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Padmaavat doesn’t need publicity anymore: Can it be the highest grossing Bollywood film ever?

Owing to historical “inaccuracies” in Padmaavat that is headlined by Deepika Padukone, Shahid Kapoor and Ranveer Singh - states like Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, and Haryana had initially called for a ban on the film.

bollywood Updated: Jan 22, 2018 14:15 IST
New Delhi
Padmaavat,Deepika Padukone,Shahid Kapoor
Deepika Padukone plays Rani Padmini in Padmaavat.

Padmaavat, which was initially titled Padmavati, is facing threats and roadblocks since the beginning. Finally, the Supreme Court paved its way for a pan India release. The film is now scheduled to hit the screens on January 25.

Owing to historical “inaccuracies” in Padmaavat that is headlined by Deepika Padukone, Shahid Kapoor and Ranveer Singh - states like Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, and Haryana had initially called for a ban on the film.

The threats of violence may have made things tough for Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmaavat, but trade pundits, exhibitors and even the audiences are excited to watch the much-awaited period drama in the theatres.

“There may be problems in certain parts of India. We have requested and advised exhibitors to approach police authorities to safeguard their property and the lives of the audience coming to the theatres. We don’t know their (protesters) line of action. So we have told the exhibitors to take note of the scenario and take decisions to screen the film in their areas accordingly,” said Nitin Dhar, former president and member of the Cinema Owners and Exhibitors Association of India.

Dhar said the association has also written a letter to the home minister and the chief ministers of a few states requesting adequate security arrangements. “We understand that it is not possible to control so many cinema halls and other properties like shops, vehicles, etc but we have faith in the law enforcement agencies,” he added.

The association, which covers states like Gujarat, Goa, Maharashtra and parts of Karnataka, has over 500 theatres under its ambit. With advance booking on the way for Padmaavat, Dhar believes the movie will do well. Looking at the advance booking, the trade circle is hopeful that a decent number of people will turn up to watch the lavishly mounted magnum opus on the celluloid.

“There is a strong buzz about the film. The response for advance booking is good. At the moment, select shows are open and going by that, the occupancy in the theatres should be over 65 per cent. The cinema houses, too, seem ready with the security plan,” Girish Wankhede, a trade analyst said.

Akshay Rathi, exhibitor and distributor, is in the middle of negotiations, locking the programming and bookings for the film. “The paid preview is happening on January 24 in IMAX 3D. The momentum built up by Tiger Zinda Hai will be carried forward by Padmaavat when it comes out on January 25. The advance booking looks good and there is a great amount of anticipation for the film. We all have faith in the law enforcement agencies and are hopeful the situation will be taken care of,” he said.

Rathi hopes the film will open to 75 per cent occupancy in over 4,000 screens across India.

Padmaavat will be shown at the popular multiplex chain, PVR cinemas, that has 612 screens across the country, but senior officials are unwilling to divulge any details. “It is too early to speak about anything at the moment (advance booking response). We don’t want to make a comment (on security at PVR),” Kamal Gianchandani, CEO, PVR Pictures said.

At single screen theatres too, the excitement is high. “People are coming with enquiries on Padmaavat. We will be showing the film in Gaiety, Galaxy, Maratha Mandir and other theatres. We are hopeful the government and policemen will ensure a safe and secure environment for the audiences,” said Manoj Desai, executive director of the theatres, said.

With the sword of protest and unrest hanging over Padmaavat, people in several pockets of India are divided over watching the film on the day of its release. Binal Shah, a schoolteacher from Surat, said, “I want to watch the film with my family. I don’t know when we can all go. Let’s see what happens on day one.”

Sharing similar views, Hiral Kotecha, a Vadodara-based housewife, wants to see the film primarily for her love for historical movies and the leading lady, Deepika. A 31-year-old housewife, Khushboo Shah, from Indore, is an ardent fan of both Ranveer and Shahid and is eager to see her two favourite actors share the screen. “I don’t know much about Queen Padmavati and her life, whatever little I know is through the media. I want to see the film with an open mind,” she said.

There are some sections of the society which are geared up to watch the movie, despite the Karni Sena’s threats, a Rajput group vehemently opposing the film’s release. “I will go to see the film. Not that I know the history or I am interested in cross checking it through the movie. But I wouldn’t want to skip a movie with my favourite actors in it just because someone is creating an environment of fear and forcing their views on everybody,” Atul Jaiswal, an HR head from Mumbai, said.

Himesh Mankad, a CS student and a movie buff, will go to watch Padmaavat on the first day to catch the historical drama film. “I am hopeful that the law enforcement agencies would provide appropriate security. I have been waiting for Padmaavat ever since the trailer was out. I am happy that the long wait will come to an end this week. In my opinion, one should watch the film and then, pass any judgement. Violent protests are no means of showing your displeasure towards a film,” Mankad said.

The film, initially titled Padmavati, was slated to release on December 1 last year but was postponed as the makers were yet to get a certificate from the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC).

The budget of Padmaavat is approximately Rs 180 crore and the makers have planned to release it in more than 4000 screens in India. That may result in good box office numbers, especially when PadMan is now not releasing alongside it.

The film doesn’t need anymore publicity and everything depends on the environment around it. If the protesting groups decide to not resort to violent protests and vandalism then Padmaavat might turn out to be the biggest money-spinner of recent times in Bollywood.

First Published: Jan 22, 2018 13:58 IST