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Gabbar Singh on a roll at the box office

Telugu remake of Dabangg collects Rs 128.75 crore in three weeks as audiences flock to cinemas

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, a remake of the -starrer Bollywood blockbuster has taken the box office by storm.

The power-packed film has become the biggest grosser for a Telugu film, collecting a staggering Rs 128.75 crore in just three weeks (till June 1) in the domestic and global market together. It is also closing in on the box-office success of the movie it has been inspired by. Dabangg had grossed over Rs 173 crore, which catapulted it into the league of the top five Bollywood blockbusters.

Gabbar Singh was made with a budget of Rs 30 crore and released on 2,857 screens worldwide, which made it one of the widest distributed Telugu films.

, younger brother of actor-turned-politician , plays the lead role of a cop. Unlike Salman, who is portrayed as a corrupt police officer with an unorthodox working style, the remake has shown Kalyan as a sincere officer. The movie, directed by , also stars .

“It’s an out-and-out show reel of Pawan Kalyan. We expect the exhibitors to rake in the moolah in the weeks to come,” says Bandla Ganesh, the film’s producer.

The last Telugu films that made waves were Mahesh Babu’s Dookudu, which was released in December and grossed Rs 83.15 crore in the first 21 days, and Ramcharan Teja’s Magadheera (released in August 2009), which garnered Rs 90 crore in the same period. According to boxofficeindia.com, “It needs to be seen how big Gabbar Singh becomes in the weeks to come.” Om Prakash, a Telugu film trade analyst, said, “The character has caught the fancy of fans. The film has created an all-time record so far and will keep the cash registers ringing.”

Last weekend, Gabbar Singh crossed $1 million (about Rs 5.5 crore) at the US box office. In its opening weekend in the US, the movie collected Rs 4.13 crore ($765,373) while recent Hindi blockbusters like Rockstar, starring Ranbir Kapoor, collected Rs 3.30 crore ($612,235), Akshay Kumar’s Desi Boyz Rs 3.79 crore ($702,325), Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu, with Imran Khan and Kareena Kapoor, Rs 3.5 crore ($637,100) and Saif Ali Khan’s Agent Vinod Rs 2.34 crore ($427,043).

Gabbar Singh was released in one-third of the screens where Hindi movies are released. Yet, the total is bigger,” says film trade analyst Taran Adarsh. The movie was released on 43 screens in the US, with the per screen average working out to Rs 9.61 lakh (or $17,799).

With audiences looking beyond Bollywood, regional films are fast catching up. More than a dozen films in Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu, Bhojpuri, Bengali and Marathi are scheduled to be launched this summer, say trade pundits.

“Many of these will have English sub-titles for a wider appeal, a trend that started last year with Tamil film Vinnayithaandi Varuvaayaa. It was followed by Rajinikant’s Endhiran, which earned Rs 70 crore abroad while the dubbed version collected around Rs 20-25 crore,” they say.

Film distributors, too, are moving fast to cash in on the trend. A look at the 2012 line-up of UTV Motion Pictures shows that of the 20-odd films being made this year, nine would cater to the regional markets. UTV Motion Pictures has four Tamil films, Kumki, Masala Cafe, Mugamoodi and Thaandavan, and two Malayalam films, Mohanlal’s Grandmasters and Husbands In Goa up for release. The Rs 800-crore Eros International has lined up 59 films in regional Indian languages.

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