Metro rode on the newfound fame of Shilpa Shetty in Britain to become the first Indian film to be premiered at London's Leicester Square where Hollywood hits like Casino Royale and Harry Potter have had their first screenings, say its happy distributors.
"Shilpa's presence in Metro has certainly helped. The profile of the film is higher than it was earlier," said Siddharth Roy Kapoor, executive vice president marketing and distribution UTV.
"Since she has won Celebrity Big Brother, Shilpa has become very popular in Britain. People are interested in knowing about her because they haven't seen her films. They wanted to see her work and we thought it would be great to premiere the film in London," Kapoor told IANS over phone from Mumbai.
Although Bollywood producers are not exactly lining up to sign her, Shilpa seems to have hit the jackpot after winning Celebrity Big Brother. And she knows how to capitalise on her success.
Metro, directed by the critically acclaimed Anurag Basu of Gangster: A Love Story fame, is Shilpa's first release after the British reality show. With the film being premiered at Leicester Square, the actress has set a tall order for her A-list contemporaries such as Rani Mukerji and Preity Zinta.
Shilpa plays a bored housewife in the film looking for some way to spice up her boring routine. The film portrays life in a big city by drawing from the stories of three couples that dwell in it. It is described as an intertwined story of the emotional journeys of the six protagonists.
The cast also includes Shiney Ahuja, Kay Kay Menon, Konkana Sen Sharma, Irrfan Khan, Kangna Ranaut and Sharman Joshi.
With its global storyline and release strategy - the film was also premièred in Sydney, Melbourne and Dubai - Metro managed full houses on the first day of its India release.
While the film will be shown in India with an interval, it will run without a break for its 2.09 hours in the rest of the world.
"In the first week, we have released approximately 190 prints. We didn't want a wider release because we are not aiming for maximum revenue in the first week. It's a small film and we want to create a market for it," said Kapoor.
In the second week, 40 more prints will be added.
"The response is quite good except in the south, which is picking up. It will do well in urban India. Metro is like a novel where every character is etched out properly and you go through the problems of each and feel closer to them," said Saurabh Varma, vice president, programming & distribution at Inox Leisure Ltd.