‘Padmaavat’: Bhansali’s ode to Rajputs set for box office test


By Radhika Bhirani 

Mumbai– The box office journey of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s “Padmaavat” will begin on Thursday amidst much hullabaloo over a controversy that has stretched over a year and continues. Film trade analysts are bullish about the period drama, which has got mixed reviews for its story but widely hailed for its visual appeal and impactful performances.

Sanjay Leela Bhansali

Troubles for “Padmaavat” began in January 2017 when activists of Shri Rajput Karni Sena assaulted Bhansali on the sets in Jaipur, followed by vandalism on the movie’s Kolhapur set. Protests against its release continue to pose law and order issues.

According to trade analysts, on one hand the protests may be a deterrent for the audience in some sectors to watch the Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh and Shahid Kapoor-starrer epic drama in theatres. On the other, the brouhaha has piqued viewers’ interest in it.

Paid previews for the film on Wednesday evening registered promising footfalls. In Delhi-NCR, the 3D Prime category for PVR Cinemas was sold out, according to an online ticketing platform.

“The advance booking is good and strong, especially in metros. People who have seen it have said there’s nothing to hurt sentiments. So, ‘Padmaavat’ will take a bumper opening and will perform big at the box office.

“Initially, people may be a bit apprehensive, but eventually they will come out to watch it,” Girish Johar, film and trade business analyst, told IANS.

Johar said it was a failure of state governments if people felt unsafe to come to theatres.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday cleared the decks for the all-India release of the movie, saying all states must comply with its order not to stand in the way of the film, quashing last ditch efforts by the Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh governments to block its release.

It is releasing with a U/A certificate after incorporating five modifications — including title change.

The Karni Sena is adamant about not letting the movie release. It has alleged historical inaccuracies in the film and continues to stage violent protests in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. States are ensuring adequate security for cinema halls.

The makers — Bhansali Productions and Viacom18 Motion Pictures — have maintained it is a take on 16th century Sufi poet Malik Muhammad Jayasi’s epic poem “Padmavat” and glorifies the Rajput ethos of honour, bravery and sacrifice.

Key multiplex chains across the country declined repeated requests by IANS to comment on screening and expected response of “Padmaavat” — which was originally titled “Padmavati”. It will enjoy the benefit of a solo release ahead of the Republic Day weekend as the makers of “Pad Man”, Akshay Kumar’s much-awaited movie, moved its release ahead.

Trade analyst Atul Mohan conjectures “Padmaavat” may open with a collection of about Rs 35 crore on Thursday. By Saturday, it may march past the Rs 100 crore mark.

“Now that it is getting a pan-India release, it will come on 3,500 to 4,000 screens, which is great. But we have to remember the number of shows will be less because of the 2 hours 44 minutes duration of the film,” Mohan told IANS of the movie which carries Bhansali’s stamp of larger than life scale, grandeur and opulence.

Deepika looks ethereal as Rani Padmavati, Ranveer ups his own ante by portraying Alauddin Khilji — a villain that Bollywood will remember for a long time to come, and Shahid impresses with his restrained and effective performance as Maharawal Ratan Singh.

Trade expert Vinod Mirani, who feels Bhansali’s “Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela” and “Bajirao Mastani” were visually better films than “Padmaavat”, said initial curiosity will drive the audience to theatres, but the actual business potential of the movie will be judged from the first Monday after its release.

Amod Mehra, another industry expert, is also confident of a bumper opening for “Padmaavat”.

“It will be a box office winner for the first three or four days. People will watch the movie despite apprehensions (of violence) because the craze is such. But reviews for the movie are mixed. The film lacks repeat value and I felt the central character was Alauddin Khilji more than Rani Padmavati,” Mehra told IANS.

Earlier, Ajit Andhare, COO, Viacom18 Motion Pictures, had said the film will witness a mega-scale release across maximum screens, languages and formats covering 2D, 3D and IMAX 3D in India and the world.(IANS)


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