The buzz in the run-up week was, of course, unprecedented. Though it had nothing to do with the film itself.
The producers of My Name Is Khan — Karan Johar, Shah Rukh Khan and the Hollywood studio 20th Century Fox — couldn’t have bought or engineered this publicity blitzkrieg, even if they could afford it. The Shiv Sena needed some desperate mainstream attention. Both benefited, in their own way. It is the film’s success now that is more easily quantifiable.
The film got off to a flying start, according to box office reports.
The numbers for Indian theatres may take a day or two to tabulate. Trade analyst Komal Nahta said, “At some places the film has performed extraordinarily; at others, it may fare average.”
However, distributors Fox Star Studios claim, “In the UK, My Name… previewed Thursday with an incredible £123,000 from 89 sites. We opened fourth (in the previews market) behind Avatar, The Wolfman and Invictus. The film has broken the record for the biggest global box office preview figure for any Bollywood release.”
At the 13 theatres in Mumbai where MNIK opened, there was close to 100 per cent attendance. Trade follower Taran Adarsh said, “The response was expected. The film thrives on star power but also on content.”
Vikram Verma, communications manager at Fun Cinemas, said, “We’ve held four shows so far, with cent per cent footfall.”
The response could have been true for any Johar-Khan film. But not for one that isn’t song-and-dance — a genre the two have been associated with. The makers had themselves expressed nervousness, given the grim subject of the film.
The Sena-Khan fracas has evidently made watching the film in theatres a public statement, and not in Mumbai alone. Updates across blogs and networking sites urged netizens to go to cinemas as an act of defiance against the Sena. The controversy turned into a blessing in disguise for the filmmakers.