‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan’: Another Eid miracle awaited from Salman Khan

New Delhi, July 16 (IANS) Given the lacklustre journey of Bollywood in the first half of 2015, a remunerative miracle at the box office is much-awaited. All eyes are on superstar Salman Khan’s “Bajrangi Bhaijaan”, which delves into Indo-Pak relations, to break the dry spell, say trade analysts.

With only two films – “Tanu Weds Manu Returns” and “ABCD 2” – crossing the Rs.100 crore mark in Hindi cinema in 2015 so far, expectations are high from Kabir Khan’s directorial which is set to hit the screens on Friday.

What’s interesting is that the movie releases with a U/A certificate a day before Eid — an occasion which has always reaped gold for Salman at the box office, proven by the success of films like “Kick”, “Ek Tha Tiger”, “Bodyguard”, “Dabangg” and “Wanted”.

“Expectations from ‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan’ are really huge. We are hoping that it may cross Rs.300 crore. Pre-booking of the film has been fantastic,” Delhi-based film distributor Joginder Mahajan told IANS.

Releasing on more than 5,000 screens across 50 countries, including the US, Britain, Pakistan and Australia, “Bajrangi Bhaijaan”, which also stars Kareena Kapoor Khan and Nawazuddin Siddiqui in pivotal roles, is the story of a man discovering love during a journey from India to Pakistan as he takes a dumb and mute girl back to her country.

According to Devang Sampat, business head – Strategy, Cinepolis, the anticipation from “Bajrangi Bhaijaan” is “humongous and the opening will be as grand as it could get”.

“Right from the time when the teaser was released till the cusp of release date, the buzz has been getting stronger and stronger. The film is expected to outperform Salman’s previous releases and may make a box office record of Rs.300 crore plus numbers,” Sampat told IANS.

He added that more than 70 percent seats are booked and he is confident the opening weekend will go houseful for the movie.

“Eid and Salman have been a lethal combination,” Sampat said.

Another trade expert, Mumbai-based Rajesh Thadani, also said that “‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan’ will break Salman’s earlier records”.

Currently, S.S. Rajamouli’s southern magnum opus “Baahubali: The Beginning” is breaking Indian records. But it’s success won’t impact “Bajrangi Bhaijaan” — which co-incidentally has been written by Rajamouli’s father K. V. Vijayendra Prasad, who also penned “Baahubali” — pointed out experts.

“Overseas too, ‘Bajrangi Bhaijaan’ is releasing in a record number of screens. The ‘Baahubali’ competition is there, but Salman has a big fan following overseas,” Thadani said.

Sampat added: “Nothing can stop Salman from taking an opening and that too on Eid. Both movies can survive and perform at the box office. Salman has been a hero of the masses. It’s a given that the film will work in tier-II and tier-III towns.”

However, the only place where the film might face some trouble is the national capital where the state government has hiked the entertainment tax.

“It’s sad that Delhi government is increasing the entertainment tax from 20 percent to 40 percent. Whenever there is a hike in entertainment tax, people skip going to cinema halls. But the business of the film will be huge pan-India,” Mahajan said.

Till now, “Bajrangi Bhaijaan” is riding on word of mouth publicity, and Salman’s colleagues in filmdom — Aamir Khan and Shah Rukh Khan — did their bit by publicising the first look of the film on Twitter.

It now only remains to be seen whether the “Dabangg” Khan is able to spin his magic on the pious occasion of Eid once again!

(Sandeep Sharma can be contacted at sandeep.s@ians.in)

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