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Pi & Parker beat Bond & Batman

- Tale of teen and tiger on a boat roars to the top of Holly charts

Chulbul Pandey has competition — not from a Khan, but from a Parker!

Even as Salman Khan’s Dabangg 2 blazes away, the Royal Bengal Tiger from Life of Pi has roared its way to box-office history. The Richard Parker-powered Ang Lee fantasy film, based on the Yann Martel bestseller, has become India’s biggest Hollywood earner of 2012, surging ahead of James Bond in Skyfall, Batman in The Dark Knight Rises and Spider-Man in The Amazing Spider-Man.

Life of Pi has surpassed all expectations and is going from strength to strength,” said an official of Fox Star Studios, the producer-distributor of the film.

In Calcutta, Life of Pi continues to draw crowds in its sixth week thanks to word-of-mouth publicity. This in a city where a Holly film usually struggles to get a second week. “The film shows no sign of slowing down. While almost all shows went houseful in the first few weeks, we still have quite a few packed-to-capacity shows now,” said an official of Fame Cinemas.

A simple story with a message and a strong India connect has been driven by 3D effects and the relationship between the teenaged Pi and Richard Parker, the tiger he befriends when stranded on a boat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. “The universal subject has ensured Life of Pi a wider audience. There is huge repeat viewership among children, especially for Richard Parker,” said Subhasis Ganguli, regional director, INOX.

Like Sakshi Verma of Ballygunge who is gearing up for a hat-trick. “I loved the cat-and-mouse game Pi and Richard Parker play on the boat,” smiled the 11-year-old.

The numbers for the Suraj Sharma-Irrfan Khan-Tabu starrer speak for themselves. “The collections have hardly shown a drop from the first to the fifth week. The multiplex audience has made it a point to watch the film twice or thrice, with kids making up most of the viewership in the Christmas-New Year holiday season,” said Mahendra Soni of Shree Venkatesh Films, the regional distributors of the film.

Bengal has emerged as a “surprise biggie” for the Royal Bengal Tiger tale. “With Rs 4cr gross already, Bengal is among the top six markets,” said the Fox Star official, adding: “The box-office records will give a fillip to the film at the Oscar nominations to be announced next week.”