It seems Vidhu Vinod Chopra's comic caper Lage Raho Munnabhai, starring the hit pair of Sanjay Dutt and Arshad Warsi, may probably have to forego a multiplex release because exhibitors have refused to work out a settlement with the producer.
Chopra is said to be demanding the same terms from multiplexes that were earlier offered to Yash Chopra for Fanaa. That deal included a larger cut for the producer in profit shares.
Chopra is banking on the fact that his film is the sequel to the superhit Munnabhai M.B.B.S.
Just before the release of Fanaa this year, there was a four-day deadlock between multiplex owners and Yash Raj Films. The issue was resolved when three multiplexes bowed to pressure and agreed to the producer's profit-sharing formula.
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However, this time multiplex owners are in no mood to compromise, though none of them have come forward to comment on the issue.
Meanwhile, single-screen owners who have opened the advance booking for the film described Lage Raho Munnabhai as an average flick.
According to Ramesh Sippy, the advance booking was not extraordinary but he added that it could not be considered as the likely parameter for the opening response to the film.
"An average advance booking does not necessarily indicate that the film will open to a lukewarm response. Likewise, a great advance booking is no criteria for a film's success. Look at Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna, which got a terrific advance but later slumped at the box-office," said Sippy.
On the other hand, the distributors of Munnabhai are all charged up about the film's release after seeing it at a sleek preview organised by Chopra.
According to Ravi Macchar, who was present among the select gathering of distributors, they entered the auditorium with the intention of watching Munnabhai-2 but were in for a pleasant surprise.
"The distributors present unanimously felt that they had never seen a more entertaining film in recent times. Moreover, it is so perfectly written and directed that it is difficult to find flaws in it.
"In fact, when we finished seeing the first half we kept our fingers crossed whether the second half would confirm to expectations but it turned out to be equally good. It is a nationalistic film with a purpose, targeted at every segment of the audience," said Macchar.
Apart from distributors, Sanjay just can't get enough of Lage Raho Munnabhai, the new chapter in Munnabhai's life. He has already seen the film more than 15 times and is still asking for more trials for his near and dear ones to watch.