Family powers Ra.One on Day I

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  • Published 27.10.11

Oct. 26: Ra.One appears to be riding a wave powered by children and some young parents who spotted a chance to convert their little ones into Shah Rukh Khan fans like themselves.

Initial estimates suggest the movie on which Shah Rukh has staked his reputation and crores could be on its way to break the record of Bodyguard in opening day collections.

Ra. One has taken a very good opening at the box office. In theatres playing the 3D version of the film, the opening was 100 per cent. Cinemas playing the 2D version witnessed 70 to 100 per centoccupancy,” said trade analyst Komal Nahta.

He cautioned that too much should not be read into the less-than-capacity turnout in some 2D halls. “Don’t be surprised at the less than 100 per cent collections as today is Diwali. Traditionally, the Diwali day is considered a little dull for the box-office as a lot of Hindusdo not go to the cinemas as they are busy with puja, guests and otherfestivities at home,” Nahta added.

Delhi mirrored this trend. In the morning a south Delhi multiplex was half-empty but the later shows were booked by the afternoon and the night shows were sold out.

Mumbai exhibitor Rajesh Thadanai said that the all-India opening figures for single-screen theatres stood at 60 per cent and it jumped to 90 per cent in multiplexes.“The opening day response shows that the film is likely to cross the opening record of Bodyguard,” he said. The Salman Khan-starrer had grossed Rs 21 crore on the first day and over Rs 102 crore in the first week.

“While it is difficult to quote a figure yet since the night shows are still pending, it seems like Ra.One will be the biggest opener this year, if not of all time,” a Mumbai-based trade analyst said in the evening.

Two features appear to have added to the advantage of Ra.One — the huge number of prints and the 3D version that is raking in more revenue.

Industry sources said Ra.One appeared to have clocked a better opening than Bodyguard on the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh circuit.Overall, they felt, the film did better in southern India, grossing a92 per cent opening on Friday, while in north India, the figure was put around 50 per cent.

“This is perhaps because the film has been released in Tamil and Telugu versions in south India and that is fuelling the success,” saidThadani. A special appearance by Rajnikant is being seen as an additional pull factor.

In the south, comparisons with Endhiran, the robot movie starring Rajinikant, were inevitable.

“There’s no comparison with Robot,” Rahul Bhat of Bangalore said, referring to the Hindi name of the Rajinikant blockbuster. “On the whole Ra.One is good since the VFX (visual effects) and action sequences are executed quite well if you don’t compare it with Robot.”

But Ananth Reddy, a public relations professional in Chennai, differed: “It (Ra.One) definitely was classier than Endhiran and Shah Rukh was simply fabulous. The children and families would simply love him.”

That prophecy looked to be bearing out with children hotfooting it to the halls, parents in tow. The lone point of dissent seemed to be whom the children liked better: the “kick-ass” Ra.One, played by Arjun Rampal, or the hero G.One played by Shah Rukh.

In south Delhi’s Dt Star multiplex, siblings Anusha, 5, and Nadeem, 4, were divided in their loyalties. “I liked Ra.One. I’m not scared of him,” said Anusha. Nadeem shook his head nervously in disagreement with his sister. “G.One accha hai . Ra.One se dar lagta hai , (G.One is good. I’m scared of Ra.One),” he mumbled.

During the morning show, seven-year-old Anav Gupta and his tribe of young Ra.One fans shrieked in fear when heroine Kareena Kapoor reveals her identity to the child-artiste Armaan Verma.

“Ra.One is too scary. I like G.One,” said Anav. His mother Priti, one of the adults in the hall who held her popcorn steady when Kareena, her eyes gleaming an evil red, gives a chilling electronic growl, said that though the first half was “very slow”, watching it on Diwali was worth it for her son.

Not everyone liked the movie, though. One student, Siddharth Kumar, found the film boring. “Ghar baithe TV pe dekho yaar. Flop picture hai, (Sit at home and watch it on TV. It’s a flop)” he said.

Some parents, possibly with a sheepish touch, pinned the early-bird “blame” on their children but did not hold back on the applause. Five-year-old Aryan Mehndiratta’s father Rakesh dubbed the action as “awesome”. “My son insisted we catch the first-day first-show. The pace of the second half makes up for the first.”

But if Shah Rukh is looking for the best mother among his first-day fans, Juhi Kazi should be a strong contender. Juhi brought her daughter Zara, all of three-and-a-half years old, to Adlabs Metro in south Mumbai with a specific motive.

“I am a huge Shah Rukh fan. My daughter likes Salman, though. This was my attempt at making her like Shah Rukh as he plays a superhero whom kids love watching.”

Did Juhi’s strategy work?

“She did like him and enjoyed the film,” Juhi said.

Reporting by Pheroze L. Vincent, Priyanka Roy, Sadaf Modak, G.C. Shekhar and K.M. Rakesh