The feasting of Id after the fasting of Ramazan became yummier with the masala of Chennai Express.
Shah Rukh Khan reclaimed his position as the Badshah of Bollywood, chugging and whistling to box office success with his Id release this year, and leaving Salman Khan’s Ek Tha Tiger behind.
King Khan’s Id release this year beat Salman’s last year Independence Day release both in the number of shows and first-day collections.
While the love story of an Indian and a Pakistani spy couple had 20 shows in the city, the love story of a common man and the daughter of an underworld don made its debut with 31 on Friday. It collected Rs 16,85,786 — around Rs 4 lakh more than Rs 12,37,500 that Ek Tha Tiger had made on its day of release.
“Records are meant to be broken,” said R.N. Das, the president of Patna Cine Society. “If there are more shows and they are houseful, the film will do good business. As Chennai Express is the only release this Id, it naturally was the biggest winner.”
Das added that if Ek Tha Tiger had more shows last year, it might have also done equally well or even better.
Keeping speculation at bay, fans thronged the cinemas to catch the blockbuster that unabashedly stuck to the masala formula of Bollywood and south Indian films.
Before the release of the film, market analysts and cinema experts had said Shah Rukh needed a big hit as his last one — Jab Tak Hain Jaan — had not done too well in Patna. The full cinemas and the euphoria of the fans after the shows left no one in doubt about the swashbuckling comeback.
Five shows at Regent, five at Mona, three at Elphinstone and 18 at Cinepolis were all houseful. Right after offering namaaz at Gandhi Maidan, people rushed to catch the shows at the nearest cinema. At Regent some even tried the Lungi Dance — SRK’s tribute to Rajinikanth. The employees of the cinema were at their wit’s end trying to control them.
Mohammed Taslim, who had come to Mona, said: “Shah Rukh and Deepika (Padukone) have done a wonderful job. And every Rohit Shetty film is an entertainer!”
He added: “Last Id, there was Salman bhai and this year, we have Shah Rukh bhai. After observing fast during Ramazan, what could be a better feast than watching the new movie of your favourite star?”
Last year, Id was on August 20.
Giving the superstar company was Deepika Padukone, whose Tamil accent in the film had become popular even before its release. Regent owner Suman Kumar Sinha said: “Deepika is a big star. Her last film — Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani — was a huge hit. People are also coming to see her.”
Of course, who can forget the wonderful chemistry she shared with King Khan in her debut Om Shanti Om (2007)?
The success story and the celebrations, however, had a little catch. Last year, fans had been ready to buy tickets of Ek Tha Tiger for Rs 350. But on Friday, Shah Rukh fans, who had not made advance bookings, bought tickets of Chennai Express at a premium of Rs 300. (At the counters, these were listed at Rs 180.)
Also, promoters of Chennai Express had left no stone unturned to make it a hit. Besides carpet-bombing the audience with many shows, each cinema — taking a leaf out of Aamir Khan-starrer 3 Idiots — screened two paid previews of the film on Thursday. The team of Ek Tha Tiger had not resorted to any such publicity.
Like in cricket, timing is everything for film promotion and the Chennai Express team seems to have got it absolutely right.
Cinepolis manager Abhishek Ranjan said: “The audience has hardly any choice. The next big release — Once Upon a Time in Mumbai Dobaara! — will release on Independence Day. So most of them are going to watch Chennai Express. More shows and perfect timing has made it a hit.”