Tolly rides festive flavour to beat Bolly - Autograph and Dui Prithibi score over Aakrosh and Knock Out with stars and style

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By PRIYANKA ROY AND KUSHALI NAG
  • Published 19.10.10
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Autograph’s Arun Chatterjee has raced past Aakrosh’s Pratap Kumar. Jeet and Dev in Dui Prithibi have vroomed ahead of Sanjay Dutt and Irrfan in Knock Out. Tollywood has beaten big brother Bollywood this festive weekend.

With revellers managing to pack in a visit to the cinemas alongside pandal-hopping and eating out, Bengali is the filmi flavour. “During Puja, people budget for at least one visit to the cinemas and there has been a rise in footfalls this year as compared with the same period last year. The crowd count has been remarkable for both the Bengali films,” says Virendra Marya, regional director, INOX. At the two Fame plexes, the Tolly films notched up business in the region of “75 to 80 per cent”, much higher than the “35 per cent-odd” footfalls for Aakrosh and Knock Out.

The “overwhelming response” to Dui Prithibi and Autograph has made Puja 2010 memorable for Shrikant Mohta of Shree Venkatesh Films, the producer-distributor of both films. “Dui Prithibi’s collections have been historic and we are expecting the first week returns to cross Rs 5 crore. Autograph too is doing fantastic business,” says Mohta.

“We wanted both films to do good business because the fight wasn’t between Raj (Chakraborty, director of Dui Prithibi) and Srijit; it was rather Bolly versus Tolly. Together these two films have proved that a good film can still draw the Bengali audience during Puja,” says Srijit Mukherjee, the director of the Prosenjit-Nandana Sen-Indraneil Sengupta starrer.

Autograph, the story of a budding director and a fading superstar, and Dui Prithibi, a road film shot in Bolpur and Venice, have also set the cash registers ringing at single-screen cinemas. “Over the festive weekend, Dui Prithibi has earned close to Rs 7 lakh at Priya and Star Theatre. Even Autograph has found a lot of takers,” says exhibitor-distributor Arijit Dutta.

Priya to Purabi, Navina to Jaya, there’s a scramble for the two Tolly films. “On Dashami, I was part of a packed audience for Autograph at Priya and when I came out, I saw a serpentine queue for Dui Prithibi. I was overwhelmed,” says director Raj Chakraborty.

In north Calcutta’s Hatibagan, still dotted with halls that thrive on Bengali fare, it has been a throwback to the good ol’ days. Star Theatre, Darpana and Mitra had houseful boards hanging at the gates during the festive days, with the rush for tickets matching that of a popular pandal.

“It’s been a record Rs 11-12 lakh sale so far for Dui Prithibi,” says Dipen Mitra, owner of Mitra.

So what is it about Dui Prithibi and Autograph that has drawn the Bengali from the pandal to the plex? A combination of an A-list cast, glitzy promos and strong publicity. The music too — particularly Autograph’s Amake amar moto thakte dao and Yaara ve from Dui Prithibi — has caught on. “Ever since the film released last weekend, the demand for Autograph’s music has increased remarkably,” reveals a Music World official.

Bolly is ready with a blitzkrieg this weekend — John Abraham’s Jhootha Hi Sahi, Mallika Sherawat’s Hisss and Vivek Oberoi’s Rakta Charitra — but Tolly seems to be on a roll. “I watched Dui Prithibi last weekend and loved it. Next weekend, I will choose Autograph over any of the other Bolly films,” says movie buff Ripunjoy Biswas.