Vishwaroop, the Hindi version of actor-director Kamal Haasan's controversial film Vishwaroopam, released peacefully Friday to an average response, which was likely to pick up over the weekend.
The movie, the original Tamil and Telugu version of which is currently banned in Tamil Nadu, released without any hassles in Delhi, Punjab and Rajasthan, while in Uttar Pradesh and Mumbai, security was beefed up at cinema halls for the release over fear of protests.
Vishwaroopam is under the scanner of 24 Muslim organisations, which objected to certain scenes of the film as derogatory to their community.
However, the situation seems to have sparked increased interest in the movie in north India.
In Delhi, the response was okay, but the collections are expected to increase during the weekend, says Anant Verma, director and business head, DT Cinemas.
"Whoever has seen the movie has liked it - be it people from south India or north India. The publicity that the movie has got is working in favour of the movie. We are expecting a hike (in collections) over the weekend," Verma said.
He says no security issues have been reported at any of his halls here so far, and "everything is under control".
"The occupancy for the first show was around 55 to 60%, but that is how it is every (early) Friday. The films start picking up from Friday evening," he added.
Delhi-based distributor Joginder Mahajan admits the start for Vishwaroop is "poor", but "it is expected to grow over the weekend".
He pointed out how "since there has been so much controversy, people avoid going on the first day".
In east Punjab, the film's opening was below average, informed distributor Jaspal Dhingra of Nanaksar Enterprises.
"The response to the first show was below average. The film may be good, but collections are very average. Generally, dubbed films from south India don't do well in Punjab. There are very few people here who want to watch the movie," Dhingra said.
"As far as security is concerned, there were no issues here and I don't think there will be any problems in the future too," he said.
Written, directed and produced by Kamal Haasan, the Rs. 95 crore thriller was scheduled to release in Tamil and Telugu on Jan 25. A day earlier, the Tamil Nadu government imposed a two-week ban on the film.
In Jaipur, the film got a peaceful opening and there were are no protests, said police officials.
However, the situation was different in Mumbai and Uttar Pradesh.
Small theatres in Mumbai are said to be full, but multiplexes lack audience for Vishwaroop.
"Small theatres, which have an occupancy of 150 seats are almost full, but in big theatres, which have an occupancy of 1,000 seats have hardly any audiences," Manoj M Desai, executive director of G7 Multiplex, said.
"I feel there is so much police protection around that the audience feels 'why to take a risk'. Police security is more than the audience at many places," said Desai.
In Uttar Pradesh, the film is being screened in five multiplexes and two single-screen theatres, officials said.
There were minor protests outside the Shubham Hall in Lucknow and a multiplex in Agra.
Atul Gupta, deputy manager of PVR Cinemas in the state capital said that the first show opened at 1pm with only 70 spectators in a hall meant to seat 209 people.
Meanwhile, Kamal Haasan and his brother Chandra Haasan are trying to reach a solution to end the ban on Vishwaroopam in Tamil Nadu, which has led to their incurring losses of Rs. 30-60 crore.