Salman Khan’s last two films — Dabangg (2010) and Ready (2011) — set records at the box office. And now his latest release, Bodyguard, which opened in theatres on Eid (Wednesday), has apparently broken those very records. “Every cinema has witnessed 100 per cent occupancy on the first day,” says Komal Nahta, trade analyst and editor of koimoi.com. “The combination of a Salman Khan film, his fan following, Eid and the lack of entertainment for one month has worked out well.”
The film, that has been directed by Siddique and co-produced by Salman’s brother-in-law Atul Agnihotri, reportedly had a budget of Rs 22 crore set aside only for print and publicity. The producers are currently in a big rush to recover their investments by cashing in on the Wednesday-Thursday holiday mid-week for Eid and Ganesh Chaturthi respectively. And even though there was some reported tension regarding the film’s release in multiplexes due to the ongoing profit-sharing hassle, it all seems to have worked out.
However, critics say that the film’s storyline itself is lacklustre. “The opening is phenomenal, but it has more commercial value than commendable content,” says Bharathi Pradhan, editor, The Film Street Journal. But Nahta adds, “The thought of whether the film is good or not will only sink in later. That hardly matters for the first few days. It will have recovered the entire cost by the end of the first week.” Interestingly, the extra-long weekend may turn out to be a threat to the racing start the film has received. “They got themselves a five-day weekend by releasing it on Wednesday (Eid holiday). But the first day of Ganpati might be tough, as no one will be in theatres,” explains Amod Mehra, trade pundit.
However, at the time of going to press, producers of the film, Reliance Entertainment, claimed that the film had broken Dabangg’s opening weekend collections. “Dabangg’s Friday number was Rs 14.5 crore. With Bodyguard, the current estimate for the first day is over Rs 18.5 crore across 2,600 screens in the country,” says Reliance representative Priti Shahani.