The director-actor duo of Kabir Khan and Salman Khan has weaved its magic on the silver screen once again, with Bajrangi Bhaijaan recording net box-office opening collections of Rs 27.25 crore (after tax). The film, released a day before Eid and launched in 4,200-4,500 screens across the country, has seen this year’s best opening in Bollywood.
Expectations from the film were high on many counts: Any Salman Khan-starrer creates waves in the media and the film fraternity, and an Eid release starring the actor is among the occasions most looked forward to in Bollywood. Last year, UTV Motion Pictures released Khan’s Kick (net after-tax opening collections of Rs 26 crore) on the Friday before Eid. The film went on to make a whopping Rs 233 crore (net after tax) at the box office and was one of the few films profitable at the Indian box office last year.
The Salman Khan-Kabir Khan duo has delivered one of the most successful films in Bollywood ever — Ek Tha Tiger (2012). At Rs 32.12 crore, the film recorded Bollywood’s best opening, until Shah Rukh Khan’s Chennai Express surpassed it in 2013. Ek Tha Tiger completed its box-office run just shy of the Rs 200-crore mark.
Another aspect in favour of Bajrangi Bhaijaan is Khan’s on-screen pairing with Kareena Kapoor Khan. The duo has seen success in the form of Bodyguard (2011), which recorded a lifetime collection of about Rs 150 crore at the box office in India.
Bajrangi Bhaijaan is the maiden production under Salman Khan Films, promoted by the actor. It has been made in association with Rockline Enterprises and is being distributed worldwide by Eros International. The estimated cost of production, including prints and advertising, is Rs 115 crore.
At the onset, however, the film’s run has seen a few hurdles. “The film is up there in terms of content and execution. Having said that, it lacks the action quotient people expect from a Salman film. As a result, a lot of single-screens have seen below-average occupancy, especially in Uttar Pradesh and Delhi. This was also because July 17 was the last Friday of the holy month of Ramzaan. As such, in a lot of Muslim-dominated places such as Moradabad, collections have been subdued. But despite this, the film is set for a blockbuster collection, as it is extremely palatable to the multiplex audience,” says Shaaminder Malik, independent distributor and trade analyst.
On its first day, the film recorded pan-India occupancy of about 75 per cent. Most of this was accounted for by multiplexes, where exhibitors saw up to 100 per cent occupancy.
Suniel Wadhwa, independent distributor and box-office analyst, says, “Bajrangi Bhaijaan had phenomenal opening-day net grossing of about Rs 27 crore. The first-day collections have beaten Khan’s Kick, also released pre-Eid last year…The collections are also better than those of PK, released on Christmas. There are high chances that by this weekend, it will gross Rs 100 crore at the box office, as Saturday was Eid and his ardent fans would want to lap up the film. Also, with good reports and reviews, it will continue to see good occupancy across the country.”
Predictions for the film’s lifetime collections stand at about Rs 250 crore.
The film’s satellite rights have been sold to STAR India, as part of a five-year deal struck between the media network and Salman Khan. As a result, the film was extensively used to cross-promote the STAR Sports Pro Kabaddi League, the second season of which started on Saturday.
Apart from Salman Khan and Kareena Kapoor Khan, the film stars Harshala Malhotra and Nawazuddin Siddiqui. Both critics and audiences are praising the actors’ performances. Malik says, “What the film lacks in terms of action it more than makes up for in the child actor (Malhotra). As a mute girl from Pakistan who finds her saviour in Salman Khan, she is an absolute delight to watch. The film’s message is very good and so, it will attract a lot of family audiences. It could have been shorter by about 20 minutes, which would have allowed more shows per day, per screen and made the fare crisper.”
The film is 159 minutes long and as a result, most screens are able to hold no more than five shows a day. This, however, might be compensated by the fact that pan-India rates have increased by an average Rs 30. Also, with hardly any noteworthy films due in the next two weeks, Bajrangi Bhaijaan has a clear run ahead.
While Khan and company celebrate Eid and the opening of the film, director S S Rajamouli continues to work his charm at the box office. Contrary to expectations, the release of Bajrangi Bhaijaan hasn’t ousted Rajamouli’s Baahubali from screens outside the South. Theatres continue to hold two to three shows of Baahubali, and this has helped it lap up the spillover from Bajrangi Bhaijaan shows.