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Mission China: Old-fashioned projector promo helps Assamese film beat Baahubali record

Mission China, the costliest Assamese produced by Garima Saikia Garg and released on Friday, had a net collection of approximately Rs 39-lakh across 65 cinema halls.

regional movies Updated: Oct 10, 2017 14:11 IST
Rahul Karmakar
Rahul Karmakar
Hindustan Times, Guwahati
Mission China,Assam,Baahubali
Mission China is directed by Zubeen Garg.

Social media help promote films these days. But the old-fashioned projector and small town campaigning played a major role in helping an Assamese film with a touch of China beat Baahubali’s first-day collection.

Mission China, the costliest Assamese produced by Garima Saikia Garg and released on Friday, had a net collection of approximately Rs 39-lakh across 65 cinema halls, eight of them outside Assam including Delhi and Mumbai.

This hasn’t just left Raamdhenu, the last major successful Assamese film in 2011, way behind. Film trade pundits said Mission China has also beaten the first-day collection record of blockbuster Baahubali and Salman Khan’s Bajrangi Bhaijaan by a considerable margin in Assam.

“The business of Raamdhenu and Mission China cannot be compared because the former was released six years ago when there were fewer multiplexes in Assam. But in terms of footfalls, Mission China has outdone even big Bollywood productions,” Siddharth Goenka, Mission China’s distributor, told HT.

Garima hopes the film does well over the week and beyond to first recover the cost.

“An average Assamese commercial film costs Rs 50-lakh. Ours overshot the initial budget by 100% to cross the Rs 2-crore mark because we wanted it to be cinematically appealing with aerial shots, para-motoring and such,” she said.

“Our focus was providing a good entertainer, and the initial response shows people have liked the film which is a mix of romance, comedy, drama and the kind of action and locales Assamese cinema never offered before,” Garima said.

She attributed part of the success to old-fashioned promotion through projectors in rural and semi-urban areas. Films shown through projector machines on a portable screen continue to be a major attraction in rural areas, especially tea estates of Assam.

“We also went from town to town, meeting people to promote our film. Of course, we could not ignore social media,” Garima told HT.

According to Sattyakee D’Com Bhuyan, who plays a major role in the film, Mission China is not only about battling extremism and terrorism. It is also about fighting the inner demons and complexities inside.

But the main attraction of the film is Zubeen Garg, more popular as a playback singer (one of his major hits is the song Ya Ali), who plays an army officer whose motley group has a mission to rescue a kidnapped girl. He is also the film’s director.

The closest the film physically or metaphorically comes to China is an extremist hideout near the Tibetan border in Sikkim. The film was shot in exotic locales of Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Meghalaya.

“Mission China has virtually rejuvenated an industry that was gasping for breath. We hope it does wonders for regional cinema,” film distributor-producer Abdul Mannan Faruk said.

Faruk’s next film Priyar Priyo, starring Zubeen as the lead actor, is scheduled to be released in December. The film will launch Miss Universe second runners-up Aradhana Buragohain as the lead actress.

But film critic Chandan Sarma said Mission China’s success is no cause for the Assamese film industry to rejoice. “Zubeen has cashed in on his immense popularity as a singer-entertainer. It is not going to affect the business of Assamese cinema, which is no match to the sheer marketability of big-budget or slickly produced entertainers from Mumbai or Chennai,” he said.

First Published: Sep 10, 2017 16:35 IST