After the hype over his acting debut, Sant Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Insaan’s MSG: The Messenger has managed to rake in Rs 2-2.5 crore on the first day.
The movie was released in around 2,500 screens across the country and 300-odd screens abroad, mainly in the UK and Canada.
In India, the banner under which the film has been produced, Hakikat Entertainment, has contracted many of the theatres directly instead of going through the usual chain of distributors. Some analysts feel the film’s collections may be higher because the theatres were contracted independently.
“There are some contrasting reports. Some numbers say the film has made Rs 2-3 crore while others claim the film has made as much as Roy, which is around Rs 9 crore. However, seeing that the main audience for the movie is concentrated in Tier-II and III towns, it would be safe to assume the film has made around Rs 3 crore at maximum since ticket prices in these areas cannot be as much as those in cities like Delhi,” says a box-office analyst on the condition of anonymity.
Most analysts have preferred to stay away from reporting numbers on the movie, given that it has been mired in controversy. MSG is almost a one-man show, with the Dera Sacha Sauda leader directing (in parts), producing, acting, singing and composing music for the movie. Despite this, estimates peg the cost of the movie at Rs 50 crore, a distant revenue figure given the opening of the film.
“The film is for his followers only. It has a message for the youth against alcoholism and corruption, but as a movie it does not appeal across audiences. The followers, though, will see it and enjoy it. Some of them have made bulk bookings throughout the week amounting to Rs 3-4 crore, which will help with collections,” says Shaaminder Malik, an independent distributor and trade analyst.
He adds that one must not forget the leader claims to have around 50 million followers worldwide and hence the movie may pick up in the coming days. However, he finds the chances of it appealing to non-followers bleak.
Malik says the film’s core audience consists of people living in places where cinema halls are not abundant and hence they will have to travel to neighbouring cities. The rush is towards morning and noon shows, while the costly evening shows are less crowded.
MSG has been in the public eye before release over claims by the maker/lead actor and the controversy that saw the Censor Board get a chairperson. The film was originally supposed to release on January 16, but did not receive approval from the Censor Board. The board found some parts of the film implied the lead actor had god-like abilities and felt that MSG furthered religious propaganda.
The film was, however, cleared for release by the Film Tribunal the following week, which resulted in the resignation of the Censor Board’s Chairperson Leela Samson who alleged government interference. Other members of the board also resigned. The Censor Board is now chaired by director-producer Pahlaj Nihalani.
Analysts believe the movie’s prospects over the weekend will not improve drastically. Apart from the niche audience, the cricket World Cup that kicked off on February 14 is expected to play party spoiler for the film.
Roy, starring Ranbir Kapoor, Arjun Rampal and Jacqueline Fernandez which also released on February 13, collected around Rs 10 crore on its opening day, making it the highest opener of the year so far. It seems poised to make around Rs 25 crore in the first weekend. However, Sunday is expected to be slow for this movie as well due to the India-Pakistan World Cup tie.