This was one horrific Friday for Bobby Deol as his spinechiller Help was stamped to death by Aamir Khan's non-commercial venture Peepli [Live] that scorched the screens with a gross of Rs.210 million (Rs.21 crore) in its initial weekend in the country.
A political satire about farmer's suicides in India by journalist-turned-director Anusha Rizvi, Peepli [Live] crushed Rajeev Virani's Help without any big names in its star cast.
Peepli [Live] had a fantastic weekend of 95 per cent. Of the 18 shows playing at Spice, all shows on Saturday and Sunday went houseful. The content has been massively appreciated, but it is basically a multiplex gentry movie. We are expecting a run of at least three weeks for the movie," Amit Awasthi, senior manager (Programming and Operations) of Spice Cinemas, told IANS.
"Help on the other hand, had an occupancy of only 35 per cent over four shows," he added.
Yogesh Raizada, corporate head (Cinemas) of Wave Cinemas, said: "Peepli [Live] had a good weekend with an average occupancy of 90 per cent over the weekend over 12 shows per property on an average. Both the content and the movie have been really liked. It will have a good second weekend run too. Help couldn't gather any help and got only 30 per cent occupancy."
Releasing over 600 screens in the domestic market and 100 abroad, except Britain, Peepli [Live] managed to rake in Rs.70 million (Rs.7 crore) gross on its opening day itself.
Made on a budget of approximately Rs.100 million (including marketing costs), the movie left the audiences bursting out in guffaws and recovered its investment even before its release through satellite and music rights for Rs.100 million and Rs.40 million respectively.
It starred lesser known tribals from Bhadwai village in Madhya Pradesh and members of late playwright Habib Tanvir's theatre troupe Naya Theatre. While the lead Natha was played by Omkar Das Manikpuri, other actors in the movie are Malaika Shenoy, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Shalini Vatsa, Farrukh Jaffer, Vishal O. Sharma, Aamir Bashir, Sitaram Panchal and Yugal Kishore. The only known actors in the black comedy have been Naseeruddin Shah and Raguveer Yadav.
Help, co-produced by Vinay Chowksey and Sanjay Ahluwalia, was totally eclipsed.
"We can't share the figures for Help, however, all we can say is that it is very less," said a source from its production unit.
Peepli [Live], co-produced and distributed worldwide by UTV Motion Pictures, has done well at small centres too.
"There has been a good response for the movie here. We are running six shows per day and we've had footfalls close to 2,000 in three days. We are expecting the movie to sustain this whole week," said an official from Cinemax in Siliguri, West Bengal.
Sakshi Mehra, owner of IP3 multiplex, Varansai and president of the Motion Pictures Association of Delhi-Uttar Pradesh said: "The response for the movie has been very good. The collections are good and the expectations are high for the second week too. Brand Aamir Khan has worked wonders."
Tauqeer Ahmad, manager of Muzaffarpur's Amar Cinema, was also pleased at the response.
"The business was OK with 75 per cent occupancy over the weekend. The movie exceeded our expectations and it will sustain for sometime now," said Ahmad.
S.M. Rane, mangaer, of Natraj Cinema Hall in Jalgaon, thought differently.
"The initial weekend for Peepli [Live] was nothing great as expected. We had an average occupancy of only 40 per cent," he said.