Ek Tha Tiger that opened at more than 120 screens in the state, Barfi! has released in just 60. “If the business continues to be as good, we might look at increasing shows and theatres in the second week,” said Debashish Dey of Aum Moviez, the regional distributors of the film.

Taran Adarsh was among those who savoured the taste of Barfi!. “The fact that such experimental cinema that overturns Bollywood stereotypes has opened to such a huge response is a very encouraging trend.”